Just want a fish

I just want a fish. Things this spring have been a solid 6 out of 10. I’ve had springs that were a solid shit show 4, others like last year that were a 10 before the high water in early May. This year and 30 trips in…its been a bit of a crap shoot.

But why Nate? You are a fishy fuck, whats up. Well. It is one of the lowest water years in February, March, and even April. Flows were wicked low for early fishing. Making fish spooky early and more pressured than usual. Especially before they started moving about the river as things woke up in mid-March.

We had low flows, low temps, decent bugs, and not very hungry fish. Not food motivated at all. There is no need when water temps never get above 42 until mid-March. Then we had a normal snow pack so our first salmon pulse of the year came on time and flushed they system right as things were perking up, fish went into spawn mode and the river cooled back off. Now that our second salmon pulse has come, fish are pretty much on spawning grounds now. It’s causing things to be slow again. Which is normal. As we get into May, flows will tick up, and they will finish spawning and have to eat.

This looks like it will councide with caddis and salmon flies hatching. Around the first week of May. As long as the flows settle down after this first wave of 70-degree days. Fish will be hungry post spawn, and with more flows, they will eat. And there will be food for them. Salmon flies should be big this season, and they are coming soon with this warm weather. We usually see them in the first part of May. And then there is caffis. Which hatch in the evening as the temps back off of 70 degrees and the barometric pressure shifts slightly and dusk settles in.

Big post spawny fish tucked in the bank out of the heavy flows feed ravenously at this time and gorge all their calories during the blooms of caddis hatching along the river banks. They’ve also been smashing salmon flies along the bank on top and underneath during the day. They have to feed to survive as flows increase. The Yakima gives them plenty to eat.

All March and April we were tagging these fish as they migrated up river for spawning. Most of our fish this season are of spawning age. Like 60 % I’d say. And almost all the spawning happens in only a few spots. Less than 10% in the canyon waters and tribs. Most fish below the thorp diversion dam spawn in the farmlands. Where the gravel beds and braids and channels are. Those above the diversion dam, spawn in the Teanaway, Cle Elum, and Upper Yakima above the Cle Elum confluence. That’s what’s happening now. These salmon pulses flush smolt out but bring big fish up, like the large spring Chinook Salmon, and our steelhead, and of course our rainbow and westslope cutthroat trout. Water temps in the upper river are over 45 in places. Which is spawny. 48 is sweet spot. Which will happen the next few days with the warm days. Cutthroat spawn closer to 50 and journey far into the upper reaches of tiny creeks and braids and blue lines to spawn. It takes them longer and they are usually done by June and work their way back into the systems as the runoff subsides. They move a lot.

All this is happening right now under pur boats and around our feet. It’s pretty fucken rad if you ask me. But it does dampen fishing. And that’s also normal for a wild trout stream. As things settle down the fishing will pick way up. Like way up. We got a little taste this spring. That’s only some of the fish. Only some. There are more and they are all gonna be awake as the spawn finishes up.

Fishing was fantastic last season. And those fish didn’t go anywhere and there are more bigger ones after the winter. The little ones are just kicking up. Little meaning 14 inches and under. It’s about to get silly and the waders are coming off in the next week. Shits about to get serious in this boat.

I am doing a massive pivot with the business this season. We are after 18 to 21 trips a month with the goal of purchasing a saltwater skiff to expand guiding operations to new waters while also guiding retreats and set dates during trout season on the Yakima. That’s what you are helping me accomplish with each trip and tip. It’s going towards my dream of guiding saltwater, Muskie, other rivers, other states, new species, and new experiences and opportunities for all my clients and new ones!

It’s been 10 years in the making amd its almost 10 years. Covid hit my ass hard. And the need for more and bigger and faster is upon me. I’ve gotta go for it or try something else, and I’m not good at anything else these days. I’m a guide and a trout bum. It’s all I’ve ever really wanted. It’s time and that’s what drives me these days. More fish, more money, different places, new people, new experiences with regulars and clients, always chasing a total of 270 guide days between multiple fisheries, and 300 plus days on water a year.

The Yakima is my homewater and has and always will be good to me. I’m stoked for this season. It’s shaping up to be a banger May thru October. We’ve got 6 months of wicked awesome fishing upon us. Come on out, be a part of the process. Learn to fish, really learn. Break it down with me. Let’s figure it out together and find success in lots of different ways. And like always…it’ll be fun.



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