Every season I find a fish. Or better put…my fish. Every year I scour the river from top to bottom…mostly up top…in search of a Yakima River Trout that will test me. I find several of these troots each year. I keep some for myself but I mostly put others on them. I do this because these are some of the hardest trout to trick. If I can get clients to trick them…then I know I am groovy.
If you’re a client, these are the fish I warn you about. The troots with names, that live in really prime lies. the ones I go back up river for. These are the fish others pass by and leave for their days off or for more experienced clients. No matter your experience level…I will give you a shot if you listen. These are the fish you don’t see…or barely see. The kind of troot, tricking is only the first hurdle. Landing them takes more skill and typically team work. If you’re a client you know these fish. Only land 40 percent of these trout anglers. The odds are never in your favor.
Clients are one thing. I am still an angler at my core. So I take the opportunity with a few of these trout. I have one spot in particular that has tested me each season for the past 5…this year…2020…I finally found success.
The Cle Elum is no longer a secret. You can blame me. I keep sending people to it. But if you’re not experiencing these places why would you care about them. I love the Cle Elum. It is one of my favorite wading rivers in the late season.
There is a spot, not hard to find. Up river from the bullfrog tiny house bridge. The river goes into the trees and flows heavy and fast up against a cut bank with overhanging limbs and snags. There used to logs in there but they moved out. Which may explain my success as I have broken fish off under the logs in this spot more times than I care to admit. There is video over the seasons of me battling and losing fish in this spot. Like I said. 40 percent see the net.
There is always a large trout here. Its a prime lie just large enough for a small pod of 10 to 14ers or one really big 18er plus. If you’re lucky the big one is there.
The water is tricky. Its compact. River is only 25 to 30 ft wide. Deepest spot along the cut bank is 4 feet. Just slow enough along the substrate to give a cushion for a large trout to chill and eat, safe from predators and within travel distance from a deep slow pool down river. It’s money. There are overhangs and snags above and below the river surface, faster water that others may pass later in the year looking for that walking speed water. But rainbow trout…big ones…like that fast water when its 48 degrees or warmer and it was holding right at 50 in late October.
I came to the spot last. Knowing the fish would be most active after 2 pm. Knowing I only had about a 45 minute window that the fish would be really active I waited for that window. I nymphed as there was no bugs after 2, I was hoping to pick some off with BWOs but alas that was wishful thinking. A pats stone nymph in a size 8 coffee and a small size 16 tungsten bead mayfly nymph. Nothing fancy.
It took 4 presentations. When the indicator slid into the slipstream of the current and hovered slightly on the edge of the fast water near the edge of the small bucket that formed along the bank that cut in slightly….it went down hard. Then went down river and I saw the flash of the leviathan.
My heart fluttered and my body flooded with adrenaline. Immediately feeling the power of the trout and realizing I had put myself right back into this situation like so many previous seasons in this spot. I focused, played the fish coaching myself the same way I coach my clients. Shit works. The fish came into the net…and finally after seasons of trial and error…success.
Even an experienced angler like myself finds challenges and has skills tested and honed through troot. The Yakima still tests me. Learning and becoming an angler on this river will put you on the fast track to becoming a good angler. My clients that started as noobs are a testament to it.
Those trout that test you, make you come back for more punishment, the ones that teach you as much as enrage while also enriching you. Angling is one of the only activities that does that. After 16 seasons chasin trout on the Yakima I still find myself enthralled by the wild trout that reside within her waters. After 6 years of guiding full time…I still seek out the challenge of those trout and the clients I get to introduce to them.
Tis a troot out there for ya anglers. Tis a troot that is the culmination of your efforts, the time, the patience, the trial and error…coming together and locking you into your epitome of angling at that time. Cherish those moments, those fish, and what they mean to you. Think about where they come from, what they’ve endured up to the point of the battle with you. Ponder your own journey to that moment. Both on and off river.. Two species meeting one another…its not a trivial thing and is so much more than just a big trout in your hands.
See ya riverside anglers.