The 2022 season has started! It’s been a good start, too. No skunky days. And we usually have a few at the start! Fish are awake; they are moving, and they are feeding.
I’ve seen risers every time I’ve been riverside. Haven’t got any love yet and only tried a few times. Fucken emerging midges. I hate that game. Here in 15 days, they are gonna smack big skwalla dries. I can wait.
The nymphing has been great. I even had a client euro nymph, and we worked it with the boat and touched a handful. They are podded up with larger fish, starting to break away and find feeding lines and holding water. Getting territorial. Which means they are prepping for the spawn. The water temps warm up quickly as the sun gets on the river. Already, I’ve seen 1 and 2-degree rises 3 feet down in areas, which doesn’t seem like a lot…but it is. 41 degrees is warm enough for spawning for both our species, but cutties tend to spawn later and higher up, so there isn’t as much overlap as you might think. With water temps in the upper between 34 and 38 and the lower just a tad warmer, we aren’t far off from spawning troots, which means they gotta eat.
As these fish get ready to spawn, keep in mind that these are wild animals. Be nice; these big fish are going to make more fish, and they need care. Revive them, take time with them, and keep them wet as much as possible. They’ve had 2 years of less pressure during the spawning window. The river is better for it. As someone who has fished it since 04…its better. Less pressure during the spawn hadls made a world of difference since the 2020 season.
Watch where you walk. Especially in the side channel water. Watch them anchor drops and be cautious. We live in a state where fish are declining in a lot of places. We have something special and precious here. There’s a lot of pressure on the Yakima. We all just need to be respectful to each other and, most importantly…the fish.
Skwallas are on the menu. Now, the hatch may not be as stupid good as it was last season, but they are coming. Fish are already eating them underneath as they migrate towards the bank. In 2 weeks, we should be fining skwallas along the bank staging to hatch. Awww ya. Nymphing. Swinging soft hackles. And, of course, dry fly fishing are all effective ways to break down the skwalla hatch. Those bugs get active around 10 and usually are on the surface later in the day around 3. Fish feed into the evening on them. It’s quite glorious. I think we are 15 days out. Maybe a little more. At least for the lower river. The upper river is going to be a little different this season with all that snow and more to come before the thaw.
The last week of Feb first week of March is probably going to be the window again this year. It’s not a finely tuned science. A lot of things have to line up for it to happen but with forecasts and what the river is telling me. Yeah….same time frame as last season. Get it anglers.
We also have a lot of salmon fry and smolt in the system. As well as sculpins. As the flows jump up to 2000 and 2500 here in the next 10 days, those smaller fish are gonna be a big source of food, too. They get displaced in the heavier flows as runoff starts to trickle out of the mountain. Over the last few years, especially since the sockeye got reintroduced, the salmon is a big food source for pre and post spawn trout.
Swinging meat for troot anglers. I’ve been hunting on my personal time, for that one big trout on the swing. I got a taste of it yesterday while fishing with Kearstyn. I got schooled by a big troot after it whacked the fuck out my sparkle minnow, bent the shit out of my 4wt, then came at me like a jet engine was in its ass and rolled off before I could get good tension…damn! I was pretty bummed. Girlfriend even noted how obviously upset with myself I was. I’ve been hunting since November. I just got to keep at it. Just like my clients. I put myself through the same things I put them through.
Fishing has been good. It’s slow to start, but fish are more inclined to eat later into the day, riding the temperature fluctuation of the river. As the sun sets later and later, the fish will eat into dusk more and more until after caddis in May. Then, the early morning games start up.
The best window right now is 1 to 4pm. With fish eating up to 5 pm. That will be 6 pm in 10 days. Then it’s springtime fishing, baby. Awww ya. It’s all coming together out there, and the river is talking, and the fish are giving up her secrets. Here we go, anglers!
I’ve got 3 weekends left open in March. The 5th and 6th, which falls right during skwalla poppin’. And the 20th. Which may be too late, but bwos, maybe even March Browns will be going by then. There are lots of weekdays open over the next 3 months…until there isn’t. There are days open in February, too! Those of you who want to swing or euro nymph the next 3 weeks are looking really good. Skwalla Special is running, and I think I’ve got one of the better rates for it this season.
Days in the rest of the season are getting picked up every week. As far out as July and August. Which is new for me. I am a lot more busy than expected in terms of how far out things are booking. Already got dates during salmon flies, caddis, Goldens, Teanaway river wade trips, and there is a clinic on February 19th that is open.
Come on out for a date of fishing. They are booking up. Hope to see you all riverside this season in some form.