Upper Yuba River Drainage

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Upper Yuba River Drainage

Suggested Flies for the Upper Yuba River area:
Sierra Tahoe Hatch Selection

Bass Flies:
Clouser Swimming Nymph #6-10
Burk's Aggravator #6-10

Stillwater Flies:
Woolly Bugger #4-10
Crystal Buggers #4-10
Clouser Minnow #4-10
Marabou Muddler #4-10

Gold Ribbed Hares Ear
Birds Nest
A.P. Nymph #10-16
Caddis Emerger
Burk's HBI #14-16
Pheasant Tail Nymph #14-16
Little Yellow Stone Nymph

Callibaetis Cripple
Parachute Adams
Buzz Hackle #10-16
Elk Hair Caddis #12-16
Yellow Humpy #14-16
Comparadun #18-22
Golden Stimulator # 6-10

Directions:There are basically two ways to access this area. One is by way of Henness Pass Road from Hwy 89 north of Lake Tahoe. This will take you to Jackson Meadows Reservoir from where a dirt road (Graniteville Road) will drop you into Bowman Lake. The other way is by Highway 20 which connects to Bowman Road. This will take you past Fuller Lake and others on the way up to Bowman. The road turns to dirt after Clear Creek and becomes increasingly rough.

The upper Yuba drainage consists of the headwaters of both the Middle Fork and South Fork of the Yuba River. Most of the water from these river systems is diverted to nearby reservoirs and lakes. Their flow picks up further downstream from springs and other tributaries. The upper Yuba drainage is also home to many fine lakes with access by 4 wd vehicle and trail systems.

The MF Yuba has difficult access using Henness Pass Road to reach the first impoundment dam at Jackson Meadows Reservoir. Below Jackson Meadow is another impoundment dam, Milton Reservoir. Between Jackson Meadows and Milton reservoirs, the MF Yuba is artificial only with single barbless hooks and zero take. Below Milton, the MF Yuba is rugged canyon water with rainbows 10-14 inches. Box canyons start at an area known as The Gates of the Antipodes and the MF Yuba plunges into steep descents with plunge pools and cascades. Large Browns are known to inhabit the deeper pools.

Milton Reservoir: This is a 15-acre, shallow lake located about 1.5 miles below Jackson Meadows Reservoir at an elevation of 5650'. It is part of the Wild Trout Program of DFG and is home to trophy-size trout. The lake requires barbless lures or flies and a 2 fish limit with a maximum size of 12". By adjusting the regulations so that the larger Browns remain within Milton Lake, the trout have been able to outcompete the Bullheads which were feeding upon the smaller trout and keeping the trout populations low during the 1980's. Season is the last Saturday of April to November 15. It can reached by traveling about 17 miles on Henness Pass Road from Hwy 89, north of Lake Tahoe. The lake was drained in 1993 and the bottom was excavated with a 8 to 10 foot deep trench with lateral trenches in a "herringbone" pattern. The trout move into the shallower areas to feed in the early and late parts of the day and retreat to the main trench midday. Numerous substrate improvements were made to provide habitat for native crawdads. Most of the trout are in the 10 to 14 inch range but there are numerous large trout as well. The lake was restocked with two different strains of browns which have reached 18" to 22" inches by 1998. Large rainbows also inhabit these waters. These trout use the Middle Fork of the Yuba between Jackson Meadows and Milton to spawn. Usually sometime in June is the best time to start fishing here as the water is near 40 degrees due to the snowmelt prior to June. July is an excellent time to fish as well as late September through October. The lake is best fished from float tubes as large weed beds hug the shores. The inlet holds many fish gathering to migrate upriver, Rainbows in the late Spring and Browns in the Fall. The south shore is forested up to the shoreline and the north shore is rocky.
There are numerous hatches of midges, caddis, and callibaetis. Chironomid patterns can be used throughout the season. The size decreases from a #12 in the Spring to a #20 by late Summer. The Chironomid patterns that are most effective are in the gray, olive, rust, orange, and black colorations. The Callibaetis hatch starts in June and begins around mid-morning. Use emerging duns, then spinners. A Gray Drake hatch (Adams #10) also occurs in June. Effective patterns are PTN (#12 to 14), Callibaetis emerger, Crippled Mayfly, Adams, and midges(#18 to 22) along the edges of the weed beds. During midday or when no hatch is present, try Brown or Olive Woolly Buggers(#8-10). As on any Sierran Lake, Flying Ant patterns can also be very effective in sizes 12-14. Due to the high Crayfish population along the rock edges on the North Shore, use an Orange-Brown Woolly Bugger.
Suggested tackle for many of the trout is a 3-5 weight rod with a WF Floating Line, a Sink-Tip Line, and a Full Sinking Line. Leaders should be 9 foot with a 5x to 7x tippet. However, you may want to move up to a 7 wt, fast-sinking line with a 3x tippet when targeting the large Browns that reside deep within the channels. These big boys are best fished just an hour before dark.

Jackson Meadows Reservoir: This is a large reservoir with paved road access. The result is 140 campsites and mobs of people. Best fishing occurs in early summer where Pass Creek enters the lake near the Pacific Crest Trail. Submerged weed beds there produce decent hatches. Another good area is where the Middle Fork of the Yuba enters the lake.

Middle Yuba below Milton Lake: The Middle Yuba is drained at Milton Reservoir by an aquaduct moving the water to Bowman Lake and Spaudling Reservoir. It regains water from springs and streams and the fishing picks up below the Box Canyons at East Fork Creek. There are large browns that inhabit this stretch of the Yuba in the 18" size range. Most fishing this area will work downstream with a stay over at East Fork Creek and a climb out at Graniteville or Plumbago further downstream. Downstream near Graniteville, there are mostly rainbows in the 9-12 inch class. Mayflies and Caddis hatches are common during the season. BWO's will show up in the Fall.

Bowman Reservoir: This is a large reservoir with Browns in the 12-16 inch range. Lake levels fall creating islands on the south shore. This area offers decent flyfishing opportunities using Mosquitos (#12) or Ants (#16). Stump areas work well with sinking lines and buggers.

Weaver and McMurray Lake: Weaver and McMurray Lakes have Browns and Rainbows in the 10-16 inch class. Weaver is larger and deeper, with more trout than McMurray. Weaver will also contain Brookies, Lake Trout, and some monster Browns that were transferred here from Milton Lake. Best action is early morning when the water is cool, using Olive or Brown Woolly Buggers (#8-10). Fall is the best time of year here as this lake can get real spotty in the action.

Faucherie Lake: This lake holds rainbows, browns, and brookies in the 12-15 inch range. Two inlets from French Lake and Five Lakes Basin are your best spots from the banks. Windy conditions may hold down the bite but fishing the outlet into Canyon Creek will result in 8 to 12" browns.

Carr Lake and Feely Lake: Carr and Feely are heavily used for camping. Fishing is rather so-so. Carr has Brookies and Rainbows. Feely also has these trout but retains a rather large population of Bullhead Catfish which prevent the trout from flourishing. The Bullheads were supposedly planted by Chinese laborers while building the railroad in the 1800's, for a food source.

Penner Lake: Penner Lake contains Rainbows from 10-18" and some excellent Brookies. Best fishing access is from the east side. Try weighted nymphs.

Culbertson Lake and Lindsey Lakes: These lakes hold excellent populations of Rainbows and Brookies. At Lower Lindsey the best fishing is at the inlet side using dries in the evening and Black Ants(#12) during the day. Upper Lindsey can be even better than Lower Lindsey, try fishing the north end. Culbertson is deeper and is best fished with sinking lines using weighted streamers along the eastern side.

Rucker Lake: 89 acre Rucker Lake (ele 5,462 feet) consists of largemouth bass, brown bullhead and bluegill. It is about 5 miles up the Bowman Road just past Fuller Lake. There are two turn-offs to the lake by dirt roads. The first turn-off takes you to the southern side of the lake, the other to the northern shoreline. A jeep trail proceeds from the northern dirt road up to Blue Lake. In 1985, it was stocked with over 2,000 Goose Lake Redband Trout. Currently, the Redband population is doing well. The best fishing is from the north shore, particularly at low light. The lake is relatively shallow with weedy shorelines, best fished from either float tubes or canoes. The bass will hit on standard yellow or white poppers as well as most stillwater flies such as Olive Matukas, Olive Woolly Buggers and Blue or Green Clouser Minnows.

Blue Lake: Blue Lake has Rainbows and Brown Bullheads but most of the fish remain deep and are hard to reach from the bank. Best action is from the North shore. You have to either hike to the lake from the parking lot at Rucker or drive a rough 4-wheel drive road to the lake. The lake is at 5,964 feet elevation.

Fuller Lake: This lake is heavily stocked with rainbows and browns.The lake receives about 2,000 lbs. of browns and 4,500 lbs. of rainbows each season. Most fish around the dam due to access but the better flyfishing can be had along the eastern shore where the larger Browns cruise. Generally the depth is 4-8 feet, so use a Type III sinking line and an unweighted Olive or Brown Bugger pattern. Most fish are in the 10-12 inch range. Starting in May, a callibaetis hatch comes off in the evening and continues through August. Damsel Nymphs get active in June with the hatches occuring during the afternoons in July and August.

Canyon Creek: A plunge pool stream out of French Lake for 1.5 miles. The creek enters Faucherie lake and outfalls with long pools to Sawmill Lake. From Sawmill, it continues onto Bowman through a canyon with small pools and runs. The creek contains both Rainbows and Browns in the 8-12 inch class. A trailhead from Bowman Road will get you to the upper areas of the creek.

Fordyce Creek: An 8 mile tailwater stretch of water from Fordyce Lake to Spaulding Lake. Fordyce Creek contains many pools, runs, and pocket water. It has Rainbows in the 8-14 inch class as well as some browns. Best access is by way of the trail from Eagle Lakes.


© 2018 Steve Schalla
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