Monday, September 8, 2014


Now that I have kids – it is difficult to get away and fly fish the way I use to.  But I recently got a “2 day pass”.

With the California drought – fall fishing is difficult. But I thought of a place where I would have a decent chance.

Yuba River below Jackson
I decided to try the Middle Fork of the Yuba River – below Jackson Meadow Reservoir.

I was in luck. I got a good weekend. It was post-Labor Day, so fishing pressure was light. In fact, I never saw anybody in this hole. 

 Water was still flowing out of Jackson – and it was ice cold. The air temperature was in the high 70's to low 80's.

The "pool"
I decided to fish a pool – almost like a small pond. It is one of my favorite spots – but it is a little hard to get to. The short hike in is not easy, due to rocks, fallen trees and thick brush.

The water enters over a small "fall" over some boulders. Then opens into a pool framed by cliffs on either side. The water was clear and moving very slowly.

The pool is awesome.  I arrived one afternoon at about 4:30 and saw several fish rising. I could not see what they were hitting, but I thought I saw a stone fly in the air, so I tried that.

Stone fly I caught
The hatch only lasted a few minutes. Then the pool fell silent and I didn’t see any other activity the rest of the evening. As I packed up – I actually saw a stone fly in the air – and caught it.

I went back home. Since water levels in other near-by rivers and creeks were drastically low – and since I had seen active trout – I decided to return the next day.

This time I arrived by 3pm. I knew stones would hatch around 4pm. I was determined to get those rising fish to hit. And I was going to be ready.  I rigged up – and then waited.

Sure enough – 3:50pm, the first fish broke the water. Soon, another - and another. I grabbed my rod and waded every so stealthfully into the pond. But on the way – I saw a bug on the surface of the water, and snatched it up.

As you can see – it’s not a stone – it’s a mayfly!

Mayfly "Exhibit A"
I quickly re-rigged. I eventually saw three types of mayflies. One was green (probably a drake or BWO), another was grey – and one was light yellow to orange (probably a PMD).
Mayfly "Exhibit B"

I matched each version in terms of color and size. The trout rose and fed for about an hour. Not interested in the least in my offerings. Not a single hit.

I thought my presentation was awesome. Almost every cast was on target and zero splash. I had fresh, nine foot, 7X, 2lb test tippet. The fly line didn’t seem to spook ‘em. Heck they rose and fed and splashed right next to it.

I added droppers - nymphs, emergers etc. But I could not get a single hit. Not one. Two nights in a row. Nothing.

My stone fly selection w/ dropper
So, I ask – what did I do wrong? Look at the flies I saw on the river and in the air.  Look at the flies I tried. You’ll have to trust me concerning the presentation etc.

What more cold I have done? I am stumped.

Patterns I attempted
Here is a sample of the patterns I tried.  There are different versions of mayflies, caddis, pupas, even zebra midges.  Some of the nymph patterns are about 22. Most of the dries are about 14 - 16, some smaller.

Any thoughts?