Fishtober…a term coined by my good friend and boat maker John St. John at Hog Island. Fishtober is that sweet time of the season that comes as things simmer down, the colors change, burn bans are lifted, big orange bugs start hatching, and trout start packing on the food for the winter.
Like most critters as the winter approaches, trout start feeding aggressively and gorging on food so they are nice and fat for the cold winter months ahead. This time of year on the Yakima River coincides with our October Caddis Hatch and our annual fall spawning salmon. Fish start hangrily eating food as they prep for the low water temps that will turn them into troutcicles and slow their metabolism down to zilch. They don’t eat much when they are damn near frozen, but like a bear that needs to prep for hibernation, so too do the trout.
Fishtober is that time of year when trout are just eating. Constantly. Sometimes snacking all day on stuff other times gorging when the hatches are peaking, but no matter where you fish here on the yak in the late season, there are trout eating.
It’s starting to get cold. Sometimes 30 plus degree temperature changes during the day. Water temps start to drop overnight and trout take their time waking up. Things slow down, the river drops in flow and the trout become more aware of their surroundings. The leaves are changing, the vine maple a scorching red and orange along the river banks. The cotton woods turning yellow, and soon when I look to the highlands, I will see the tamaracks change to gold. Frost will begin to greet me every morning, and mist is already hanging over the river every morning. Water temps are warmer than air temps before 10 am in the upper. The river is quieter, until you hear a kingfisher chatter as it zips by, or your concentration is broken by the sound of a large gulp that could only be a big trout rising just yonder.
The light fades fast now, but the fishing can be intense in the evenings as the cold sets in but the trout still have things to eat before everything cools for the night. I find myself taking my time in the mornings, starting floats and fishing later, and staying riverside after all the other anglers and boats are back at home in time for a little Netflix and chill. I’d rather chill with the fish and set up camp in the dark…the fish make it worth the inconvenience.
I can hear elk bugle at night, and listen to them walk by my tent every morning now. I even met a big bull riverside the other morning, we both wanted the same hole. Me for the fish, him for the drink and scenery I suppose. I let him enjoy it while I fished downriver until he decided he had watched me sling enough casts.
Fishtober is in the air anglers. In all my years fishing the Yakima, the last 4-6 weeks of the season have always been my favorite. I plan on fishing and or guiding every day until the end of October this year.
Hope to see ya out here this fishtober…get here before its over.