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Learning New Old Water

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The shop I work for has an access key to a private ranch on the Lower Yuba. From time to time, I will take a customer fishing there as a thank you for patronizing the shop. I normally frequent the "downstream" side of the property. This last time, I took Miss C. to the upstream side.

Saturday evening, Miss C. wanted to continue working on line control. She made some good looking drifts that presented her fly textbook style. Her mechanics were dead on. Unfortunately, the fish weren't grabby.

The reason I call this area new old water is that the river dynamics have changed over the past three years. The Lower Yuba has had two high water years followed by a low water year. This year is actually a normal year. A lot of slots have filled in with gravel. Some new slots have formed. Also the Army Corp of Engineers cut in a bay to make a safe portage area to keep people from going over a diversion dam.

Today, I went back to the property to study and fish the runs. Rather than indo/nymph fish, I decided to Skagit style nymph fish with my switch rod. The flows in the slots were faster than I thought. I had to change the tip to a type 6 which barely touched the bottom.

Once I changed the tip, I started getting grabs. I dredged a size 4 stonefly nymph because it is pretty hard for tiny trout to get stuck on it. Also I was targeting larger trout.

When I got to the back end of the pool, I finally converted. By the hard hit, I knew I had a big fish. Immediately the line went tight. The fish wanted to fight me off the reel. The fish went upstream. It went downstream. It lept. The fish was huge.

After ten minutes (it seemed longer), I brought the fish in. I put it up against my switch rod, and measured it from the butt to a decorative ring. The fish was 23.5". For 2009, that's the biggest wild Rainbow Trout that I have caught. Or maybe it was an early Steelhead. Hmmm...

Next week, I'm going to work my way further upstream.