April Update.... Look but don't touch!

April 6, 2015

This can be some of the best fishing of the year for big trout on the Yakima River, and many other Rainbow trout streams across the country.  The water temps are up a bit which drives metabolism and a lot of the big trout will be either pre-spawn or post-spawn which can make them super hungry to either stock pile energy or recover from the thrashing their bodies take during the spawning process.  The bigger the fish, the more these fish typically put into the spawn.  For many big fish they will spawn themselves to death, giving up their bodies for the next generation.  For a segment of these big fish, there is a teetering point as to whether or not they survive.  Being caught by a fisherman can certainly tip these big Rainbows the wrong way!  How we handle these situations has a big impact on the fishery.

Because our river is open to fish during the spawning season, anglers are encouraged to be extra cautious on the river. Things like letting your boat anchor drag even a little bit are big no no's.  Handling trout, glory shots, and overplaying fish are also very bad ideas.  If you want your rivers to fish better, have bigger fish, better dry fly fishing, and more aggressive trout help the cause and go as easy on the trout as possible. Here are a few tips on photos and ideas.

A few days ago an angler caught one of the best rainbows of his life, it was awesome. He even did it while wade fishing at lunch time while Steve, the other guide in this party, was grillin' Brats!  Supercool.  He practically had a bratwurst in one hand and a trophy trout on the line in the other.

Grillin' and Catchin'
Here they guys are having lunch, note that the angler that caught the fish a couple minutes later is the one stuffing his face haha!

He played the fish pretty aggressively thanks to the guide's encouragement, and we netted the fish and realizing that this fish was likely in some stage of the spawn we made sure to get him some great photos of the fight, a quick closeup in the net, and release the fish immediately without a grab, squeeze, or taking it out of the water.  The faster that fish recovers the better fishing we'll have.  Maybe another angler will catch that same fish again soon, it will be stronger, more vibrant, and more aggressive than if we had hoisted it high for the lens.
Stretching the Graphite
Don't be afraid to "play to win" good tippet and a good drag system that has a smooth pickup will let you push it a bit.  That is a deep bend.  

Good Net Job!
Having a good boat net, or a good net in general is critical to taking good care of these trout.  If you don't currently have a net... get a net!

Now I'm not saying everyone that takes a fish out of the water for a picture is a bad guy, or going on some self righteous rant about how cool we are for taking good care of the trout.  That is annoying and you don't need to hear that from us.  An occasional photo, done right, is ok.  Just take some of this to heart and maybe figure out how to document these special critters in ways that are low impact.  We'll all enjoy better fishing and it is a good way to pay-it-forward to the next angler.  We genuinely want the anglers following us down river to have the best shots possible at mature trout for years to come.  Our crew catches A LOT of trout and by adopting these practices we feel like we are improving the fishery for you.
Keep 'em Wet!
Here is a quick shot of a nice big trout that will have a successful recovery, this trout is ready for you to come 'n get it!  We did our best to keep it healthy, strong, and if it is still in pre-spawn or spawn it will have its best shot at maximum productivity.  Between these four pictures the angler will have a great series of memories!

  1. Good advice. I don't tend to carry a net except while in a boat. Most times the best way to handle a fish, is not to handle it at all. Just play that sucker aggressively like you mention using lots of side pressure and changing the angle on the fish several times during a fight to keep it off balance. Once I have leader on the rod, I will simply hook the leader with my finger and run it down to the fly and unhook. This is a great method that keeps the fishes slime layer in tact (something even a rubber net can affect). If the fight has taken it out of the fish, just cradle it in your hand while still in the water and let the current revive. They will go when they are ready. BTW that is a dandy 'bow that fella caught. Good on him.
  2. Awesome fish, Joe!
  3. That is good advice Steve, if hooks are "true barbless" (smashed to a slick finish which I know yours are), they are easy to unhook that way and really helps keep 'em strong so they can get right back to feeding after release.