It’s April. It’s not my favorite month but has its sweet spots. The month brings wetter, gloomy weather that weeds out the weak. Fish spawn this month and into May. Water tempsmget closer to 50 degrees every day of the month. Trout eat more and more every day. Salmon smolt begin their seaward migration. The riverbanks come alive with spring green, there’s bud, cotton woods begin to sing in the rain and wind as the leaves grow. Birds and baby otters, little ducklings and gosling, frequent the river, life begins anew in April.
But the beauty of all that has its downside. The river is usually an unpredictable torrent of spring runoff, dam purges, and algae soup kicked up from the dams opening. We are a tailwater after all. Below the Teanaway River the Yakima can get angry in April. The snow locked valley begins to thaw and the largest Freestone tributary of the Yakima can rise upwards of 8000cfs when melt begins. This storm coming through this week helps greatly and our snow pack is in the 70s in April amd we want it in the 80 percentile. All that damn sunshine in March was nice but not so nice.
Being a tailwater the flows are somewhat controlled even when the Teanaway starts spewing. The flood plain restoration and work that’s been done in the headwaters of the Teanaway watershed over thr past decade is starting to show results with more normal spring runoff episodes. Above the Teanaway from thr Cle Elum River confluence to Lake Easton the river sees a few minor high water events until a salmon pulse is ordered or a purge needs to happen due to the reservoirs being at capacity. Salmon pulses mimic spring runoff and push smolt to the Columbia so that baby salmon can grow up to be food and fertilizer.
A lot of trout spawning occurs from the Teanaway confluence up to Lake Easton dam. I’ve chosen to fish less up river during the spawn which leaves me at the mercy of the Teanaway and purges but I, as well as others, have seen a vast improvement in quality of fish as well as quality since the 2020 closure during the spawn. Leave big fish alone during the spawn and they stuck around in the fall.
The hatches change this month as well. We transition out of the Skwalla Hatch which usually last into the 2nd week. Maybe longer. March Browns have ready started to percolate and will become the dominate food source for the rest of the month for most trout. Streamer fishing also ramps up due to water fluctuations, smolt getting pushed around, baby sculpin that have gotten fun sized since hatching, and big trout spawning like to eat meat. Caddis will also start to become a regular food source as flows tick up and down and warmer days and evenings settle in. Trout will begin feeding into the late hours of the evening as we get closer to May. Waiting to feed on caddis hatches at dusk. Also salmon fly stonrflies begin migrating for hatching in May as well. Nocturnal this also lends to thr evening feed with trout. We are due up for a big salmon fly hatch this season.
As we get into the month I watch the weather, flow, and wind charts like a hawk. Several times a day sometimes. The river and weather change a lot in April. We get new logs and jams like the new one below KOA or the blockage below state. Trout are moving and shaking a lot. Constantly and inconsistently changing and adapting to conditions. It’s can be a tougher month to fish but a very rewarding one with the colored trout, big trout, and really great dry fly fishing on the good days.
The river is up and a little blown, but is going to settle within a few days. Hopefully the higher elevations got that good 8 to 10 inches of snow they were calling for because we need it badly. I’m back on the river Thursday, river cooperating of course. I’ve got a good chunk of days coming up after this storm amd little water surge. No dam releases yet, Teanaway taking care of things for now. They’ve started priming irrigation but that really doesn’t start until May. April 15th they will start to open things up more irrigation wise.
We’ve got a few weekends open, 10th thru the 14th during this sweet little window coming up. And already taking trips for caddis in May. Full Days and Half Days are now open. $450 and $375. We also do walk and wades $275 in the upper river and lower Cle Elum. I leave for Colorado at the end of the month so get your trips in before I leave for a minute to get the boat fixed up. When booking in April we really look at the weather and forecasts when getting dates locked down so give me a call or email and get on the calendar!
See ya riverside anglers.