Its looming. Which makes it out to be a negative thing but it is far from it. The Peak of the season that is. It typically hits sometime in mid June to mid July. When I hit about 70-85 trips. It’s that point where you’re in the grind. When a lot of guides will take a break and I want the work piled on heavy.
The past 4 seasons I’ve had the pleasure of guiding the Yakima exclusively. And when the peak hits is also when the summer fishing is at its finest. Golden stones, yellow sallies, pmds, caddis, terrestrial, streamers, nymphing…if you’re into it, but the Yakima in the summer is some wicked awesome dry fly fishing in the upper.
Unlike my new water on the St. Joe which is a freestone and gets smaller throughout the summer. The Yakima gets big, even on a drought year like this year, the Yakima River will be 3-4 times her normal size. Swollen with irrigstion water growing all manner of things in the valleys below. I am still in awe of the power the small Yakima river has when it wears its tailwater outfit for the summer.
It makes for a unique fishery. Tough but unique and rewarding to the patient and determine angler. The water in the summer is high, typically 3-4000 cfs. I like it when it settles around 3200-3600 cfs in the upper. The fish get forced into the banks of the river. They search out food, cover, and oxygen, in the 6-12 feet of river along each bank. Under overhangs, in cutbanks, around and amongst boulders, eddies, and as tight as possible to the edge of the river a lot of time.
The angler needs a boat to fish it properly. Set up around 20-25 feet off the bank. Shooting at 90 and 45 degrees towards the bank picking apart the micro currents and structure with a dry or dry dropper set up. The upper river in the summer, will produce 30-60 fish 8hr plus days. Mostly dries. It’s about the only time of year it happens for me. We get close in the fall but we rarely break 30, but the fish are larger in the fall. Less of them but larger.
The trout in the summer are all sizes. We get the big ones, but they are at select times of day unless you get that one eager, slightly dumb, big boy to eat randomly. But the majority of the trout caught are your juvenile trout. The cookie cutters as we like to call them. The 8-14 inchers. They ain’t big, but they are wicked fun when they eat dries. Some get really colorful and bright in the summer. When you fight them in heavy flows, with 3-4X tippet, on lighter action or softer action dry fly rods it makes for a lot of fun without overly stressing the fish.
The big fish, they usually eat for about 15-30 minutes early in the morning typically just before and through dawn, and again at the end of the day for 15-30 minutes as dusk settles in. Caddis…or stones typically. As the summer gets into August the fishing is best early am and things tend to get a little too hot, water temp wise in the afternoon. Plus the biggest trout in the river eat summer stones from 4-6:30am in August. They get on a nocturnal feeding cycle with the summer stone hatch happening in the evening early morning. So if you hit the river early you get those big trout filling thier bellies before going down for the day.
The Peak of the season is where I love being as a guide. When you’re just grinding. Wake up, coffee, clients, boat launch, shuttle, teach, guide, lunch, teach guide, land fish, boat on trailer, drop off clients, eat, sleep, repeat…for as many days as the river will give me. I’ll take ’em all. I’ll run two trips a day when I can. And now with two rivers its twice as much fun.
That Peak is something I crave, working 10-15-25 days in a row. Sharing it with all those clients, the adrenaline high constant, no down time, just guiding…mmmm…that shit is my jam and when I feel most groovy. Just in tune, synced up, and dialing anglers in two at a time for days.
That’s what’s coming my way…being on a 10 day rest and visit before getting into it is much needed and appreciated. My focus tends to get lost in the river when things ramp up.
I’ll be back at it soon. Can’t fing wait.
See ya riverside,