It’s the busy season. Trips are rolling and I’m back to snorkeling and fishing in between. The Yak in the summer is a happening place. Its busy riverside. Not so much anglers but all the other river users are out. Rafters, tubers, kayakers, paddle boarders, all hanging out riverside.
The fishing is good. Pretty normal for summer. The fishing in the Yak in the summer is a whole different ball game. The river is 3 times its normal size. She is running at 3200 cfs. Below average for this time of year but not by much. With the dams running conservatively during the drought year we have a little less than we typically do. Later this summer is when potential warm water and low flows will be an issue. But right now the water is cold, fast, and fish are happy and healthy.
Experiencing the Yakima in the summer can be overwhelming. It’s big and can be hard to read. There is a lot of water and the fish spread out all over in the upper river. We dry fly fish almost exclusively in the summer. Nymphing and streamer fishing are in select areas. The rest of the time we are targeting trout in areas where they will opportunistically eat on food that passes by. This can be terrestrial insects, stoneflies, caddis, and spent mayflies. What it boils down to a lot of the time is slinging a single dry into tight short drifts 3-6 times to get a fish to rise. Its quick, dirty, and really fun. Anglers have to be on their game, accurate, and able to play fish smart in heavy flows where the trout has all the advantage.
I’m all about the dry fly fishing. If that makes be begoiuse or slightly elitist so be it. I’m under the impression that most anglers like dry fly eats and I have put a lot of time into figuring out how to make the upper Yakima river a dry fly fishery. Around 80% of the fish caught on my trips throughout the season end up being dry fly eats.
It’s all about perfect presentation. Multiple times, to entice these persnickety trout. So we slow the boat down in these heavy flows, work the right kinda dry fly water, and produce fish on top. It can be work, but it pays off damn near every time. And it’s not like we dont switch to other stuff when dries dont produce. But I always read the water for dry fly lines and presentations first.
These fish get shoved into some gnarly water at this flow. They adapt very quickly and efficiently to their environment and for 3-4 months of the year for generations of trout, these fish have adapted to the summer time conditions. It makes for an amazing summer time experience that is unlike any other time of the year here. Plus, to this day, I have not found a harder fighting fish in this current. These trout have some shoulders hen the flows are up. It’s a constant work out which is why these fish are so spicey.
We throw big bugs with heavy tippet, fight fish fast and smart, and get back to it after fast releases. Typically fish are landed and caught in under 2 minutes, and when you get chances at 20-40 a day it can get silly.
The upper is graduate school for anglers and guides. To produce fish you’ve gotta take your time and slowdown. Run and gun doesn’t work up here. Well it does, for that typical 8-10 fish day. Accurate casts, good row lines, lots of back strokes to keep that speed off, and giving anglers ample opportunity to present the fly to these tricky troots.
I love the summer fishing because once the boat hits the river it’s on. It doesnt stop, the flows are moving, and it’s time to get after it. It’s high energy, lots of action hopefully, and a whole lotta fun. I invite everyone to come out and see how you stack up against the Yakina Trout in the summer. It’s a good game to play and I love coaching anglers through it.
See ya riverside.