Those Skwalla Eats

I can feel it in the troutesphere…there will be skwalla eats in the future. There is something to behold when you see a big wild trout take a skwalla dry fly off the surface. Mmmm.

Trout have been wintering sipping little bugs and the occasional sculpin or worm.  Not the most appealing diet, and if you think trout don’t have picky tastes in their food you haven’t fished enough.

Like most critters, trout are opportunistic but also one of the most adapted creatures to their environment. They know things anglers could only dream of knowing. What they see, move, hear, feel the aquatic world is astounding. As an angler I am always striving to understand trout more. Over the years, I have come to understand a great deal about trout especially when it pertains to eating bugs off the surface.

It’s no secret as an angler; I am a dry fly fisherman. It’s my favorite; it’s what I’m best at and presents the most challenging encounters with Yakima River Trout I’ve ever experienced both personally and guiding. I’ve spent the better part of my angling career fine tuning dry fly fishing. As a guide, I’ve spent a good amount of my hours teaching, working, and opening up the world of dry fly fishing to clients.

It’s not just a thing we do for 20% of the day. When I worked for outfitters, I was told and expected to only target dry fly fishing for 20% of the day. What a waste of a day. There are just as many trout up on top as underneath once water temps are up above 42 and even better above 50. Once we get those conditions, we are hunting on dries. It works here. Trout on this river are wary of the dry.  You have to be patient and precise, and you have to read water really well. Not just position and presentation, the timing of the drift, the amount of lead time to the fish, angles of approach when one doesn’t work, sun, shade, cover, so much goes into a dry eat. It takes work on both ends, client and guide. When it comes together, it’s fucken magical. 

Trout only get stupid a few times a season for dry flies. We see it during hoppers, drakes, ants sometimes. We even see amazing feeding during mayfly hatches but there is one time a year….when trout go absolutely bonkers for top water flies….Skwallas. 

Maybe it’s because they’ve been hibernating all winter eating shit that tastes like dirt and is little. Skwallas taste like bacon for a trout coming outta the winter months, and they are huge compared to other bugs. The first big bug of the year. Of course it corresponds with spawning, water temps coming up, spring runoff, all these things that make trout need a larger, more robust food source come together in the first few weeks of the spring season on most western rivers. The Yak is no different.

Trout, get pushed around from the runoff.  Trout are looking for territory, areas where they can feed, swim, feel safe, and move about the system. Trout, don’t sit still; they are constantly moving and seeking out places that give them food, cover, and oxygen. In the spring, everything has oxygen, so those places with cover and food become easier to find. It’s still cold for a trout, but not that cold. 42 to 50 degree water is equivalent to our 50 to 60 degree days. Pretty comfortable. Trout are hungry and are now prepping for the spawn, the heavy flows, and the pressure of nature like predators…survival kinda stuff. It all begins in the spring. Right when this big easy to find, easy to eat food source becomes readily available. Skwallas.

They hatch on the bank and lay eggs on the water. Fish are all about big twitchy bugs in the soft water along the swollen banks of a springtime river.  The way these trout eat skwallas is something else. Like a grasshopper eat, but in March. Trout lie in wait sometimes coming 4 to 6 ft to the surface to eat a skwalla. When a fish moves that much to the surface, it’s explosive!  A 2lbs trout moving at top speed for a skwalla will lunge out of the river, literally crushing the bug with its head and shoulders as it eats it. It’s like trout forget how to eat big bugs over the winter.  They expose themselves, give up position, and fight and jockey for the best areas to feed on these bugs. Trout will hold in an area, sometimes for a few days, other times a few weeks.  It depends on the species, water conditions, and that sort of thing.  They can be larger area for a good number of fish or they can be small tight areas only for a few fish.  Water reading becomes a key to dry fly hunting.

We get a 10-day 2-week window that this process happens over with our trout. It’s the start of their season too. And skwallas are a great way to usher it all in.

Nothing quite like rolling up on a good 100 yard spot of bank with overhanging brush, maybe a stick and log or two in there, some good sized rocks 2 to 4 feet down 6 feet off the bank.  That slow walking speed water that’s just a little swollen from about 400 cfs of runoff in the river. Mmmm, juicy stuff.  Those precise casts tight to the bank twitched 2 to 3 feet off the grass line, a big trout underneath watching, waiting to face punch that fly. It twitches one last time almost put of range for the fish to want to eat it… But it’s spring, and that troot is hungry. 

Just before you get ready to pick up for another cast….a violent splash occurs as a pink banded leviathan with a set of big green, black spotted shoulders launches out of the river!  There is panic, there is tension, and there is a trout in the air 15 feet from the boat with a fake ass bug hanging in its face!  It’s like a stick of dynamite goes off under your fly sometimes!  It’s amazing.

I’ve had the good fortune of experiencing skwallas many times on the Yak and other rivers. It’s the same no matter where….trout love that bug.  Anglers who have been in a skwalla hatch know…its something else. I have many fond memories of skwalla days over the years. A day where 5 to 10 large, and I mean, large ass fish decide to fuck up some skwallas. The kind of fish getting ready to make more fish….ya….the good ones.

Its here anglers…all those things are lining up. And although I do love to experience dry fly fishing on skwallas for myself…its a lot more fun, and more challenging for me…when I’m guiding during it.

I guess that’s what separates guides from anglers. I’d prefer to guide skwallas instead of fishing them myself. Maybe it’s a bit of “been there done that,” for me, but really, I just get a kick outta being in the cockpit of the drift boat, not the horns. Oars in hands not a fly rod. I can’t fish and row at the same time.

The hunt is on, for those big dry fly eats, for trips on the calendar, for that one trout this spring that just never gets topped all season.  A handful of clients know what I’m talking about….there’s always one fish that gets landed in the spring that’s pushing 20-22 inches.  The biggest and baddest troot…always happens in the spring, and we spend all season trying to find another one. Maybe you could land that fish this season. 

Come on out. Skwalla pop this weekend, and I’ve got the 7th through the 10th open next week during what looks like could be the peak of the skwallas in the lower river. Who’s coming?  Land that big trout for me and help me lose my mind on dry fly eats.

See ya riverside anglers,

Tamarack

Spring is….springing…

Those of you anglers that watch the flows know that some shit is coming. Our first big runnoff event on the spring is starting as I’m typing this. 

This river is forecasted to hit around 7000 to 8000 cfs over the next few days. It’s already moving up as the rain comes in, snow melts, and the warmer temps slide in. We have already seen the weather shift to muggy and warmer than it was a week ago during the cold snap. It feels like a Blue Wing Olive kind of day.

This is awesome for fishing. Yeah, it sucks we have to sit it out for a few days, but by the 3rd, we start to see the flows drop. Which is money. The river in the spring up around 2200 to 2800 is damn near perfect flows. Especially after a drop. By the 7th, the flows are predicted to go back down to 2000. So a big flush is coming and we need it. The rest of the lowland snow will melt, groundwater will swell, and we will see our consistent above 2000 flows start to hang out.

You always want to fish the drops. Fish displace and have to seek out refuge, pod up, and hunker down for the heavy water. Like hunkering down for a snowstorm for us. After things start to subside, those fish are hungry, cranky, and tired of being stuck together in big pods. They wanna spread out and get into those smaller feeding pods of 15 to 30. Not 50 plus. They start to look for territory for the spring, and they also feed for spawning. It’s all happening this week. Trout getting trooty anglers.

Clients on the calendar are in for a treat as these conditions slowly materialize. I’m internally giddy and stoke AF to fish three next 3 weeks. It’s going to be sweet; all the stuff and things that make for good trooting are coming together. 

There is rain in the forecast; we have 45 plus degree air temps. Overnight lows aren’t freezing; mmmm…fishy.  The muggy rain is here; overcast skies. BWOs hatch in this stuff, especially after a flush. Skwallas are going to pop after this flush. The huge push in water is going to help move the nymph colonies into the banks of the river and get the hatch going.

I’m telling ya anglers; this shit is coming, and it’s going to be glorious. If you want to get the dry fly, eat, skwalla holla, pick sippers with mayfly dries, soft hackles swinging, streamer tugs, and a big ass indicator take downs nymphing. Fish get ravenous after a flush, and the water temps are going to hit 42, plus they are going to be like fat trout misses to the fly! 

The calendar is filling, but I’ve got some opening during this sweet trooty, juicy time headed on way.

March 7th to the 10th right during this week stuff is open. Those weekdays have fewer people, more troot for you.

March 17th is open for a special discount of $275. St. Patty’s Day and the only day open in 11. I just want that day filled, so I get 11 days in a row!

I also have a Spring Wade Fishing Clinic on March 20th with 6 spots open!

March 22nd through the 25th is also open during the skwalla hatch. After that, it will probably start to subsides and switch to mayflies.

So there you have it. Got to sit for a few days as the river flushes. Get on it, hoard, when it starts to drop on Thursday/Friday. Skwalla Special $325.00 is running through March!

Call, email, text to reserve. Super stoked to get out there this spring. Let’s go anglers!!! Time to chase TROOT!

See ya riverside anglers,

Tamarack

Last Open Dates for March

Trips are rolling in, and dates are filling up. Time for the monthly last open dates post.

For March, here iz what’s open!

March 7th through the 10th.

March 17th St. Patty’s Day. Running a special price trip that day for $275.00. Save an extra $50 bucks cuz it’s the only day open from the 11th to the 21st, and I want a big run of trips during skwallas! Get it before someone else does.

I’ve got a Spring Fishing Wade Clinic on the 20th with open spots!

March 22nd through the 25th.

March 28th through the 31st. Which is the last work for skwallas, and we start running regular full days in April, so get in on that Skwalla Special $375.00 pricing before it’s too late.

Dates are open after March, of course, but things have been filling up quickly, and it’s only gonna get busier. Weekends are booking weeks and months out this season. It’s kind of crazy! Wooo!

Hope to see ya riverside anglers.

Tamarack.

Snow and cold sucks…but skwallas don’t.

As per usual, the Yakima is being cold-hearted. Winter was like, “Oh, you all wanna go fishing and have skwallas in February…well that’s just too damn bad!”

Last week, I saw my first few skwallas fluttering around. Like 4 bugs. We lost our cool a little, but it was too chill and a bit too early still.  Insert big sigh…

Even right now, it’s absolutely gorgeous out. Sunny, but fuck me, it’s cold. Like 25 degrees cold. And it’s always cooler riverside. Water temps are still around 40. Needs to come up a tad.  The sun helps. It keeps the water temps stable until this weather snaps to warmer. We saw a 60-plus degree air temp last week. Little tease of what’s to come..here next Monday. And yes, like every skwalla hatch it’s a crapshoot, and one of those should be next week kind of things…damn weather.

That being said, it is going to happen. We needed this rush of frigid air. Really seal in all the stuff that melted soft up on those mountains. We want our snow pack to be like that hard to get out of the freezer shit. That way, it won’t all melt in April and blow the river out for a month. It still could happen, but extended forecasts say otherwise.

I’ve done my homework. I looked at all the charts, blogs, and noaa stuff.  It’s looking pretty normal. This cold snap and snow up high are pretty normal. Little later than usual and slightly colder than average, but meh…not too bad. But the real focus is the next two weeks. I promise this time.

Cold will move through by the weekend. It’s going to be single digits; it’s gonna snow through the 28th. But then it breaks. Finally. We will see 40 plus degree days with lows in the mid to high 20s. Which is awesome. 60 degrees feels amazing, but it’s March. I’ll take 50 degrees and a little muggy with the moisture and melt. We also need things to melt slowly. Not all at once. We don’t need 8000 cfs in the river. Fucks the whole process up!  This is one of those things about guiding that still after 8 seasons stresses me out. One super power…control the weather. Is it too much to ask for?

Skwallas will come that first week of March. May not peak until near the end of the second with the current forecasts. We see a slight uptick in flows closer to 1500 2000 cfs that first work of March…that shit is money!  Gets cold, warms up just a bit, moves fish, brings temps slowly up to 42-45, fish transition to spawning easily and naturally like they’ve got to the past 2 seasons…it all has the makings for awesomeness. This is why the calendar is almost full. Wooo.

However. There’s a lot of weekdays open during those first 2 weeks still. And I can’t catch all the fish on skwallas myself. It’s better 2 at a time. The river is busy on the weekends, obviously, so I push for weekday trips.

The dates that are still open during this time frame we are discussing above are:

March 1st-3rd. March 6th-10th these four days….mmmm…they look real good!  And the 16th and 17th.  I also have another Clinic on March 20th that is open.

After that, skwallas will probably wane; fish will eat em, but the hatch will have peaked.  Bwos aren’t far off either, and we should see them in the afternoons next week, too!  Dry flies! 

After the 20th, skwallas will wane, but fish will still eat them. Bwos should start next week in the afternoons, too.  March Browns aren’t far off. As the water warms and fish start to move around and transition for spawning, the swinging will only get better. We’ve consistently got into at least 1 good one every time we put some time in, which will improve over the next 2 months. That cold weather made those fish super sleepy, and that warming trend we had for a few weeks just wasn’t quite enough to jumpstart us as early as we all would have preferred.

But it means we have a good snow pack, and trout have gotten fat and happy the past month eating nymphs and slow slurping sculpin. All the fish have been fat the past 2-3 weeks. A little different than a month plus ago when they were a little snakey, coming out of the winter. As the flows change and temps come up…they have to eat even more.  Awwww ya! 

So there it is, my breakdown of the next few weeks of what fishing should look like. Flows might get close to 2500 2700 cfs by mid-March. Which is just peachy with me. Pushes shit around and puts fish in the obvious water in the upper. Mmmm. 

So let’s fill up some more dates and chase trout anglers. These conditions are looking mighty appealing. Come out and take a crack at skwalla and swinging and all that troots stuff we river people do.

Skwalls special runs through March. $325 for 2 anglers. Come get some! 

See ya riverside anglers,

Tamarack

Things are starting.

So I’m stoked. I’ve been looking at the graphs and charts and the weather and forecasts. Ooooo.  I’m excited. Let’s get into it because fishing session is fing here anglers. It’s here!!!

So the flows are gonna come up this Sunday Monday. Little uptick. Probably a bump of 800 cfs maybe more. It’s gonna super charge the river with cold water. It’s going to displace fish, it’s also going to bring the flows up over 2500cfs which is runoff levels for early season.  Que spawning, skwallas, and the whole ecosystem coming to life.

We have 50 degree days this week, it’s super sunny, snow in the lowlands is damn near gone. The water table is charging, and water is seeping back into the Yakima. It’s like pumping blood into and through the heart. Bugs start moving, birds show up, twitterpated otters, and, of course, fish. Already, fishing has had an uptick over the past 10 days. It only gets better. Plus, the sun sets after 6 now. The fishing window grows each day. Water warms a little bit more each day. But next week….mmmm… it looks like it feels like it’s going to be the start. Just a little bump in cfs is all it takes, and all I want. Already, the flows are where I like them for the spring. 2000 to 2800 is just fine for me. 2300 to 2500 is the sweet spot.

The 24th through the 28th into March is looking mighty juicy…and it’s wide open for guide trips. Wanna swing up that big one, or get first crack at skwalla dry fly eats?  Ya…I can feel it the troutasphere.  Plus it my birthday next week and I’d like to spend it riverside making money in all honesty.

So if you’re looking for that early season trooty day, that is when conditions look to light up real sweet like. Real comfortable for troot chasing…the 24th through March 1st is looking mighty fine.

That’s my trooty two cents for what I see unfolding with the river over the next 10 to 15 days. See ya riverside. Skwalla Special is $325.

Tamarack.

The Skwalla

You may hear the word ‘skwalla’ being thrown around the fly shop or river over the next month. You might see anglers get all hot and bothered when the hatch shows up.  You might lose your own shit when you see a big troot hoover a big dry like it’s August but it’s Late February early March.  It’s the Skwalla Stonefly….and it causes fish, critters, and anglers to lose their minds!

The skwalla is a stonefly. We have a handful of species that hatch on the Yakima. The stonefly is a carnivorous little aquatic insect that lives in the river for up to 4 years before it hatches and becomes an adult for a few days to reproduce. Like all our stoneflies here…they live in the big rocks hunting amd feeding and growing. When late February and March rolls around our first big bug of the season starts waking up.

Stoneflies eat other bugs. And as they get ready to hatch, they are relentless. They feed and slowly migrate towards the banks and shallow areas of the river. This is happening right now. The skwallas are moving into the bank and feeding….getting ready to hatch. This happens because the bugs have reached sexual maturity. Some waiting for 4 years to become an adult and pass on their genetics. Water conditions, air temps, barometric pressure, and time of year all have to overlap in order for these bugs to pop. And every other critter in and around the river knows this.

Birds, small fish, other bugs, and of course troots eat these crunchy morsels. They pack a lot of protein, are easy to eat, and are in abundance for 10 to 20 days while the entire ecosystem of the river wakes up and ushers in spring. The weather has shifted, flows have come up, runoff has started its trickle, water temps are fluctuating, the sun is out, and in a few weeks the green will come back to the river and hillsides. Skwallas bring in the spring season anglers.

Already, fish are chasing the skwallas along the bottom of the river. The majority of the fish we have hooked into have been on stonefly nymph imitations. 2 weeks ago, fish were deeper and near the middle of the river. This week, they are closer to the riverbank.  This means fish are following the food.  As the water temps hit 42-45 degrees, the rainbow trout get spawny, which makes them get hungry. The w tire population of trout in the river. All 2000 per mile….they all start getting into a frenzy for these bugs. It starts in the lower river and works its way up river over the next 3 to 4 weeks. When the water hits 6 cutties join the party.

Skwallas cycle, because they are nymphs for 2 to 4 years, we have cycles of big hatches and small hatches. Since the 2015 drought, keeping track of when the big hatches come has been difficult. Hot water does a nu.ber in invertebrates. After 8 years since that drought, I think the skwalla hatch is back to normal cycles. This means we get decent hatches every season, and every 2 to 4, we get a massive hatch. The last season was a big hatch, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be here this season in droves. We have had great water conditions for 3 seasons. I expect to have a really good skwalla hatch this year.

The skwalla hatches on the bank not in the river. It crawls out and then takes several minutes to metamorphosis into an adult. Like a caterpillar. It pops out of its old shuck or skin with a new set of 4 wings and one thing on the brain…reproduction. after hatching into an adult the next 36 hrs are spent finding a mate.  Females mate and hang out for the day making an eggsac to oviposit back into the river. The males, once finished, die shortly after. Feeding mostly birds and small critters along the grass and bank of the river. After a few hrs or a whole day, the females return to the river to lay eggs.

Skwallas aren’t graceful and can’t fly worth a damn. The females flutter or crawl back to the river , wiggle, and flop around to release eggs. These eggs, smaller than a pin head, are wicked dense and sink to the bottom of the river. They slowly work their way into the substrate, like a plinko machine. They rest there and hatch into a little nymph and start the process over again.

When these females come back to lay eggs, that’s when shit gets silly. Skwallas are easy to see, which means they are easy to eat. They sitter and flop around, making noise and racket, which makes fish crush them. Fish are hungry getting ready for spawning, battling spring flows, and the general ravenous nature of critters after the winter hibernation.  We are so close. Already fishbare feeding on midges up on the surface. When a larger, more filling meal presents itself…oh man troot are gonna lose their little brains.

We are just waiting for bugs now. The water and fish are ready. Now, with all these sunnier warmer days here…the adult skwallas are almost here.  This week?  Maybe next….we are in it now, and it’s a fun place to be because when it happens and you’re out on the river….its something pretty special. You have to experience it to really understand it. But trout get stupid for these bugs. It just kicks off the season so nice.

Right now, it looks like this weekend, but probably the following and the first week of March for skwallas. No matter what, the next 2 to 4 weeks are going to be when shit turns on. I’ve been doing this a while…my trooty senses are tingling.

Right now here’s what dates are open that are going to fall during the skwalla hatch in my professional opinion. As we get into March the upper river will be the focus but until then we are working the lower river.

Open days during skwallas:

Feb 24-28th

March 1st-4th

March 6th-10th

Last week it will be thick:

Mach 14th-17th, and March 20th.

After that, it will shift to BWOS and March Browns.  Skwallas are short and sweet. And there are still a good number of dates open during what should be the peak of the hatch. Later dates in March will be focused on the upper river, so book accordingly if you’d rather fish the upper river.

$325 for 2 anglers is my Skwalla Special rate. I also have a clinic on Feb 19th that has 2 spots still open to learn how to fish this hatch and other spring techniques.

So reserve a day during the skwalla hatch and come chase fish on big dry flies in the spring!  No one has hooked a trout on the dry yet….you wanna be the first!? 

See ya riverside anglers.

Tamarack

Got to do some fishing.

Sunshine is here!

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.

McTwitchy Skwalla Dry Fly

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.

Lower river cutty!

Come on out for a date of fishing. They are booking up. Hope to see you all riverside this season in some form.

Tamarack

Skwallas on the Move

It’s February, and that means the stoneflies are on the move. I’ve been out a few days over the past 10 days, and fish have been eating Pat’s Stones.  When there are only a few food sources available, and the majority of the trout take the same fly.  It tells you a few things. But there are questions you’ve gotta ask yourself.

When hooking fish in the early season as we wait for the skwallas, the fish and the river will tell us when things are going to start. The first question I ask myself is, what depth are the fish taking the fly?  Then I ask how far out from the bank are we finding most of the fish?  The answer to those two questions gives anglers their baseline for when spring comes in terms of the trout season.

Currently, I am finding fish at 4 to 6 feet deep. Closer to the middle of the river as opposed to the bank. Fish taking Pat’s stones at that depth and distance tells me skwallas are starting to migrate towards the bank from their feeding areas and colonies under the large boulders and in the deeper water along the substrate.  Fish are starting to move and follow this food source. With only midges, sculpins, cased caddis, and stoneflies.  Fish are going for the big, easy to eat, and more abundant food source.  Which is the stonefly nymph right now. And will be for the next several weeks.

This means that skwallas will be hatching soon. Over the next 2 weeks, the majority of the skwalla nymphs will work slowly towards the bank. Feeding on anything they can as they prepare for adulthood and hatch along the banks and in the grasses along the rivers edge. They like 50 degree days. Skwallas don’t fly very much and mostly crawl and skitter along the bank and in the soft water and edges of the river. Trout lie in wait along the bank ready to chase down and hoover these big bugs. Trout metabolism is on the rise as all these trooty things begin aligning.   The hatch, the water temps, air temps, and fish all coming together to signify spring and get anglers into their waders and chasing trout.

Looking at the forecast. The flow predictions, snow pack levels, current water temps, and what I’ve seen so far riverside. Skwallas are about 3 maybe 4 weeks out. End of February we will see our first skwallas hatching on the Yakima. Last year’s hatch was bonkers. Just fing bonkers.

Trout wanna eat skwallas. They are delicious, don’t taste like caddis, and as a trouts body wakes up with the water temp, they gotta put something bigger and more abundant in the tank. Big spring flows are coming, the spawn, and as trout wake up, so do predators, so eating stoneflies is a must.  And fuck do trout eat skwallas. Hammer them, both as a nymph and a dry. They crush that shit hard. Like real hoooaaard! 

Over the next 3 weeks anglers who like to euro style nymph or slay big fish nymphing..it is the time. Those big swing eats on the trout spey….yep, it’s here. And by the end of February, trout will be on the bank slurping those big skwalla morsels off the surface.

I invite those of you who want to get better at trout spey and euro nymphing to come out.  Or those of you who are skilled and want some opportunity to get into some fish with a guide, ya…the next 3 weeks are where it’s at.  And those of you waiting for that bitchin’ dry fly game…by the end of February anglers. Skwalla Holla! 

February has openings. March is filling up. Get after it anglers. Skwalla special is running through March. See ya riverside.

Tamarack

First fish of the Season

Tis the new year. And I normally don’t fish in January. In the past 8 years, I can count on my fingers how many times I’ve fished the Yak in January. Over the past 18 years, even in my 20s, I didn’t go out much in the winter until around my birthday in February. I would chase steel back then, but those days are few and far. I don’t particularly care for fishing in the cold. It’s hard on the body, its cold, fish are sleepy, it’s cold. Places are hard to get to as well…and its cold.

After 2020 kicking my ass and still kinda smacking me around…and with shit not seeming to get that much better lately…I just can’t be inside anymore…get me. I need fish. They make life better. So does the river. It heals without really doing anything other than being there.

It has been rough for the past 2 years, mostly cooped up save for fishing and work. I got out a little but…did travel, but then didn’t. And mostly hunkered down this whole off season, it’s just time. I don’t care if it’s cold.  It is cold, though.

I went on foot a few times and had a few tugs.  But the interest wasn’t there on my end. The deep cold set in got into the teens, and then it dumped a butt ton of snow. Ugh. It wasn’t until I started to feel the weather turn, birds show up, the sun rising earlier each day. As an outdoorsy person, you get a feel or sense of things changing or shifting. That’s when my trooty senses start tingling. About a week ago. I could feel it start.

So Kirstyn and I dug out the boat, cleaned it up, warmed it up, and took it out fishing. She still floats, but she’s getting old. She might get retired this season. But the hog still has a lot of miles in her, just not guide miles. The last 7 seasons of heavy work have taken its toll. 

Floating the canyon in the winter is very pretty. But damnit it’s cold. Lol. The fish are podded up in deep, slow water. A few more are moving up and around each day. Getting ready. The spawn isn’t far off, and it has been a long frigid winter. Trout have to eat, and every tenth of a degree, the water warms a little more activity begins. Like the snow trickling as it melts at first, but as things change and move, it begins to gush, flood, and rage. Trout are no different.

Each day I’m on the water, I witness things come to life after lying dormant all winter. As most of us have done the past two winter.  Tis a thing to be able to watch the planet wake up. To see an ecosystem change and come to life. The bugs move and hatch, the fish respond. The river flows ebb higher and sink lower and cause the river to blush. Trout spawn, life begins again.  I watch the critters come out, otters playing and feasting, Salmon smolt beginning the next phase of their journey. The Elk move through the river and around the banks, deer (murderous creatures) are fing everywhere. The swallows return, the herons hunt, the beavers and bears around the banks in mornings. It’s amazing. Truly. To be able to see it, be a part of it, and share it with others for a living is something I cherish.

Fish were awake while we floated yesterday. I missed too many to admit. Like 7. But landed one of the prettier fish I’ve seen. I haven’t touched or seen a trout in months. Was nice to say hello again. Got some nice photos of me fishing for once. Thanks to the girlfriend.  It’s been a while since I’ve caught the first fish of the season in the boat. Or to share it with someone other than a client. Just a day of fishing before works starts with my partner. Not too bad.

The season is here, anglers. It’s warming up; fish are active time to fish or at least think about it. Its turds and worms, midges, streamers for a little bit, skwallas, and bwos are a few weeks out. Then it’s time to really get going!  Calendar is more full than it ever has been this early. Super stoked, and the trips and the busy schedule are much appreciated.  It gets tight for a full-time guide in the off-season!  Woo…Outta that one, and we float again! 

I invite you to come fish this season. It’s pretty awesome, and we could all use a good time. A few handshakes from troots always help the world be a little easier, time move a little differently, and the river equalizes and humbles us all. 

See ya riverside anglers.

Tamarack

Awww ya!

We are in the final throws of winter proper. Yes there is still a fuck ton of snow…everywhere amd there still gonna be more to come. But every inch of snow now is just icing on the snowpack cake. We are at 120% of average so bring it. Means big flows and big shouldered trout.

All this water waiting to melt has me wicked stoked. Itching to get out. Cranky being stuck here in the house. The off season can be over now. I’ve sat enough. The body is yearning to work the river. Walk thigh deep against the current. The feel of my arms burning against the flows as I hold the boat in position for a few more casts. Get it. I ain’t getting any younger.

I’m in better shape than I’ve been my whole life. And coming out of this off season I didn’t put on the guide 20 like I usually do. But I do feel my age every now and then. Makes the prep work the next several weeks all the more important. I’m so ready. I feel I’ve been pretty good with the hibernating…but I’m done now. It’s time to come out and get to work.

Its gonna be wading for a minute. Gotta get the boat cleaned out and wait for access points to be drivable. It’s not putting in that’s the issue….its getting that fat water logged hog outta the river over snow and ice….I need a raft. Hmmmm.

It shouldn’t be more than a week or so before the boat gets wet. It’s got 2 feet of snow in it still, so….that’ll take a minute. But the thing about fishing in January and February is that it’s typically only about 4 to 5 hrs anyway, and we don’t need a boat to get into fish. They are still podded up in large groups. Slowly, more and more wake up and start to move, feed, and get ready to spawn.

Right now, the season is shaping up very nicely. We’ve already got over 25 days booked for the whole season. I’ve lost track with the last few days. Which is awesome. We finished with 174 guided days last season, a huge make-up from the 70 whatever we did during covid. Another year like last or better, and we might be outta that hole 2020 dug.

A huge thank you to everyone for last season. Fucken rocked. And another one to everyone that has bought flies this winter and got on the calendar early. It’s saved my ass a few times. Shit is still tight out there for people. It’s not all hunky dorey, but at least there’s troot.

I’ve got lots of days open anglers. Gonna shoot for 200 this season. We shall see. LOL. I’m so looking forward to it. All this water, we’ve got a bunch of fish that are spawning this year which means big fish before and after. We will stay outta the upper river during the spawn this season. Gonna make that a thing now. After the trout getting 10 weeks off during the 2020 spawn and seeing the results…ya we gonna let them do their thing and leave em be. Plenty of trout that aren’t up there doing the nasty we can chase. Our population is already high and a big water and big spawn year is something that doesn’t always happen so it gets the angler and guide in me a little more jazzed about the season.

It’s gonna be one of those seasons that you’re not gonna want to miss. I can feel it and I’ve been doing this a hot minute. I’m back riverside next week anglers! Got one more day to save 15% for early booking. I’ve got anglers booked into the summer! Save some dough and come chase trout this season anglers. You’re invited. Trout said I could!

See ya riverside anglers,

Tamarack