Last night was cold. No frost but the rain and wind made it cold. This morning was cold too. I woke with the sun and could still see my breath. Outside the tent there was mist hanging over all. I could not see the river. After deciding it was too cold I retreated back to my tent and slept in.
The late season chill is here. Where the water temps are warmer than the air temps in the morning, and the fish start to slow down how they eat, but not how much they eat.
Mayflies are hatching. And fish love mayflies on the upper Yakima. The trout will hold in riffles for hours sipping and slurping small bugs. Sometimes you barely see the rise. Sometimes it’s a little fish…other times it’s a large fish.
I love little dry fly fishing. When trout only show their noses and rise with precision and purpose. An angler must be attentive and watch the take carefully. With such a small hook and such a methodical eat, setting too early will give the angler nothing but a spooked fish, and too late and the fish has usually spit the fly out realizing its trickery. I have spent years training my eyes too see size 16 and 18 dry flies at great distances specifically to become better at mayfly dry fly fishing. It has paid off over the years. Just this evening I sat and watched the riffle tailouts for eats. Saw the slightest dimples and small turns of fish to the surface for size 20 and 18 BWO left over from this afternoons late hatch. When I hooked my first I giggled. After the next 12 I had satiated my appetite for fish on little dries. Nothing massive, but lots of good fish on little dries.
I came back to camp to set up in the light for once and to tie flies. More smaller mayflies and emergers to be exact. I become infatuated with landing large fish on small flies. It is incredibly frustrating and can be painstakingly difficult but with practice can yield some life fucking up trout.
I landed my first over 20 inch rainbow on a size 18 handtied emerge BWO pattern. I use the pattern to this day. I barely saw the take save for 2 nostrils, a dimple in the river, and my fly disappear. My heart fluttered when I set the hook, and my chest began pounding when the small dainty rise was the largest trout I had ever encountered at the time. The choas, adrenaline shots, hooting, countering, and jumping that ensued lasted a few minutes. To my astonishment I landed this massive trout. My fly barely imbeded in between the nostrils just under the lip of the wild rainbows mouth. She measured at 22, a large hen. Before digital cameras and mobile phones were everywhere, I released her, the encounter seared into my mind.
I named my boat after that fish. The Subtle Take. Like I said, life fucking up kinda trout. The kind that make you chase them for a living. To this day, small mayfly fishing is one of my absolute favorite ways to trick trout.
I am here for 10 more days. In the thick of the late season hatches, I’ll enjoy every day before heading south.