California Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the North Yuba River in California

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

April 26, 2020

fly fishing the North Fork Yuba River in California

The North Yuba River is the perfect location for novice anglers eager to hone their fly fishing skills. While the trout are fairly easy to catch on the North Yuba River, wading will provide enough of a challenge that we guarantee even experienced anglers won’t get bored with this fishery.

The fun doesn’t have to end when you put your rod away for the day. After wading, you can enjoy a relaxing and refreshing swim in the very water that you just successfully plumbed for trout.

Check out our guide so you can be well-equipped to take on the North Yuba River, regardless of your skill level.

About North Yuba River

Fly Fishing in the North Yuba River

The North Yuba River is a 61 mile long tributary of the Yuba River in northern California. The River rises on the Sierra Crest near Sierraville and then flows west through meadows. From there, the River flows south through a gorge, then turns west, before abruptly turning south into the New Bullards Bar Reservoir. After the River leaves the dam, it joins the Middle Yuba River and forms the Yuba River.

The North Yuba River has multiple tributaries, many of which offer excellent fly fishing opportunities. Lincoln Creek is a spring creek with plenty of rainbow and brown trout. Salmon Creek also has a respectable rainbow population, while Haypress Creek, along with its tributary Milton Creek, has brooks and rainbows as well. Other juicy North Yuba tributaries include Pauley Creek and Lavezzola Creek, both of which contain rainbows and browns.

In addition to the River’s thriving brown and rainbow trout populations, the North Yuba fork also contains a large number of aquatic insect hatches. As the River can provide difficult wading conditions, you will want to make sure you are in good shape before tackling these waters. 

North Yuba River Map and Fishing Access Sites

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

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

Best Places to Fish the North Yuba River

Most of the North Yuba River is paralleled by Highway 49. The best place to fish is the section between Downieville and Sierra City. Access to the River is very good, and there are hundreds of pull offs you could use to park and walk down to the North Yuba.

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish the North Yuba River. The USGS stream gauge near Goodyears Bar, 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: 753 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 4.11 ft
Streamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Time to Fish the North Yuba River

The fishing season for the North Yuba River is from the last Saturday of April to November 15. Off-season, fishing is permitted between Sierra City and Bullard Bar Reservoir, although it is catch and release only, and you must use barbless hooks. 

Spring is the best time to visit the North Yuba River, due to the aquatic insect hatches. You will see  Golden Stoneflies in May, along with various species of Caddisflies, including Spotted Sedges. Little Yellow Stoneflies hatch in June and July, while Blue Winged Olives hatch in the fall.

Fishing in the summer can be slow, but fall is an excellent time to visit, as the brown trout migrate out of Bullard Bar Reservoir to the river to spawn during this season.

Fly Box – What You’ll Need

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

  • Elk Hair Caddis (#12-14)
  • Blue-wing Olive (#16-20)
  • Pale Morning Dun (#16-18)
  • October Caddis (#6-10)
  • Pheasant Tail Nymph (#14-16)
  • Bird’s Nest Nymph (#12-14)
  • Golden Stonefly (#6-10)
  • Streamers (various) (#4-12)

Gear Recommendations

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

The North Yuba River Fishing Report

Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide the North 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 nearest airport to the North Yuba River would be Redding Municipal Airport, which is about 42 miles away from your destination. You can also travel to Sacramento International Airport, which would mean an hour and a half of scenic driving, in order to reach your destination. 

Rocky Rest Campground is located near the North Yuba River and is a popular choice for anglers. You’ll have to make time to visit the scenic bridge across Yuba River and the campground’s swimming hole.

The North Yuba River is the gift that keeps on giving. Whether you are an angler who has seen it all or the new fisherman on the block, we promise you will be able to find satisfaction at the North Yuba River.

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

Feature image by Mountain Valley Living