The Autumn

This summer has been weird. The weather is funky. Like really funky. We’ve had multiple heat waves and triple digits, more wind than ever, and we’ve battled some warm water temps this year. And now….before August ends we seem to be slipping into the Autumn.

We have a cooling trend and now it’s not getting above 80. Might see some warmer days over the next 3 weeks but the forecasts call for lower temps as we move into September. I can tell you the river is already moving that way.

The summer stones or Shortwing Stonefly is hatching. Has been for a week or so. And that ushers in the fall season. They usually hatch at the end of the month into September as the temps start to cool. They’ve already started. Which means the river and fish know and feel what’s coming before we do.

Flows haven’t started dropping and probably won’t for 3 more weeks. Already water temps are cooling back down. I suspect next week we will be back to fishing in the evening.  We were seeing 65 and 70 degrees in the upper and lower respectively, but already water temps have dropped back to 60 degrees. Those higher elevation overnight lows are cooling the water again. Wooo! 

Fishing has been great. Absolutely awesome. You all are missing out. Covid scares, and economic stuff, as well as smoke and water temps have been making for a really light month this August.  Not what I want but it’s reality right now and 17 months into this pandemic it’s still having a large effect on things whether people believe it or not. I usually work 10 15 days in a row in August prior to covid, with 20 to 30 trips done with double days.  We’ve been lucky to get to 3 to 5 in a row and 15 a month. It’s still light and that stress is there as we come into the end of the season. I’m already planning pivots for the winter as I knew I wouldn’t work enough to get through an offseason. The fall season brings a lot of excitement due to the fishing but also some anxiety as guide-able days become less and less.

I’ve made my living for 7 years this way. Got a little tougher these last 2 seasons. Changes are neccessary moving forward. Scary but also part of the plan. Just pivoting on the how and what.

The fall brings me that clarity. Things slow back down. The river settles into her regular pace.  I know the river the best in the Autumn. I’ve spent more days on water in the fall over the past 10 years than most. The river has changed considerably these past 2 seasons which makes the river even more fun as the water drops.

The best mother fucken hatches on the Yakima River are in the late season. And we are already onto our first big one. Let me brake it down real quick like.

Summer stones usher in the end of the summer. Big stoneflies that hatch nocturnal. This tells us the overnight lows are shifting and the barometric pressure is starting to change from that consistent summer time high pressure to more normal fluctuating barometric pressure. Sciencey but after years you can feel it. Gets the guide senses tingling.

The water starts to drop due to the flip flop, when they turn off irrigation water flows and the river drops back to her normal size around 1500 cfs generally. She sits around 900 to 1200 in the upper by end of October. This drop in flow also gives us our naturally fluctuating water temps again. Temps rise and fall during the 24 hr cycle more naturally making fish metabolism more normal and puts fish in the prime feeding temp zone. That lovely 52 to 58 degree water. Fish start to act more trouty.

Then the Cranefly Hatch occurs. It’s the fucken best anglers. These dangle morsels hatch in the late am and the fish go bonkers. We get to skate flies and watch trout chase em and eat the crap out of them. It’s awesome balls. That’s gonna start really soon. Get on the calendar.

Then as things start to cool down air temp wise more the October Caddis and mayflies return. I’m very stoked for these hatches. Fish are ravenous in October and have to pack in as much as they can for the winter. As it gets colder the big fish get hangrier. We get to skate big orange bugs in the late afternoon and evening after picking apart riffles with little dries for sipping trout. Headhunting at its finest. Oh ya. Bwos, mahogany duns, and cahills all hatch in the late season. Mmmm. Little dries.

Lastly we get a bunch of salmon in the system. Eggs, and flesh oh ya. Trout chase down the salmon and feed off them. They feed off the little fish feeding off the salmon, it becomes a crazy food frenzy for fish. We get to huck streamers and swing em for big boys, we get do run eggs and sucking leech patterns for Trout. And yes you can dead drift flesh flies and produce chonkers. It’s awesome. So if you like to swing or chase really big fish…October baby.

There are roughly 60 days of the late season left to fish. Let’s fill them up with clients, trout, and happy faces. We all need it. Come on out for the end of the 2021 trout season! It’ll be really fun.

Tamarack

One thought on “The Autumn

  1. Good read. Sorry to hear you are slow because of Covid scares… that is surprising, and I would have guessed otherwise. I’ve actually experienced an increase in angling pressure in Illinois since the Covidpocalypse began… but I’m a simple bank fisherman fishing what looks like much less remote areas. Where do you guide? Have a great week.

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