California Fly Fishing 4 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Lower Yuba River in California

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

March 26, 2020

Lower Yuba River in northern California

The rainbow trout in Lower Yuba River are known for their fighting spirit and cunning, so you will need to be on your toes to outwit the feisty denizens of Lower Yuba’s waters.

If the promise of rainbow trout isn’t enough of a draw for you, the River also boasts an excellent population of steelhead, shad, and salmon, along with a rich aquatic insect population. 

With over eight miles of water teeming with fish, this River is ripe for eager anglers.

If you take the time to properly prepare yourself, you’ll have much better luck catching your prey as you enjoy and explore your scenic surroundings.

About Lower Yuba River

Fly Fishing in the Lower Yuba River

The Lower Yuba River is an eight mile tributary of Feather River. The Lower Yuba River refers to the waters between the Englebright Dam to the Daguerre diversion dam. It is known for its long runs, wide riffles, deep pools, and, of course, its spirited rainbow trout.

The area that the Lower Yuba River flows through was originally densely populated by Native American tribes. White settlers eventually ravaged the area, with disease wiping out most of the Native Americans. The area also attracted many prospectors during the Gold Rush era. Throughout the 20th century, the River was dammed at different sections. The Englebright Dam, which was built in 1941, is where the Lower Yuba River begins.

The River attracts fascinating wildlife in addition to the salmon, steelhead, shad, and rainbow trout populations. Here at the Lower Yuba River, you’ll see mule deer, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, and even black bears.

Fishing the Lower Yuba River can be tricky. Because this is a tailwater stream, the water level can be unpredictable and rise quickly. Be sure to check out the current water levels before setting out on your trip. The River’s layout also makes it difficult to sneak up on any trout concealed in its waters. It is, therefore, very important to match the hatch closely, so you have the best chances of tempting the fish. Luckily, this River has an excellent aquatic insect population.

Lower Yuba River Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing access spots on the lower Yuba River in California

Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Places to Fish Lower Yuba River

To access the Lower Yuba River, take Highway 20 Bridge, or Park’s Bar Bridge, which is about 18.5 miles east of Marysville, California. You can park at Sycamore Ranch Resort or Hammon Grove Day Use Park for free. You can also turn right off of Highway 20 and take Hallwood Boulevard to reach access points.

Most fishing on the Lower Yuba River takes place on drift boats, but you can also have success fishing from the bank. Wading is possible in some areas but can be dangerous if you are not paying attention. Be sure to exercise caution if wading and check the flow conditions before attempting it.

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish Lower Yuba River. The USGS stream gauge near Marysville, CA provides a good indication of current conditions.

The graph below shows the stream flow (discharge) for the past 7-days. If flows are considerably above or below historical norms (yellow triangles on the chart) then fishing conditions ma not be ideal.


  • Streamflow: 2650 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 63.14 ft
Streamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Time to Fish Lower Yuba River

The Lower Yuba River offers year round fishing. The best fishing takes place in the spring, but summer can also be a good time to visit, due to the cold water releases that keep the temperature in check. Steelhead arrive in the River in November, with winter being the best time for steelhead and rainbow trout fishing.

It’s very important to match the hatches of this fishery. In January and February, the most prominent hatches are Skwala stoneflies and Blue Winged Olives.

Starting in March and April, you will see March Browns followed by Caddis from May through September. In June and July, Little Yellow Stones and Golden Stones are prevalent.

In the spring and early summer, you’ll also have success using Pale Morning Duns, Spotted Sedges, Green Sedges, and Short Horned Sedges.

Try using terrestrial imitations in the summer, such as ants, beetles, and grasshoppers.

Fly Box – What You’ll Need

Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Lower Yuba River:

  • Blue Winged Olive (#16-22)
  • Skwala Stonefly (#8-10)
  • Caddis (various) (#12-18)
  • Little Yellow Stonefly (#14-16)
  • March Brown (#12-16)
  • Golden Stonefly (#6-10)
  • Pale Morning Dun (#16-18)
  • Gray Drake (#10-12)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 5-wt or 6-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs for trout on the Lower Yuba River. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

For a two-handed rod, you can’t go wrong with a four- to six-weight switch rod. Come winter time, a Skagit line with a MOW tip is a common setup on two-handed rods. During the summer Scandi lines with a heavy poly leader are useful for getting the fly down.

Lower Yuba River Fishing Report

Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide Lower Yuba River fly fishing report are listed below:

Fishing Regulations

The state of California requires that all people who are 16 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available. You can purchase a one-year, 10-day, two-day, or one-day license. Some areas also require a permit. You can purchase the license and learn about the most current regulations through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Trip Planning Tips

The closest airport to the Lower Yuba River is the Sacramento International Airport, located about 40 miles away from Yuba City. You can travel to any major or municipal airport in Northern California and arrive at your destination after a few hours of scenic driving.

If you are looking for warm, clean lodgings in the area, look no further than the Lexington Inn and Suites. They offer affordable rooms, with a fitness area, restaurant, and seasonal outdoor pool.

Sycamore Ranch, however, is the favorite choice among anglers. The Ranch is a family-friendly and well-maintained campground with a breathtaking atmosphere that is guaranteed to help you unwind.

Next time you are planning a fishing adventure, consider the Lower Yuba River. We promise you won’t regret it.

Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing California