There are trout…and then there are wild trout. I have been on a good run of trips the past week or so and haven’t had time to blog. The Yakima River is in great shape and fishing fantastically from top to bottom. I have been in the Lower River Canyon or the LC as I like to call it, and have had some great evenings rolling big fish with caddis dries, and hooking into big runners with nymph rigs, both on fun floats with guide friends and with clients.
I bring up Wild Trout because I had a set of clients this past weekend that made me realize yet again how amazing this river can truly be. I was on a double half day. I had finished my morning 5 hour float and had a great time with a father, son that slayed some wicked awesome trout on the nymph. I had a 2 hour break, had some lunch, hung out in the shop, and then my evening clients showed up. I was warned that the clients wanted a guide that knew the river well, was high energy, and wanted to fish till it was too dark. I am that guide.
These clients were the best of the best when it comes to fly anglers. 30 plus years experience fly fishing, semi retired, fish all the time together, fish all over the west, Montana, BC, Oregon, California, the Bitteroot, Rock Creek, Elk River in Fernie, you name it they have fished it. Take guides all over, own drift boats, row and fish with friends on a weekly basis. But never on the Yakima. So we hit it.
We were in the LC so it was all about that Caddis. But, the weather system had changed and we had a rain storm move in from the southwest. This made the Caddis not as big a factor so we were nymphing shallow with small attractor nymphs and we were doing pretty well. The first thing they noticed was how fast the fish were. In my head I was saying, “You should fish the upper Yak dudes.” But the fish from top to bottom are wicked hot right now and this cold cold water from our good winter has these fish turbo charged and feisty.
We hooked into some good sized trout and immediately they were impressed with how hard fighting they were. Amazed really, that 15 inches of Wild Yakima Rainbow was able to run and jump in the heavier currents and play anglers like they knew all the tricks. Smart, wily, trout. When we hooked into the larger fish they gave us a real show. Running back upriver, tail-walking, jumping then running under the boat, tangling lines or as my clients referred to it, “Murphed Up” as in Murphy’s Law. We switched to dries when the rain stopped and my clients were again taken aback by how quick the trout were and how fast anglers reaction time had to be in order to get a good hook set on the larger trout tucked 4 inches from the bank. The trout required tight casts with perfect presentation and when both anglers are casting at perfect 45 degree anglers down stream while the boat is hovering slow and steady it makes the whole day smooth and groovy. Then the front really moved in and the rain returned. Twas 6 pm and it was raining. Like raining dudes. Now I know that fish still gotta eat in the rain. So we switched up, got a little soggy, and chased trout till dark with nymphs. Again the fish were cooperative albeit slightly less with the down pour. We hovered into Pac Man rock and did two laps with no love. We had just lost the largest fish of the day in an epic Murphed up moment. Huge 20 incher smacks the purple prince, runs upstream, jumps…over the back seat anglers line and runs down stream. Now we have a big trout tangled in two anglers lines running and jumping all over the damn place. Absolutely hilarious and awesome. We of course lost the fish but not before getting several good looks at it while it gave us the equivalent of a wild trout middle finger.
Again my clients were impressed with the ferocity of our trout and how much fight they have in them. The evening was settling in and we came up on some campers just before the take out. Four lady anglers all dressed up in pink and purple rain jackets, waders and boots, fly rods in hands fishing for troots in the rain, hardcore, making all the other guides and anglers that passed by to get out of the weather look like chumps. We talked for a bit, they were having a pretty good day I commented that they were they most hardcore anglers I had met this season camping in the rain, fishing till dark:30, making us all look bad. We rolled on down river, almost too dark to see and called it a night.
I walked into the bar at the lodge, soaking wet, last off the river, beard soggy, sore, and jacked from wicked day of fishing with clients. The bartender told me I looked like I needed a drink and I accepted. I got a few stares from the warm and cozy customers, and heard a fellow guide ask over the crowd if I had just got off. I replied yes, and everyone asked how it was. My clients came up and their smiles said it all.
We spent the evening talking about how amazed they were with the caliber of trout the Yakima River has to offer. These trout make you want to come back and fish for them again and again because they are constantly testing you as an angler. These trout are wild, and they act like it. When anglers and trout of the same caliber meet it is a beautiful thing. Hearing these very experienced, inspiring anglers praise and compliment our trout; as well as my guiding, boat skills, and knowledge of how to target and play these fish was a great ending to a long and rewarding day on the river.
I invite you to come experience these wild fish and the place they call home.
Hope to see you riverside.