North Fork Yuba River Rainbow Trout
Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing North Fork Yuba River
The North Fork Yuba River headwaters begin from the
confluence of two small creeks just below Yuba Pass.
These are small brook trout streams that flow for about
five miles to Bassets. There are also some small rainbow
trout in the creeks. The lower sections have some brown
trout. Fly fishing North Fork Yuba River in his area is
strictly small stream fishing.

Salmon Creek is the first major tributary. It flows into the
North Fork of the Yuba River just below Bassets. This
creek contains lots of small rainbows and adds a lot of
water to the small Yuba River at this point. Below
Bassets, the stream consist of pocket water with typical
runs, riffles and pools. The trout probably only average
about 9 inches but some are larger.

There's a four-mile section of wild trout designated water
between Sierra City and Ladies Canyon. It requires
barbless hooks. The rainbows in this section are larger,
averaging about 12 inches or better. There are some
brown trout which can be rather large. This section of
the stream is heavy flowing pocket water with large, deep
pools. Fly fishing the North Fork of the Yuba River gets
better in this section of the river.

Below Ladies canyon, downstream to Downieville, the
river receives much more pressure from anglers. This is
probably because it's so easy to access. Below
Downieville, the North Fork of the Yuba is a good size
stream. The river declination is less and the flows
become more moderate. This also widens the stream
out. Pocket water is replaced by longer runs, riffles and
pools. Much of this river can be accessed from pull-offs
along the road. The Yuba River Trail also follows it from
Goodyears Bar for almost six miles downstream. It can
also be accessed from Rocky Rest Campground.

Below the Highway #49 Bridge, the North Fork of the
Yuba River flows through a narrow gorge and into
Bullards Bar Reservoir. From the reservoir, it passes
through a tunnel into Englebright Lake.

We cannot cover the North Fork of the Yuba River
without covering its many tributaries. Some of these
deserve their own section of our stream guide.

The uppermost one, Lincoln Creek, is a little Spring
Creek in the headwaters that has a population of small
rainbows and brown trout. It's a pocket water stream by
the time it enters the Yuba River.  

The first large tributary, Salmon Creek, is the outflow
from the Lakes Basin Area - Long Lake, Deer Lake,
Gold Lake and other small lakes. It's a small, pocket
water stream with plenty of small rainbows.  

Haypress Creek is the next one downstream. It has some
small brook trout in its headwaters and some nice size
rainbows in its lower section. It has a tributary stream -
Milton Creek, that contains small rainbows. It can be
accessed from the Pacific Crest Trail.

Pauley Creek is a small Spring Creek. It contains some
rainbows up to 12 inches. It has a tributary that makes it
much larger in its lower section - Butcher Ranch Creek. It
contains mostly brook trout.

Lavezzola Creek is another small Spring Creek with wild
rainbows up to 12 inches. It merges with the Downie
River just before their confluence with the Yuba River.
Downie River is yet another Spring Creek with small
rainbows and brown trout under 12 inches.

Winter off-season fishing between Sierra City and
Bullard Bar Reservoir is allowed under special rules.
Barbless hooks and all "catch and release" is required. It
starts when the state season ends on November 15 and
ends the last Saturday of April when the regular state
season begins.

The North Fork of the Yuba River has a large number of
aquatic insect hatches. Golden Stoneflies hatch in May,
June and most of July. Little Yellow Stoneflies hatch in
June and July. Various species of caddisflies, most of
which are Spotted Sedges, hatch all summer from about
May through September. Blue-winged Olives hatch
during the Fall. There are many other hatches.

The season is from the last Saturday in April through
November 15. There's a special winter season for some
Mid May is Spring Runoff time and other than that, the
fishing is great during the Spring.
Summertime can slow the  fishing down a little in some
places but it's still good most of the time.
Fall is a good time for fly fishing North Fork Yuba River.
Brown trout migrate out of Bullard Bar Reservoir up into
the river to spawn in the Fall.

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and Flies
Type of Stream
Spring Creek/Tailwater

Rainbow Trout
Brown Trout
(Wild and Stocked)

Small to Medium

Northern California

Nearest Towns

Last Sat. of April through Nov. 15


Non-Resident License
State of California

National Weather Service Link

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Photo Courtesy of Stephen Lamb
North Fork Yuba River
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

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