The Hopper Run

It’s hopper season coming up. Late July and most of August is when grasshoppers start becoming a readily available food source for Trout pushed into the banks due to the high summer flows. The Yak is a tailwater after all and these trout know how to play this game.

You’ve got 2 options during the summer hoppers. Fish wicked early in the am and be on water with the sun or before. There is a summer stonefly hatch in the evening or early AM like 2 to 4am. Trout are on a nightly feeding cycle when water temps get above 55 56 degrees. And they are starting to get that warm. Trout metabolism is at its peak with those water temps and they basically have to eat all the time as they are burning through calorie intake fast with heavy flows and nominal water temps. This is the advantage to the angler. Trout are hungry and they are easier to find when they are tight to bank looking for easy eats that fall off the banks, overhangs, grass lines, and trees.

Much like what they due for caddis which also congregate around the edges of the river for mating and then ovipositng. Trout are conditioned to feed off the bank on the Yakima.  An evolved behavior that is specific to the type of bugs but also they type of water amd river our trout have during the summer months. Most places have less water and fish are having to move more to find cold water…think the Madison in August. Or the Joe, they get really small and fish behave differently. The Yakima bumps up flows to its maximum and holds them there for 3 months. Fish behave differently here due to that kind of constant stimulation in thier environment and the adapt well, within a generation.  So fish know what’s up on the Yak.

That early AM feed is when the larger trout, with better eyesight, who prefer to eat in darkness or low light, feed ravenously on stoneflies and bank bugs.  As we hit them in the morning they are still keyed onto that stonefly migration and oviposit.  But trout can’t tell the difference between a pink hopper and a tan stonefly in the dark or low morning light. So they crush shit, really hard.  Trying to fill up thier bellies to bursting. As the heat and sun come out amd the surface water temps rise, larger trout will descend in the water column due to high barometric pressure, seek out colder faster water, or tuck in tight to the slivers of shaded fast water along the banks.  They are seeking cover and oxygen, surviving off the midnight and morning feed through the afternoon, or snacking on nymphs, and then they come back out at dusk and start all over.

That night time feed starts late, around 7. And goes until the next morning.  Water temps hit their peak in the evening and start a cooling trend downward around 2 am.  Fish feed as the temps come up, and then punch as much into thier faceholes as that temp drops knowing the pressure is going to shift as the sun rises. If water temps crest 62 63, trout can be sluggish, because they can’t breath as well in hotter water which has less oxygen content.  Trout want want things to be 52-58, that’s the prime water temp zone.

Whatever your preference there are 1 to 3 hour windows of intense dry fly action tight to the bank in the mornings and evenings on the Yakima through the summer. It’s already starting in sections of the river.

The afternoons can be great nyphming and streamers but half day floats just hitting those sweet spots is really where it’s at anglers.

So what is a Hopper Run?  A hopper run is when I do a longer than normal float. Say 10 to 15 miles. The river is high and fast.  I teach you how to fish a single big dry or a dry dropper rig…but mostly and single dry, as tight to the bank and into the fast moving hydraulic water and seams along the river.  It’s hard, it’s fast paced, it can be really intense work, and requires anglers to listen, cast well, and set the hook and play big trout like a mother fucker. These trout got shoulders, are adults have full bellies, and know how to use that heavy current to take line, run, jump, bull dog, and roll.  Fighting fish on hopper runs takes skill.  I don’t stop the boat. We land fish moving at speed and chase them down river if they are really nice. I don’t get out, you don’t get out, we just hit every single fucken spot with 2 or 6 good casts. You’ll reach cast, you’ll drop cast, hit flies off of rocks and the bank to drop the fly in position, you’ll get 4 to 6 feet of drag free drift, pick it up and huck it back in there with no false cast a 2nd and 3rd time. Firing off a trouts lateral line with each smack of the big try, trying to entice them to seek it out and smash the every living hell out of it. 

You’ll get hoover eats, where they suck the fly down underwater to drown it as they eat. You’ll get turn and burn down river swipes and slash takes, you’ll get big explosive smashes and turns on flies, and you get lazy, sneaky, methodical eats. All the good stuff, on the dry, just fucking your life up with trout all morning or all evening. It’s rad.

Requires early rising. Like on water at 4 and 5 am. Or off river at 10:30 pm. I like to run 2 a days with a halfer in the AM and a halfer in the PM. Sleep during the day. Maybe 4 hrs a night and just catch trout, lose my voice hooting and hollering, and making money. Thats a hopper run. Just getting after it.

That’s what is coming and is already starting anglers. It’s a big cold water year and trout are loving it. So come on out and give it a try. It’s a different way I fish this time of season. Instead of breaking things down and working less water, we just go for it until it gets hot and then start over as it cools off. Missing the floaters, tuber, rafters, 9 to 5ers, and only a handful of guides amd anglers getting into that shit.

Let’s go, dates are open and this season has awesome water for the summer. Its great flows and water temps, sun is out, and the fish…they are eating anglers.

See ya riverside,


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