Its been one of those mornings where I puttered around debating if I should go fish. Supposed to be windy later, but its really nice right now. I have things I should probably do but also just have that, don’t wanna do anything, sense about me.
I wake up at 7 every morning. I beat my alarm by a few minutes. The kind of…you’re awake so get the hell up, wake up. Body is out of hibernation…some days the brain has to play catch up. I also fished a bunch of days lately, caught some really nice fish, have a busy calendar filling up, dealt with some personal life stuff, and you come down pretty hard after rolling and rambling for a handful of days in a row. My body is also tired from rowing a lot. I have been putting it through a bit more stress to get ready. I am a week from my first guide trip of the season.
Right when the fish have started to look up. A dry fly eat, in my professional and personal opinion…is the fucken best. All the ways we target trout with flies can produce a big fish. Trophy troots come on nymphs, steamers, and dries. Every angler settles on what they really enjoy doing the most. For me its dry fly fishing. That spills over into my professional fishing but it seems to work in my favor.
Dry fly fishing is hard. I have been nymphing lately and its really easy once its learned. Its searching out trout at various depths and speeds until you find a feeding zone. Once its found you can generally find fish throughout the day in similar areas of the river. You can get more into it when hatches start and target specific zones where invertebrates will be prior to the hatch and key in on more specific feeding. Nymphing has a simple floppy cast, an indicator to help detect the strike, and you are fishing for trout where they eat the majority of their diet…underwater.
But its not as much fun as dries. Dry fly fishing pits the angler against the trout when the animal is using all its evolution, instincts, and life history to feed. The angler is meeting the trout when it is at its best. On the Yakima…it requires anglers to be on a similar level. These wild trout reward anglers who put the time in. They want the fly presented basically perfect…every time…multiple times in a row. They make you love to hate them on the Yakima.
Other rivers and other trout aren’t as picky as our Yakima trout. I have travelled and fished all over and I can definitely state that with confidence. We have had some younger fish a little more eager to eat a dry the past few seasons…but our trout get caught several times, sometimes 50 or more, in a season…they get seasoned real quick.
Dry fly fishing has so many other things going on, its why it can be overwhelming, exhausting, but also fullfilling. It makes you cast better. But more importantly it makes you present the fly better. Which is kind of the whole point, presenting the fly crappy after a perfect cast kind of negates it all. I know plenty of anglers that cast well but present not so well. Baby wipe casts…where you gotta wipe it and try again. Or if I am a little sassy I might just call it a shit cast and tell you to redo it.
Dry fly fishing makes you play the fish better. Trout are in the top of the water column, in smaller water, which makes them more aware of their surroundings. Remember they are searching out tiny little bugs off the surface of moving water. So much goes into a trout feeding on a dry biologically. Trout are using their lateral line, gauging distance, trajectory, current speed, all these things have to happen for a trout to eat a bug off the surface. Its fucking amazing. Just to watch it…but we get to be a part of it. Trout do it naturally, it looks effortless…but it isn’t, its this complex intricate event that happens on our rivers. Knowing and understanding what dry fly fishing really encompasses, makes you appreciate and respect it, gives you a different perspective besides just a cool eat.
Its hard…and thats because as intricate as it is for the trout…its just as complex for the angler. Requiring an angler to be on their game. If the fish eats in slow water near the top of the river they can move incredibly fast…up to 24 miles and hour if they want. I’ve seen it. Remember the top of the water column has the least resistive current which means when trout move…they fucken move…and not just one direction. They change directions especially cutties. If they find the middle of the water column now they have current, depth, and can reach higher speeds with the help of the flow, if they hit the bottom third now they have slow deep water and space to move with less resistance again. Its why when trout go deep they bulldog, change direction a lot, and run. When an angler hooks a trout on a dry they have to be ready to counter the fish in all those water types and they could change throughout the encounter.
The same can be said for other fishing methods…but nymphing and streamer fishing we are usually using heavier lines and tippet, bigger flies less likely to pop out, so the angler has a few advantages. And usually when you hook a trout deep they stay there until they tucker out. Dry fly eaters tend to be a little more spicy. I always think its because they are super pissed it wasn’t a real bug. All that work and they still get tricked. Just makes them all hot and bothered.
Dry fly eats require specific water which brings a whole other aspect to it. Knowing what water, and when, and why, and which fly needed. The weather, barometric pressure, water and air temps, season, water conditions all of that factors into a fish taking a dry. Some days its easy, others its more work. But we do get to a time of year where they will always take a dry at some point during the day, typically by May.
Dry fly fishing also has the added visual benefit. You don’t see nymph and streamer eats, you react to nymph strikes, and you feel streamer eats. It makes the set on those methods easier. Dry fly fishing requires the angler see and time the set correctly to the type of eat from the trout. Be it a slurp or a giant crush of the fly. How fast or slow, how deep or shallow the set has to be is initially determined by a visual que. But the angler also has to feel the set. Almost anticipate it. Because you typically see the fish coming and have to watch the eat to get everything lined up just right…it makes the angler have to gauge time, current speed, and many of the same things the trout has to factor.
Dry fly fishing brings the trout and the angler to their highest levels…and puts them on an even playing field and lets the two encounter each other and hopefully meet. That is why dry fly fishing is my favorite. It requires all the parts and pieces of both the river and trout; and angler sides of this activity to come together. It truly is amazing. Not easy, always challenging, but rewarding.
I had my first trout of the season take a Skwalla Friday. It was fucken magical. It has been since early November. I lose my absolute marbles when they take dries and I couldn’t believe it. And it was a male cutty which just made it that much more special. Its starting…its spring time on the Yakima anglers. Bugs are starting, trees are budding, things are starting to warm, here we go anglers. Trout season.
See ya riverside.