Denis Peirce: Heavy rains filling up area lakes, rivers |

Denis Peirce: Heavy rains filling up area lakes, rivers

The heavy rains of last week increased the rate that our lakes are rising and the rivers are flowing. The Lower Yuba River was raised from 1,130 to 1,530 cubic feet per second in the past couple days. 

Prior to the increase, the Yuba was fishing well during the daily Pale Morning Dun (PMD) hatch. I spoke with Frank Rinella from the Nevada City Angler.  He reported that the PMDs are coming off daily from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. 

What is unusual is that on cloudy days there are few if any Blue Wing Olives (BWO). Typically the BWOs hatch on cool cloudy days and the PMDs are out on the fair weather days. One day last week there was a PMD hatch during a drizzle and the trout were rising to them. The best dry fly for this hatch is the “Pinky.” Frank also recommended a soft hackle PMD pattern fished on the swing just below the surface. Look for the trout feeding on PMDs in the slick water at the lower ends of the pools.

The March Browns have been making their appearance rather sporadically during January and February. Now that March is upon us look for them to begin to hatch in significant numbers. Rinella has been sampling the water and he has seen good numbers of the March Brown nymphs in the gravel. 

If you are interested in the Lower Yuba, this evening’s Gold Country Fly Fishers meeting will feature Bill Mitchell, a biologist with the firm Jones and Stokes. 

Mitchell has been conducting a study of the Lower Yuba fishery for the last decade. He will be presenting a program on his conclusions regarding the rainbow/steelhead populations in the river. He studies fish scale samples as part of his research and can tell a lot about a fish, such as age and whether it has been to the saltwater or not. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. with the program starting at 8 p.m. All interested persons are welcome to attend. The location is the Senior Center Building at the fairgrounds on McCourtney Road.

Lake Oroville is now rising at a rate of 1.5 feet per day. Last weekend pro angler R.J. Bennett (NU graduate) fished a two-day tournament on the lake. Saturday started with light rain that cleared off mid-day. The rising barometer made for a tougher bite. The water temps started at 49 on Saturday morning and rose to 51 degrees by Sunday afternoon. 

Bennett noted that in his numerous tournaments on the lake he has always done well fishing the main body of the lake. This was the first time that this location let him down. The best fishing was back the river arms. The winning angler caught many of his fish on the West Fork arm. The winning 10-fish weight was 27.5 pounds. The largest fish for the event was 5.25 pounds with some 4-pounders also weighed in.

The spotted bass in Oroville are currently in a pre-spawn mode. Bennett found fish from the bank down to 20 feet. The best fish were caught between 2 and 10 down. Early in the morning there was a bit of a reaction bite that faded out. The most productive bait for Mitchell was dart headed 5-inch to 6-inch worms in crawdad colors. He said he caught as many coho salmon as bass during his time on the water.

We should be on the verge of good bass fishing on Oroville. The best conditions are a rising water level with temps climbing through the 50 degree range into the 60s.

Scotts Flat was planted with trout last week. Scott Bartosh fished it Sunday. For a half-day effort, only two trout were landed. One was a recent plant and the other appeared to be a holdover.  Both rainbows were caught trolling near the launch ramp. He had no action up at the inlet.  

Bartosh noted that on most lakes, when trolling near the top of the water column, he does better if a breeze ripples the surface. It has been his experience that this is not the case on Scott’s Flat. He does better when the lake surface is calm. This pattern held true on Sunday.

Denis Peirce writes a weekly fishing column for The Union and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. Contact him via e-mail at

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