I have been fishing for a while. Seen some springs here on the river. The spring ushers in the new year for most of us outdoorsy folk but especially the river peeps.
The new year is celebrated by most in January but for me its when the winter seems to finally break. Which is about now…early to mid February. The days start to get longer, the intensity of the sun starts to return, you can feel everything waking up around you if you let it.
I come out of hibernation. Faster this season compared to others. The spring fishing isn’t my favorite by all means but its like everything else in the spring…a slow rolling start to the season. I have learned to enjoy it for what it is. Warm up.
Spring fishing is a lot of nymphing. Now many know I think nymphing sucks. Ya I said it. As a former gear guy, nymphing is just to similiar to gear for me to fully enjoy personally anymore. Also nymphing negates a lot of the craft of fly casting and fly presentation. That being said…it rails troots people. Just rails them. I spent a handful of years nymphing like crazy…it works and makes putting numbers in the net a little easier.
These days in the spring we nymph 20-40% of the day. It works, and I like to use it during specfic sections and times of the day. The early AM as the fish move into feeding lanes. The 40 minutes prior to hatches, and in those key deep water runs in the cold water temps where fish are still stacked.
We have stonefly migrations, mayfly and caddis moving around, there is no shortage of crunchy munchies down there for trout to snack on subsurface. So yes I chuck an indicator rig. There is something to be said about a 2 foot indicator drop and a spicy AF troot on the receiving end of a size 6 pats stone. Eat it trout.
This season I am incorporating more soft hackle fishing. Getting specific rigs and lines for fishing it with clients. New things to do! But streamer fishing has become a huge part of my spring days. Teaching anglers to chuck and swing big rigs with sink tips has been a challenge. The past 2 seasons I have played around with my technique and tested it enough to know it works. Now its just improving and fine tuning. Part of guiding is working through that process with lots of different anglers. The past seasons I had lots of oportunity. We spend more time swinging over nymphing these days. It doesn’t produce as many fish…but the encounters are something to behold, and when we do land a meat eater…its always an amazing trout. And yes….always big…some really big…hence the 6 weight.
Finally there is the dry fly fishing. As we get into April we do it the majority of the day. But the spring can be finicky with dries. The fish take 10-15 minutes to respond to a hatch…and sometimes thats all it is in the spring. We rarely get good skwalla days…I will be honest. Every few seasons it gets silly. But not usually. Its a small bug game. Like this past autumn.
BWOs are the bug. 2 pm everyday once we start to see 50 degree air temp days and the water is up around 42 plus. The soft water, eddies, ends of seams, tailouts of riffles….mmmm slurpers. On the Yakima…after 15 years….these are the hardest fish to catch. If you’ve gone with me before…you know what dry fly fishing can be like on this river…fucken amazeballs…but it takes work. You have to put the time in and present the fly well every time, multiple times…hasn’t changed…probably never will.
Dry fly fishing can be tough here. But the spring will give you some of the biggest and baddest eats on a dry. The fish are bigger in the Spring. They are pre spawn and they get really fat. The water is also cold and these fish love that shit. Still to this day…our largest and most beautiful trout come to the net in the spring. Quality over quantity. The trout are all colored up for the spawn, and a lot of them move up towards the headwaters. Mmmmm.
The spring also affords anglers the highest chance at a large trophy westslope cutthroat trout. They congregate in the upper before spreading out for the summer. The opportunity to meet a large male cutthroat is what I am all about. They are the rarest fish in this river. Few and far between. When you find a 17 plus inch buck cutty its a special thing and a true gem and trophy of the Yakima River.
So the spring is almost here. The river is on a hard drop, should be floating it tomorrow and the next day before heading west for another shot at steel.
I invite you out to the Yakima this spring. Book a trip, or explore it on your own and hit me up for info. I have a Spring Clinic up on March 14th that is open as well. We have decent snow pack, the spring weather forecast looks good, and shit is about to get started! The stoke is high. Get after it anglers.
See ya riverside anglers.