Let’s talk about this wonderful time of the season I like to refer to as Transition Time…or Pre Summer Funky Time. The Yakima River is a tailwater, meaning its flow is dam controlled. Unique with the Yakima is that during the summer months when most rivers around the west reach their lowest levels, heat up, get put under hoot owl restrictions, or just closed altogether; the Yakima…she is high and fast all summer. And right now she is big and dirty because its hot as hell out there for early May and the snow is melting rapidly.
The Yakima runs unnaturally high in in the summer months. The river would normally only run in the 3-5 thousand CFS range during the spring runoff before settling down and staying around 2 thousand CFS or less. Just a much larger version of the Teanaway really…much larger. The fishing becomes unnatural as well. We get big flows that force fish into the bank in the lower stretches and this requires them to eat terrestrials and caddis all day long. Think of it as if you were stuck on a treadmill all day for 3-4 months that was on the highest setting on the steepest incline. That’s kinda what summer flows are like for trout. They have grown accustomed to the way the water is managed, trout are incredibly adaptable. And they do thrive here, our population numbers are right where they are supposed to be. I also think it is why are trout are so cranky. They get big burly and they don’t mess around. When you take the water away they tend to settle back down in the late season.
This tailwater effect gives this river system a very interesting ecosystem that breeds a very enjoyable trout for fly fishing. Otherwise I wouldn’t still be here. This system gives anglers and guides an amazing summer season, 3 straight months of fishing basically. The river may be high but the fish still gotta eat. Summer time flows for irrigation throughout the Yakima Valley Agricultural System, give us that treadmill that forces fish to burn calories constantly and eat basically all the time. Fishing becomes good, then consistent, then consistently good. This spring has been a bit of a bust, we’ve had some good days, but its been mostly pretty meh, much like last spring. We get a good spring every few seasons. We get good summers damn near every year. With the currents snow pack and the temperature trend, which cools back down next week, we should have a nice warm summer, but with plenty of water for the river. Big and high, with hangry trout.
While the river is blown, I am getting ready to move my family back off grid this summer. I am getting ready to head south as well. I also have a fly tying material order that should finally arrive tomorrow so I can get to work on summer time bugs as the guiding is about to pick up. Once the river simmers its shit down. We have carpenter ants, hoppers, beetles, salmon flies, golden stoneflies, yellow sallies, PMD’s, Drakes, Summer Stones, Caddis holy crap so much caddis, plus streamers, and the nymphs to go along with all of the above. Summer time is wicked fun time on the Yakima and its damn near here. After the kind lack luster spring the summer is going to be busy. Sunshine, big water, big troots, big bugs, and good times.
We have about a week or so of this Pre Summer Funky Time right now, river looks to be out of shape until at least the 15th. Which sucks, but is nothing new if you’ve spent enough spring watching flow charts and snow melt. June is starting to fill up with reservations, and July is usually one of my busiest months once we get through the 4th. We are still on standby for May but as we get through the next week or so the river should get to a fishable level. But I am ready for barefoot days in the boat, chucking big dries to slurpy durpy trout, early morning floats before the heat sets in, late evening river rambles fishing into the night and taking out in headlamps and trailer lights…ya…camping riverside on my days off, snorkeling the mountain rivers and streams. Its almost here.. 100 plus days of sunshine and outdoor awesomeness…who’s ready?