The time is upon us. We have had over a week of over 85 degrees and this week it’s gonna be in the 90’s. This means that fish are gonna eat in the AM and in the PM and hunker down during the heat of the day. It’s also when the river is filled with tubers and rafters in the afternoon…a good time to do the same because fishing is typically slow with all that sunshine, heat, and butts floating over troots heads.
It’s the time of the year where we float wicked early. Like 5 am. And get off river before the heat. Then come back and fish the evening. Water temps have been good in the mainstem river and with the heavy flows for summer irrigation water temps should be good this summer. I’ve fished early AM in the upper and it’s been slow to start but with the week of warmer temps the water temps have settled in the high 50’s low 60’s which means it gets rowdy out there. Throwing big bugs with 3X tippet and fighting fish hard in the heavy current. It’s fast, it’s silly, and it’s wicked awesome and fun. Beat the sun to the river, catch a few big fish before 10 am. Or come for an evening and fish until dark and get big slurps from big durps of trout that are gorging themselves.
With the heat comes hoppers, Yellow Sallies, big terrestrials like ants and beetles, and streamer fishing can be really fun. The nymphing in the morning can be stellar on smaller sparkly stuff both really deep and super shallow, and the good ‘ol dry dropper rig becomes a great producer.
When it comes to a double fly rig in the summer…I’ve got two methods I use more than any other. A shorter dry dropper with a big dry like a purple chubby, and a smaller size 14-16 lightning bug or something similar, about 16-24 inches below. Not 4 feet, the longer the tippet between the dry and the nymph…the more lag time between eat and set. And when the water is at 3800 cfs…you want zero lag in your sets because you’ll just miss fish. Tighten up that dropper rig, and cast for shorter more accurate drifts and you’ll have more success. Remember to use a nice heavy nymph, with a bead head of tungsten or similar to help drop the dropper fast in the heavier current.
The other double fly rig I use a lot of in the summer is the double dry. It’s by far my favorite of course…because it’s two dries! A larger attractor pattern like a purple chub or a madam x hair wing, with a smaller caddis or mayfly pattern 16-24 inches out the back. This is a great technique when fish are tight to the bank and you can’t land a nymph tight. Throw two dries, grab the fishes attention with the big fly, and then watch them take the smaller dry. It’s an easier meal, and if you cast and present right the smaller fly is within a few inches of the bank while the larger fly is 12 to 16 inches away from the bank. The fish sees the larger fly, decides to eat, then sees the smaller fly when they peel off the bank, and typically give a quick grab on the little fly since it’s closer and easier to eat. Boom…fish on.
These methods work great early am and late pm in the summer. Fishing in the middle of the day will get too hot for lots of action. However there is this sweet window when fish cram big stuff before it’s so hot the just go down for the day. Hopper Time. This is when the heat has warmed the day up to 80 plus…right now it’s by like 10 am. Which is great because it’s the last 1-2 hours of your float if you started at 5 am. The heat gets the grasshoppers active and awake. They start flying around, feeding, doing all that hopper stuff that they do. Then you get a nice breeze…which is like every day on the Yak, or they venture to close to the overhanging grass and fall into the river, or they just hop a little too far from the bank…and they become fish food. Hoppers are a big crunchy, leggy, meal, that’s juicy when you bite into it…like a trout Twinkie wrapped in bacon. There are trout that risk their lives…literally…to get a few of these tasty treats before they get spotted by birds…or anglers.
The takes on hoppers are typically aggressive, and explosive. Remember it’s a big big so it’s gotta be killed and chewed on…so fish typically Hoover them hard. It’s awesome and in the heavy flows of summer it’s wicked fast. The last hour or your early morning day or the first hour or two of your afternoon evening float is hopper time. Just chuck them into the fishy looking stuff, if you’re not getting love try a smaller size and change up the colors. I like pink and yellow bodied ones but they get picky and like all sorts of colors. Red’s, purple, tan, orange, yellow, chartreuse, magenta, I mean get rowdy with the colors. Shit can get silly.
When it’s slow…try a streamer…strip it, bobber dog it, swing it…get meat in front of their faces with a sink tip that’s short but fast sinking. Like a 7ft 5ips, and go to town on a few big trout. Especially effective after you’ve caught a few on dries in the evening but can’t see anymore because it’s 9:15 and my crazy ass is still out there. Strip streamers to the take out and thank me later. Fish hunt at night…especially big ones…and right after all the other fish are done eating smaller bugs…a few of those beastly trout come out to eat the smaller fish that came out for caddis…appease them with baitfish patterns that are dark. It’s fun and a good way to end the day.
So there ya go…summer time in a nutshell. I’m back on the homewater Thursday through the weekend and into next week. I’ve got openings too. The summer time is wicked fun and fast fishing here on the Yakima…I highly recommend it. Book a trip and see for yourself.