October 13, 2009

Yuba Duba Doooo

Made a trip up to the Yuba this last Friday after work for about 4 hours of evening swinging with the spey rod. Although I normally fish the Yuba with my 5 wt single-hander, I've been fishing it recently with my 7 wt spey rod to help get the gear out to the fish, especially in those spots with all the willows at your back. It's been working great, and swinging soft hackles has been very, VERY, productive. I think the Yuba trout don't like to move a whole lot, and without a drift boat it's hard to get a nymph rig right in front of the faces of those fish holed-up in the middle of the river. With the spey rod I can get a huge swing which basically covers every inch of water from bank to bank. So far this has proven to be really effective. The 7 wt rod works great, but if I had a 6 wt spey I think I'd prefer using that instead: I think the 7 wt is a little too much gun for those resident rainbows... although one of the trout I pricked this last Friday put a steelhead-sized bend in it... Since it's all I've got, I'm going with the 7 wt.

I started out downstream from the Hwy 20 bridge about a half mile, right in the thick of the willows.

-- Anyone who's ever waded the Yuba below the bridge knows the stretch I'm talking about: there's great, wide-open, fishing right below the bridge for about a quarter mile, then there's about a quarter mile section packed with willows lining both banks, and after that, wide-open fishing again. I see most people passing this stretch of willows probably for the simple fact that it's more of a pain in the ass to cast there than it's worth in terms of numbers of fish. I like the challenge, so I've always run through that section with my single-hander trying to get the flies out to some of those larger fish in the middle of the river. Even though you can wade out about 10 feet, without some really "creative" casting, nobody's gonna get their flies out to those fish... but I always try (not too successfully) for some reason. That's where the spey rod comes in handy.--

I was using a two fly rig, but rather than using two different flies I tied-on two of the same basic brown and tan soft hackles that I tie just for the Yuba. These flies always work great in the hard-flowing flats and tail-outs of the big runs on the Yuba. By using one bead head and one weightless soft hackle, I can swing the flies in (what I'm guessing is) a non-linear pattern, which seems to produce more hook-ups. I think I often get a short take on the lead fly (the bead head) and an, immediately following, hook-up on the tailing (weightless) fly, although I've hooked several fish on the lead fly too. I've actually had a double hook-up with this setup, which didn't last very long thanks to those meaty Yuba trout.

Swinging was a little slow on Friday evening with only a few short takes and one fish that promptly broke me off. I stuck to it for about an hour or so until the fish started to rise all around me. I was starting to see some caddis bouncing off the water and it was pretty clear that the fish were eating them from their slashing exploding takes. I swear, as the fish came busting out of the water I could hear tiny laughter... That was when I really wished I had brought another rod with me to throw dries...

Finally I just gave up and started high-sticking with the spey rod near these rising fish. I'm sure that was pretty interesting to watch. Eventually I gave that up too.

As a last resort, I decided to try the impossible, and took off the intermediate skagit cheater and sink tip and put on a 10 ft floating cheater. To that I attached a 9 ft 3x tapered leader, and on the end of that went the ol' E/C caddis. I gooped the fly up really well for fear that it would spent most of its time underwater if I didn't... It was a little harder to get a good cast with this setup. Turning the fly over was a little bit harder, but once I did... WHAM!... a nice 18+ inch resident rainbow.

Next cast... another 18 or so inch fish... And the next cast... you can guess. I pulled 6 fish in without moving my feet, with one fish probably being well over 20 inches. That fish broke me off, but not until after bending that 7 wt spey rod and spooling 50 yards of line. Another fish unseen.

The Yuba is hot right now, and with this rain the steelhead should be pushing up into the system some time by the end of the week or early next week. Get it if you can!

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