It has been a rough spring and if you are a trout angler its not great right now. There are only a few rivers that are not completely toasted and blown out, but our beloved Yakima is on the drop.
We have lost a lot of our snowpack, more than anywhere else in the state. But the Yakima River is a tailwater system, and that means the flows are regulated and controlled for irrigation and salmon in the summer. We had plenty of snow this year to get us through the hot summer months…we have just had to wait until things have settled down enough that the powers that be can ramp down the flows to more fishable levels. It is coming…probably next weekend…sooner if the fly fishing gods deem us worthy.
The summer on the Yakima is always good. I have some of my best dry fly fishing this time of year. Basically we only fish dries from now until October in my boat but that is because these fish know this is a tailwater and they act accordingly. These fish have the flows jacked up to over twice the normal flow for this river. Its why our trout get such big shoulders, fight so hard, and have to basically eat all day long. These trout are stuck on a treadmill that is at full incline and the speed setting cranked to 11. They are constantly burning energy, and the water temp this season should sit right in the sweet spot all summer long. That means trout metabolism will be at the optimal range due to the water temps sticking the low and mid 50’s. Add the caddis, salmon flies, goldens, green drakes, terrestrials, and morning mayflies and you get a river that just doesn’t quit.
The high flows also push the trout around the system in an unnatural manner. Because there is so much volume the water forces the fish into the banks of the river. This makes the 1000 trout per mile in this river a little easier to target. The closer to the bank the bigger the fish. They tuck up tight into the small stuff, little shady spots, structure, overhangs, high grassy banks, they are all tucked up in there. They are forced there, but its also where the food happens to be. Terrestrials insects like ants, beetles, and grasshoppers fall in and make easy opportunistic food. We also have caddis that do most of their business along the bank and it will be the main food source for fish throughout the summer. The stoneflies will start to show up and fish will smack them, typically late in teh afternoon when they return to oviposit. Mayflies in the midafternoon, drakes and browns mostly, target riffle feeders. We also have the early morning stuff start to pick up as the air temps rise. Stoneflies in the AM, and the PMD hatch in the upper can be pretty amazing when things get rolling. The summer time is one of the best times to come out and enjoy the unique tailwater fishery we have here on the Yakima.
The summer calendar is already starting to fill up. Since there hasn’t been much fishing I expect that the guide trips will be plentiful and I have already had lots of calls on when things are gonna get back into shape. We will be rolling by June, if not hopefully, by Memorial Day Weekend. These fish have had one hell of a break and it’s time to remind them that there are anglers out here! Give me a call, send me an email, holler at me riverside cuz I will be out there starting this coming week! It’s time to go fishing! After this long spring I am just as anxious to get after it as every other angler! It is finally here!!!