The conditions on the Yakima River are what we call “cool” not cold right now. The extended forecast is calling for nightime lows in the 20′s and daytime highs in the low 40′s which is just right. We wish we had that 50 degree weather back that hit the Yakima Canyon a week ago but we’ll settle for this! There is no iceflow and the shelf ice is limited to whats left in the glacier down around Big Pines and Roza which isn’t much. You can kinda sorta take out at Big Pines, aka Slab, now.
The steady weather pattern should have the fish on a daily diet of small assorted nymphs during the afternoon hours when the bugs get active. The big trout will and can be tempted by sculpin patterns in the morning and evening when the nymphing gets slow. Streamer fishing is fun but remember that nymphing should still remain your staple. Get two rods if you can and have one rigged up with each. Even if you are wade fishing it makes better use of time to string up two sticks and switch rods rather than complete setups or spools.
We have also had some very positive reports on the Methow River as well thanks to Mr. Weather being so generous as of late. The fish are pretty well spread out through the system so find your favorite rock to stand on and get after it. Don’t be afraid to swing flies either! We have had some of our customers that have had surprising success swinging flies on their switch rods this winter despite cold temps!
Here is a picture of a good friend and customer that scored with his new Sage METHOD 7119-4 Switch Rod that he recently got from Red’s Fly Shop! He stuck to swinging flies and has had a few great days up there. The Sage METHOD 7119-4 paired up with a Rio Switch Chucker fly line and a 5.6 ips 10′ Versileader is a great combo for the Methow River.
Swinging Flies for Methow River Steelhead:
A Few Nymphs for the Methow River Steelhead:
WDFW NEWS RELEASE
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091
December 6, 2013
Contact: Contact: Jeff Korth, (Ephrata), (509) 754-4624, ext. 224
Travis Maitland, (Wenatchee), (509) 665-3337
Fishing for steelhead to close Dec. 8 on three rivers in the Upper Columbia Basin
OLYMPIA – Steelhead fisheries will close one hour after sunset on Dec. 8 on the upper Columbia River from Rock Island Dam to Wells Dam and on the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers.
Fishing for whitefish will also close on the Wenatchee River one hour after sunset on Dec. 8.
The closures will not, however, affect steelhead and whitefish fishing seasons on the Okanogan River, Similkameen River, Methow River, and mainstem Columbia River from Wells Dam upstream to Chief Joseph Dam. Those fisheries will remain open until further notice under previously published rules.
Jeff Korth, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the closures are necessary to keep impacts on wild steelhead within limits established under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
“This year’s run is smaller than in recent years and contains a relatively high proportion of wild steelhead,” Korth said. “Because of that, we saw an increase in the rate of encounters with natural-origin fish in some fishing areas.”
Although anglers must release any wild, unmarked steelhead they intercept in area fisheries, some of those fish do not survive and are counted toward ESA impact limits.
The federal permit authorizing the steelhead fisheries sets a maximum allowable mortality of natural-origin steelhead to accommodate variations in run strength and angling effort on specific waters. WDFW closely monitors the fisheries and enforces fishing rules to protect wild steelhead.
The primary reason the upper Columbia steelhead fisheries are permitted is to remove excess hatchery fish from spawning grounds, said Korth, noting that those fisheries provide popular recreational fishing opportunities and economic benefits for rural communities throughout the region.
WDFW fisheries managers are analyzing fishery impacts to date, and will produce a steelhead run update next month, Korth said. Some areas could be reopened at a later date for additional fishing opportunities, and anglers should keep a close eye on the WDFW website for these possibilities.
Specific waters that will close to fishing for steelhead an hour after sunset Dec.8 include:
Areas closing to whitefish angling an hour after sunset Dec. 8 include:
Areas that remain open to fishing for hatchery steelhead include:
When these fisheries are open, anglers must retain any legal hatchery steelhead, which can be identified by a clipped adipose fin, they catch until they reach their daily limit of two fish. Once anglers have retained two fish, they must stop fishing for steelhead.
Night closure and selective gear rules remain in effect for all areas where steelhead seasons remain open. However, bait is allowed on the mainstem Columbia River.
All anglers must possess a valid Washington fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in these fisheries. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons in the Columbia River system, including fishery enforcement and monitoring. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million per year to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.
For more information, see the fishing rule change on WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=1381
Hey folks, fishing is always fun but it is even better when the sky is blue and the weather is nice. The forecast right now has about 10 days of clear blue sky in Eastern Washington. River conditions on ALL streams are absolutely ideal with no rain in the forecast to stir it up. Whether you have just a single day to drive over and fish the Yakima for trout, or an overnight to the Wenatchee or Methow (which recently opened for Steelhead on Wednesday!), or a few days on the Klickitat GET OUT HERE! If you don’t plan for a day right now you won’t make it.
On the Yakima, we’re seeing some BWO’s mid-day with a few rising fish in the afternoon but they are pretty spooky so approach with caution. Fish small flies, like a ZEBRA MIDGE haha, this is a great fly. Simple with a good hook gape.
On the Wenatchee and Methow – mix up the fishing. Swing flies early and late and fish Stone fly nymphs and eggs mid-day. While the river is only open for hatchery steelhead officially, you will find some very nice trout as an ancillary catch. Big Cuttbows are busy eating eggs behind the spawning Chinook up there!
The Klickitat is full of Kings right now. Some are getting a bit dark but the “Fall Upriver Brights” are still in great shape and eating a swung fly pretty well! We are fairly well booked up but we have a few dates still open at our place down here:
Klickitat River Overnight Dates Available:
October 22/23rd (6 anglers)
October 30th – November 2nd (6 anglers)
November 9 – 12th (4 anglers)
Good fishing yesterday on the Methow River, we put a guide on for the opener and the guests were able to land several Steelhead (both hatchery and wild fish) along with a medley of Cutthroat and other species. The river is in perfect shape with enough water to use a raft or a pontoon boat.
Some basic tips/strategies for the Methow:
1. Swing on light tips or a floating line and long leader early in the morning and late at night. Here is a good fly for skating dry flies: October Caddis Skating Fly for Steelhead
2. Swing an unweighted fly on a sink tip (Type 3 is about right or a 5′ MOW tip) . Here is a great choice for mid day swing fishing. Hoh Bo Spey Fly For Steelhead
3. Nymph fish mid day when the fish are in “holding” water. Meaning deep pools, deep riffles with choppy surface currents, and anything that is deep green colored and moving walking speed. Here is a nymph that we do well on up there on the Methow: Morrish WMD Black Stonefly Nymph for Steelhead
4. Fish 1X Fluorocarbon for swinging flies (the water is very clear!), fish 2X for your top nymph, and 3X for your dropper or egg pattern. Rio Flourocarbon Tippet. Buy the Fluoroflex PLUS for Steelhead! Totally worth it.
5. Focus on CLEAN drifts and swings. Don’t mend too much, don’t hang up on bottom too much. This water is clear and the pools are wide open so the fish will see the fly coming from a distance.
There is lots of lodging in the Methow Valley but we find the Lake Pateros Motor Inn to be super convenient, affordable, and clean. Super value, eat at the Mexican Restaurant in Pateros. It is awesome, don’t be afraid to let them know we sent ya! http://lakepaterosmotorinn.com/
Toll Free 866-444-1985
115 S Lake Shore Dr
Pateros, WA 98846
Switch rods have become mighty popular over the past several years and for good reason, they are one heck of a club to have in the bag! Like most anglers, I delved into Switch Rod casting with the idea that this rod would be able to “do it all” for steelhead and salmon. By “do it all” I meant that it would be my indicator rod and my spey rod all wrapped into one creature. I started out using my switch rod about 5 years ago and wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. For me it made one heck of an indicator rod while wade fishing, this was the original selling point and it helped produce a lot of fish for me. At the time, I wasn’t sure whether I would be in love with casting and fishing one of these types of rods so I fished the 7110-4 T.F.O. Deer Creek Switch which is an affordable rod and a killer value. It worked for me quite well and it taught me that “yes” I did love casting these compact little spey rods… a lot. Since that time I have upgraded to the Sage 7116-4 as it is a fabulous rod, 6″ longer and a faster action. For me though, a lot has changed as far as my fishing and enjoyment goes. I absolutely love casting these rods with shooting head lines and spend 95% of my time swinging flies and rarely indicator fishing anymore. I simply love the casting and fishing with a tight line. Nothing against nymphs, I guide over them A LOT but I just love the challenge of casting 11′ rods a long ways across the river and trying to catch fish on the swing. It isn’t easy to learn and that is probably why I love the challenge and take a few less fish in the process. My guided guests are still able to use this same rod with a different line (Rio Switch Line) and a strike indicator and I am sad to say that they have caught 20 times more steelhead on my switch rods than I personally have! I guide a lot more than I fish. Oh well, the life of a guide is a vicarious one. Since evolving from using the rod primarily to indicator fishing to swinging, the raw performance of the rod has begun to matter. When you are lobbing strike indicators and loose roll cast loops, the potential energy of the rod is not much of an issue. As you start to fish swinging flies, sink tips, weighted flies, and push these rods to their performance brink – the quality of the rod becomes a factor. As I was simply learning and investigating how much I might enjoy or use a switch rod this wasn’t much of an issue, now that nearly all my steelhead fishing is with these rods I want to have every possible advantage to make the most of every cast and moment on the water. If you plan to swing flies most of the time with your switch rod or shoot great distances of line, then at least investigate purchasing a high energy rod like the Sage ONE or Sage TCX. Both are great choices and I will compare/contrast these along with 7 versus 8 weight. When you are in tough spots, wading deep, restricted back casts, weighted flies, a bit of wind, broad runs, and heavy sink tips you will thank me for planting this seed!
Since our fly shop is ON a river we have the luxury of hosting regular classes on casting switch rods. Check out our switch rod class calendar online to see a list of upcoming classes and activities at Red’s Fly Shop and Canyon River Ranch Lodge.
This article highlights the Sage TCX and Sage ONE as high performance switch rods but I wanted to add a few links and notes on other related rods. These are significantly less $$ so it is not a fair comparison but I have cast these rods quite a bit and can offer some input here. All GREAT rods and perfect rods to see whether a switch rod is right for you without busting your bank account. If you already know you LOVE using switch rods then the Sage ONE and TCX should be a consideration.
TFO Deer Creek Switch Rod – Deeper loading, softer action. Great for all around use, easy to cast but does not throw for the raw line speed and tight loops like the Sage ONE and TCX.
Echo SR Switch Rod – A bit snappier, at 10’10″ it makes the best “single hand casting switch rod” but lacks the heavy lifting ability and raw line speed for big flies and heavy sink tips especially wading in deeper water. (It is 11″ shorter than the TCX)
Redington Prospector Switch Rod – A slightly quicker and lighter rod than the TFO Deer Creek and has surprising power for a lightweight rod. A great rod, but in a lower performance category when compared to the ONE and TCX. This rod is a sleeper, be sure to test it before you decide what to buy.
I absolutely immersed myself in casting the Sage TCX 8119-4 Switch Rod and the Sage 7116-4 Switch Rod this past week on the Methow River in Central Washington with a couple of buddies. We threw big flies, small flies, heavy sink tips, light sink tips, and did it all spey swinging (no indicators). It was a great test for a few days and I compared both rods but also learned a lot more about casting and how these animals fish. Fly fishing is a constant lesson. We hooked both steelhead and a handful of trout in the process, not a bad testing ground to size these rods up and experiment with all the various casts and situations you might face. For those that haven’t been to the Methow, it is a perfect sized river for spey swinging with switch rods. The flows were about 550 cfs and the river lends itself to both short casts where you are throwing 20′ on high insides and behind boulders sometimes. You even catch a lot of trout so it is fun to have a rod that is built well for fishing either species. On the wide runs the casters ability to launch big line is tested but a lot of our fishing was simple 30′ casts. Some runs allowed us to throw overhand and shoot line in a like a traditional cast (which is super handy when skating dry flies!), and some runs were tough with steep banks behind us and almost no backcast. We had it all to deal with. We had to wade deep sometimes and make tough casts. Any switch rod will work when you are ankle deep with ample backcast. It gets much more difficult when there is a steep bank behind you, the water is thigh deep, and you have 10′ of T-11 sink tip hanging out there! Since both of these rods are relatively long (11’6″ and 11’9″) we were able to use a traditional length Skagit line. Both rods were loaded up with the same shooting head. We used an Airflo Skagit Compact Intermediate as we were fishing sink tips and we like the way this line swings under the surface. The Rio Skagit iFlight is also a great line, we just happened to have Airflo available in the right size for both rods. The Airflo Skagit Compact Intermediate is a shooting head that sinks at an intermediate rate and lets the fly swing through deep and natural in a very smooth fashioned. This is a great line for the angler that will be swinging sinking tips exclusively.
This is the rod that was somewhat new to me. Although I had cast it a bit this is the one that I was most excited about. One of our Klickitat guides has this rod and loves it but I wasn’t sold yet. Currently, I fish the 7116-4 Sage ONE but was very curious about how this rod would perform in comparison. First off, I realize this is not apples to apples as we were fishing an 8 weight next to a 7 weight but it also gave us some incite as to how a 7 versus an 8 weight plays ball when you fish them hard side by side for a couple of days. I personally hadn’t cast an 8 weight switch a whole lot and was very curious. For the way I tend to personally fish and what I hope to accomplish with a switch rod (as it applies to steelhead) I liked fishing the 8119-4 TCX better on this trip. We were throwing pretty good sized flies, the Hoh-Bo Spey and one called a Lady GaGa which is a fairly dense tube fly. The TCX 8119-4 picked these flies up and rifled them across the river with any sink tip we tied on. It did some heavy lifting in the tough spots that was pretty impressive. There were a few times wading deep with 10′ of T-11 that the TCX was able to get the cast when the Sage ONE 7116-4 was bogged down and wouldn’t get the extra ooomph to present a tight line. This didn’t happen in every spot but there were a few times it did. For this past weekends fishing which was exclusively two-handed casting with sink tips the TCX was the better rod. It throws extremely tight loops and is perfect for small to mid-sized rivers. Being an 8 weight it honestly didn’t feel like overkill at all, it even retained a great deal of feel when playing some trout. I certainly would not want to cast this rod overhand though for an extended trip. There were some instances that we had to fish it overhand in some small slots and it was not a great overhand rod. The bottom line is that for the spey fisherman that wants a compact rod for brushy backdrops, is a heavy lifter for big flies, winter steelhead, Kings, and doesn’t plans to do indicator fish 25% of the time or less.
This is such a great rod. It doesn’t have the punch of the Sage TCX 8119-4 Switch Rod but is definitely a better overhand rod and fishes great with lighter lines. It is very indicator friendly and overhand casts better than the TCX. The casting experience with the Sage ONE is sort of hard to describe until you have tried it. It is almost strange. You load up for a cast, make your shot, and all of sudden the line shoots out 60′ or so and you absolutely can’t believe that much energy came out of something so light and so effortlessly. The “fun” factor of the Sage ONE is very high!
The Sage ONE 7116-4 did get bogged down a bit in the deeper water with bigger flies. For those of you that have not spey cast much or at all, the deeper water you wade into the tougher the casting as the fly and line don’t jump out of the water and aerialize like they do when you are wading shallow. This is one of the toughest situations a steelheader faces. This is where a true spey rod makes things easy.
We did battle the tough spots with the 7116-4 Sage ONE by using Rio Slickshooter 50 lb. Running Line and this made shooting line much easier in the tough spots and certainly helped off-set some of the performance advantages the TCX held over the ONE. It was a good learning experience to fish both a traditional vinyl running line up against a mono Slickshooter running line. Both have their pros and cons but I will say this – if your rod is undergunned for the distance/fly size/and overall challenges that you are up against the Slickshooter certainly helps. For instance, if you are trying to fish you switch rod on bigger water than you should – the Slickshooter will give you an extra 15′ or so on your cast, and probably help the fly line/leader/fly lay out better in the tough spots making a better presentation. The downsides of the Slickshooter are that it does coil a bit and it is harder to grip with cold hands or glove. The upsides – better distances in the tough spots and it allows a light rod to play on bigger water. We like the 50 – 35 pound for most applications, it is really affordable so don’t be afraid to try both.
Hello all, just a short synopsis of what is happening around here in Central Washington. The Yakima from the Teanaway River downstream is pretty dirty right now and it will likely be at least Monday before the Canyon is looking good again. We cancelled our Pontoon Boat rowing class scheduled for tomorrow and rescheduled it for April 19th, which just happens to be the day before the Red’s Rendezvous! Perfect.
The Methow River fished well these past few days with the exception of yesterday, but it is closing on Sunday so if you haven’t made plans yet you will miss it. Fish way upriver near Twisp as the river is rising and there is a lot of junk in the water downstream.
The Wenatchee is blown, might be at least a week before it is back in shape.
On another note. We are bringing the International Fly Film Festival to the Red’s Rendezvous IV event! Tickets will go on sale through our website sometime on Sunday so stay tuned! This is a very cool film series, runs about 1:40 and a must see.
Methow River Fishing Report
The season has opened strong for Methow River Steelhead anglers! A couple of the guys from the shop headed up yesterday to do some pre-fishing for upcoming guided trips this next week. They wade fished and had a great day!
The river is borderline for floating right now so if you have a raft or pontoon it is debatable as to whether or not you would want to use. The guys didn’t take a water temperature but it didn’t matter because the fish were aggressive. The steelhead ate several nymphs that were coming up on the swing and at the end of the day the guys even rose a steelhead on a skating dry fly! We won’t contend that skaters or even floating line fishing would be productive for you but you never know unless you try. Even to just boil a steelhead is very exciting.
The guys had their best success on smallish nymphs and the number one bug was a Copper Swan (in various colors). The guys hooked quite a few fish. Stefan is in the shop today if you want some real-time advice. 509.933.2300
We have guides available ready to swing flies or nymph, Day Trips with our staff are $495 per day and for some affordable lodging go with the Lake Pateros Motor Inn. Give us a call at 509.933.2300 to RSVP.
The Lake Pateros Motor Inn is super convenient as it is located within walking distance of coffee, dinner, breakfast, and a few minutes from the Methow River. There are fancier places but for a steelhead trip this one is about perfect. Call them at 1-866-444-1985. Our guides swing flies, nymph, float, or wade depending on what our anglers prefer and the conditions suggest.
Our staff has had success this time of year all the way from the uppermost boundary to the mouth, whatever water looks good…. is good. Plenty of space.
The Wenatchee and Methow Rivers are currently closed, but we are crossing our fingers for an opening sometime in mid February. Be ready to roll! The WDFW will announce these openings on very short notice when conditions are right. These fish have been unpressured for months now and will be willing to bite. Spey fisherman should use heavy sink tips, like a 10′ of T-8 or T-11 and the nymph fisherman should use small flies and focus on tailouts.
If the water stays low and clear all spring then make sure to use very small flies as the fish get “trouty” this time of year.
You can check the WDFW Emergency Freshwater Fishing Rule Changes on their website.
Small but mighty. The Purple and Red Holo Prince Nymph in size 12 is a killer on the Wenatchee and Methow. It has a Tungsten Bead and fishes like a champ.
Quick note, the Yakima River fished GREAT this past week with the above average temperatures and humid conditions. We had our best success on nymph fished in the long deep slots on extremely drag free presentations. The exact fly did not seem to matter as much as the quality of the drift (as is usually the case), but we caught fish equally on a size 18/20 Silver Beadhead Lightning Bug, #16 Holo Prince, and an Amber Clinger Nymph (#16/14).
The river came up hard today and got a bit messy in the Canyon, but if you plan to fish over Thanksgiving weekend it looks good. The river will drop and the fish will be hungry after this freshet of rain.
Try fishing with a San Juan Worm after this bump in the flows. This happened at the beginning of the month and we did VERY well on a pink/red San Juan worm along with streamers fished on a sink tip.
Great fishing on the Klickitat this past week with multiple fish hooked most every day, a couple on the swing and most on the nymph. It has been a strong November thanks to the big rain that we had at the end of October. Currently the Klickitat is OUT of shape right now and it will be touch and go for the last 9 days of the season with more rain expected NOAA predicts that it will be in fishable range later this weekend and then again about the 27th but last time the river recovered much faster than expected. Call the Klickitat Canyon Market for a clarity report anytime, they are great and are open from 6:30 am – 9 pm at 509.369.4400.
The Wenatchee is back out again for a few days it swelled up again and prior to that was kicking out about a fish a day to the spey anglers we have had on the river up there. It should be back in good shape next week and we anticipate a strong early December thanks to another good burst of rain which is bringing in fish as we speak!
The Methow is high”er” but fishable especially if you want to do a float trip. The fishing has been puzzling, it has been “ok” on the Methow which has a positive effect in that there are A LOT less anglers than have historically fished this stream. A fish or two a day is par for the course, for anyone that loves fly fishing for steelhead this is great! For a lot of folks that have experienced big time fish counts in years past this isn’t quite enough to get them to banzai far from home and hit the water. So if you are willing to go you just might have all your favorite runs to yourself. At flows around 900 cfs consider doing a lot more swinging. You will efficiently cover the wide runs. 900 cfs doesn’t sound like a lot but some of the tailouts on the Methow are really wide and tough to wade and cover with a wimpy single handed rod and a bobber. Trust me, I’ve been there. Big rocks and deep ledges = wet elbows from mending and casting double nymph rigs. Standing back in the knee deep stuff and slinging sink tips might be a more enjoyable and effective fishing style right now.
Today we will introduce you to a tool that we use to help us predict whether or not the rivers we guide will be fishy. It is called the “Northwest River Forecast Center”. Essentially it is a computer model that takes into account current flow, historical flow characteristics for that particular station, weather patterns, temperature, snow melt, etc.
The computer model attempts to predict the upcoming river flow trend. Sometimes it is hardly more accurate than a Magic 8 Ball from Walmart but usually the rises and drops are pretty well aligned with the actual flows. It is very helpful, but we try not to take too much merit in it. For instance, the Klickitat River is dropping WAY faster than what they predicted right now. Of course the USGS model relies on the weather man to be accurate which isn’t always the case. When the south Cascades didn’t get the rain they predicted the model simply corrected and updated itself.
Here is a link to the homepage, check it out and click a few stations.
The Yakima came back into surprisingly good shape yesterday! We guided it upriver and hooked some very nice trout the last two days, our guide Mike Canady is never afraid to give it a shot and it paid off! You just never know until you try. Today we plan to be back in the lower Canyon. The river is still above normal flow but is running very clear throughout the entire river system.
Closed until June
It looks like it might possibly fish tomorrow afternoon in the upper sections, but Sunday the 4th it is GAME ON! It is a steep drainage pattern, first to blow but first to recover.
You can take a look at the graph from this morning on top this page, it is very high! We like to have down around 2,000 cfs or lower but it should run very clear from 3,000 cfs on down. This is big water and ok for breaking out the big spey sticks. Pretty large to cut apart with a nymph or single hand rod. Look for mid-month to be VERY good as this high water no doubt invited in a lot of fish from the Columbia that may have otherwise waited.
This little guy is still on the rise. It is can fish at nearly any volume but steelhead anglers on foot would love to see it under 600 cfs. This is the time you want your spey rod. Big water, tougher wading, and aggressive fish. Swing flies when the water is high to cover more ground. 48 hours after it starts dropping it will be fishing.