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Old Friends

I’ve fished for just over a week on the Yakima every day. Floated a few, guided a day, and have been walk and wading most days. I find walk and wading to be a much faster way of getting the body back into guide form. Rowing is great but at these flows it’s hardly work. But wading, up and down, crossing, standing in freezing water, slinging a six weight, crawling up and down snow banks and logs, post hole-ing and cursing the gods, that shit trims the winter weight right down, kinda loosens up the body and I get to walk the river a few miles a day.

I’ve missed the Yakima. That is the other reason I love wading. There is nothing quite as intimate as wading and reading a river. I can feel the currents, I can see the lanes and seams up close, I can gauge distance and change my approach and drift angles to my liking. There is something about the pull of current on me that focuses me, the feel of it against my body, like a lover who tells you her secrets with a caress. I know that sounds weird, but I’ve spent years learning, feeling, understanding, and unlocking the Yakima Rivers’ secrets. I have been fortunate to have been able to spend so much of my life involved with this river. Getting back into the river life and being riverside on the Yakima just seems like old friends getting back together.

The river in the spring is cold, hard, and slow. It takes a patient angler, a methodical and somewhat mad individual. The eyelets freeze, the line stings the hand, the reel siezes… I might just need new shit. Your toes lose feeling, as do your fingertips, nose, and ear balls. It can snow or rain on you, bring you wind that sucks the life out of you, or just freeze your appendages off until you’re limping back to the rig and blasting the heater to 11. That was last week. The past few days have been pretty decent. For the slow and patient angler.

All that misery is made up for when the fish do come to the fly on a cold early spring day. They are typically big, and beautiful, and colored and spotted up in pre spawn colors. Keep in mind for me these first few fish have been the first fish since October that I have had the pleasure of meeting.

When that fish does hit though…the adrenaline just shoots through my body. Especially after so long without such a shot it really makes the heart flutter when that strike registers. The streamer takes the past few days have been so aggressive it’s like getting a double shot and I end up shaking with excitement. So after months of not feeling that…the Yakima has given me plenty of shots of the much missed fish induced adrenaline shots that I have come so accustomed to.

I’ve been swinging a 9ft 6wt broom stick of a St. Criox with a overweighted shooting head line for heavy streamers from air flo or some shit. I’ve got a 10ft versileader in 5ips with about 2ft of 10lbs mono for tippet. I’ve been throwing sculpin style patterns, today was a sparkly conehead thing in a size 6. That’s my streamer get up. Nothing fancy, and I like a heavy stick I can put some force into and cast accurately as opposed to the trout spey rig. I also snap t and do other fancy casta with my rig too but I like to be able to pick up 30-40 feet of line and shoot it in one to two false casts with a haul or two and place the fly dead accurately and have control over the drift with the mend. Plus I fish from the boat where a two hander just doesnt make sense. And the 6wt is very nice to fight big fish on. I feel like I can play the fish better with a stronger rod as the majority of the fish hooked are large. Like really large the past two days.

My nymph set up is steiaght forward too. 9ft 5wt, standard WF line to match, and a 9ft 4x leader. I use a thingamabobber or yarn indicator, and I typically throw two flies and split shot. I change depths a lot and fish lanes multiple times. I get bored with it personally after a while. That being said, the takes can be extremely ferocious and violent and fish right now are perking up and hitting the turbo jets and looking for fast water when they get hooked. Every fight I’ve had nymphing has been intense. Purple Batman Prince is a great fly by the way.

The streamer fishing though. Oh…my…fuck…has it been good in the upper the past two days. I’ve fished for about 2-4 hrs every day day the past 4 and yesterday and today the streamer wants got really aggressive. Like really aggresive.

I’ve been swinging and breaking the runs down by targeting the slow edges of the fast heavy current of the run. Whether its outside or inside. Casting 90 to 45 degrees across and down stream, mending and letting the current do the work. Then stripping in line varying my retrieve and picking it up and doing it again. Every 3-8 swings I take 2-8 steps down depending on the read of the water.

The fish earlier last week were lightly lipping the fly at the tail end of the swing. The past two days they have been crushing it on the cross swing before it even starts to tail out. They seem to be picking up a few feet off, then waiting and swiping it from the side hard, because I’ve had great hooksets in the side of the mouth and just amazingly aggressive takes. They are literally hoovering and crushing the fly. Today I did pick up a fish at 20 inches, on the swing, and it weighed something like 4-5lbs. Fat, healthy, and turbo charged.

Today was also the first day I saw adult Skwallas on the bank doing the nasty. They are starting to wake up. There was also some sporadic BWO and March Brown adults floating around. No fish up but a few more days and I’ll be slinging dries again. Looks like we are gonna have some water dump in from snow melt, which is greatly needed. The water is low and a little charge would really get things moving.

I’ve also been camping up the Teanaway away from the noise. Its been great and still getting down to the 20s at night.

The fishing is really going to start picking up here over the next week and bugs are gonna start hatching and fish gonna be eating and slurping. I’ve got days available for spring special floats and I’m only here until April 21st before I head back home for a bit and get ready for guiding in Idaho. But dont worry I’ll be back in May for F3T in Ellensburg, bass fishing during runoff, and getting ready for the summer on the yak. Come take a trip this spring and I’ll introduce you to some Yakima troots.

Tamarack

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