The fishing on the Yakima is pretty good right now. Since the flows have come up and the weather has warmed it finally feels like summer time fishing is in full swing. The upper river from South to Bristol is wicked high right now and the take out at State is pretty gnarly. The upper upper river near Easton, bullfrog, ensign, and three bridges is low, a little warmer, and has some big ol troots hanging around. I’ve been walking wading a lot in between trips and after trips up here. I even fished the bottom end of the LC last night and it got a little silly from 7:30pm to when we couldn’t really see anymore. Big eats on dries all around early am and late evening in the LC. The upper river has been really productive with nymphs in the morning but after 11:30-1pm depending on how cold it got the night before…I’ve been chucking hoppers, ants, and terrestrial style patterns tight to overhangs, the bank, on the seams, over boulder gardens, cutties love to smack things.
With the season finally picking up a lot of my inquiries lately have been for multiple boat floats. Like 3 and 5 boats. So I’ve been passing on a lot of them and referring them to outfitters that can handle that many boats. I ‘m just one guide, I’ll bring on another guide for a double but 3 boats is kinda my limit…that’s a lot of pressure and it’s harder to guide the way I do in a large group. As I’ve gotten older I have become less inclined to guide large groups. It’s not really my thang, and in the summer there’s a really awesome window for big fish early in the morning and late in the evening…big groups don’t typically float at 4 am as the light wakes the river up…or until 9:45 pm when you literally can’t see anymore.
In the summer I’m the kinda guide who likes to guide during those times. Two anglers and a guide…breaking down the water, targeting slurpy risers and prime dry fly lines. Because it’s the summer time on the Yakima…the flows are jacked, the water temp is in the mid and upper 50’s…fish are hungry and will eat. And big fish are smart about when they eat…fish smarter…not harder. Big trout on the Yakima wake up wicked early and eat the last nights stoneflies and caddis as they wake up with the warmth of the sun and oviposit . Just hang out riverside as the sun rises…you’ll see it. It takes a little longer to happen in the upper because it still gets down into the 40’s at night. But that is happening less and less each day into August.
They also are more inclined to eat as that surface water temp, or top third of the water column starts it’s upward warming trend. Fishing this window where the water temp is rising slowly in the morning…the Trout’s metabolism follows and they get this need to eat. Those survival instincts kick in and they gorge before the sunlight gets to intense that they are exposed to predators. The bugs also react to the warming temperatures and this gives the trout ample food sources in the morning. As the air temps rise the stoneflies and caddis that hatched the previous night will return to the river after the evenings mating, to oviposit eggs…que slurpy durpy trout. They need good presentations and you can’t flog the water…they are still big and smart…so they still need accuracy and good drifts. Typically they are don’t by 8-9 am and go down for the day…they return in the evening.
The evening summer time fishing is just like the mornings….only in reverse. And yes…trout can see in the dark…and they don’t like things to slap the river…no matter how dark it is…if they were brown trout I’d be saying something different but these Yakima Trout are super wary…and things that slap are typically attached to anglers that pull and fight back. In my experience…the trout here like it basically perfect when it comes to dry flies. As the light fades and shadows are cast it makes fish more inclined to eat…they are less exposed to predators and again, the air temperature and water temperature settle in to sweet spot for about 2 hrs every night before it gets to dark for anglers to effectively fish…they still eat…and big trout can be very nocturnal…especially for baitfish…but easy to slurp big bugs or caddis on the surface when you have less risk of getting eaten isn’t a bad option for a trout. Just wait until summer stones…I’ve camped on this river and chucked big dries in the absolute dark, blindly casting…and I’ve hooked fish…they can see it…you just can’t. That water temp settles back into the prime spot of mid to upper 50’s air temps drop to where caddis and evening duns hatch, and boom…you’ve got that window again. I typically fish dries until I can’t see anymore. Then anchor, grab the streamer rods…and strip them off the bank for the last half mile or so…cuz it’s fun, you can’t see, and you might meet a really big ass trout.
If you find yourself on the river when the sun is high and it’s wicked hot…it’s hopper time. I’ve had some really nice takes on terrestrials and hoppers during the heat of the day. It’s good for a few fish typically, and nymphing flashy stuff works too. I also will swing and strip streamers during the heat and sun. Water temps are still sub 65 but I’m playing fish hard and fast on big tippet. Trying to keep them healthy for the next anglers and for the rest of the summer. Using proper gear and tackle in the heavier flows is also just the respectful thing to do for the fish…17 plus inch trout need a big stick to be properly fought and landed with minimal impact to the fish. Plus a bigger stick gives the angler the advantage in the heavy flows where the trout will school you if you have an underweighted gear.
The summer has lots of dates open for fishing. I’ve got some of the best prices on the river for guide services. No shop, no employees, no lights to keep on, just my boat and I…rambling down the Yakima River chasin trout, tricking fish, and showing clients and anglers a good time. Come book a trip this summer with me and get in on some summer time fly fishing on the Yakima!