I can see clearly now.. the river is low LOW LOW!

September 8, 2014

Ok now is the time. Get your last trout fishing trips planned or get ready for Steelhead season! All across the PNW anglers are getting their gear ready for the last 90 days of the fly fishing season. One of the most important items they are scrutinizing over.... is their CALENDAR! Get that thing out and set aside some time to go fishing.

Yakima River Fishing Report

The Yakima runs high during the summer, and drops FAST in September after irrigation demand downstream from here decreases. The river that was once too high to wade is now in perfect shape. You can even take a kid with you and not worry about having to save their life every 2 minutes.

September Fishing Strategies for the Yakima River

Fishing in September on the Yakima goes through a couple of cycles. The first 10 days or so are typically incredible dry fly fishing while the water is still high up against the grassy banks and brush but getting lower and easier for the fish to feed and move out away from their hiding spot and grab a fly. A lot of fish get caught in a hurry! The big enticing patterns like Chernobyl Ants and Hoppers and other delicious leggy treats are just too much for the trout to pass up.

As most of you loyal Powerhour readers know, the river is dropping fast this time of year. It is called ?flip flop?, the water goes from very high to low. As the water recedes away from the bank and there is no longer holding water ?tight to the salad? the fish move away from the shore and start feeding in more traditional zones like ledges, rockpiles, riffles, and seam lines (or foam lines). At this time the trout?s emphasis changes. Hoppers are no longer a major food source simply because the trout aren?t living tight to the bank. It doesn?t mean the trout won?t eat them, it just means they are not as likely to see them when they are living 20? from the shore. Chances are if a hopper falls in now, it will simply paddle back to the bank.

Does this mean dry fly fishing is over? Far from it. But after the first 2 weeks of September, there is a dry fly hangover that occurs. The trout have been pretty beat up on big dry flies in the low, clear, and very easy to read water. They quit eating the big dumb flies on 3X tippet. Hoppers are pretty much over, but there are still lots of Summer Stoneflies and October Caddis.

The smart angler makes a few adjustments. Light tippet, smaller flies, more natural flies, and longer drifts. Dry fly when its right? nymph when it is right. Streamers in the morning if you are out early and it feels ?cold?.

Dry Fly Tips:

Fish October Caddis patterns in the evening and don?t be afraid to twitch, skate, and move them around on the surface pretty aggressively. October Caddis migrate to the shore to hatch but skate and dance on the water to lay their eggs. There really is no circumstance that an October Caddis adult would be sitting still on the water? unless it was fake!

Be ready with a BWO emerger dry fly or parachute if the light is dull. The BWO hatch will start when the weather gets cold and cloudy. There will also be a variety of other small mayflies too joining the mix. Be ready to switch up from nymphs to a dry fly immediately upon hatch time. Usually about 1 pm or so.

The summer stonefly hatch is still rockin? but the trout can be pretty cunning against you patterns. One of our favorite flies and strategies to beat the trout this time of year is to trim down a #10 Yeager?s Tantrum and cut the wing nearly off. Get rid of all the pink and trim it down flat to match the extremely low profile of a male summer stonefly. Fish it on 4X with long drifts and an occasional twitch.

Also, don?t be afraid to try small terrestrials of any sort. Be creative and unique. Bees, ants, bettles, and Craneflies are abundant and the trout will be willing to eat things they have not been hooked on. Time to think outside the box!

Nymphing Tips:

This time of year the aquatic bugs that are active? are pretty small. Size 16-22. Fish them on light line under a small indicator. Use a yarn indicator that is trimmed down to about half size or a 1/2 ? thingamabobber. These little flies result in soft takes AND you need an indicator that will float the same pace as your flies. Surface currents are twice as fast as the bottom of the water column, combine this with a big buoyant indicator and the float will get way ahead of the fly resulting in massive drag. Use a smaller indicator THAT THE FLY CAN CONTROL and you will have more success.

A two fly setup composed of two small flies rather than a stone nymph and a dropper is very effective. Use a #20 on 6X Tippet and work water that you know there to be fish in detail. If you tangle a lot? use one fly. Not enough anglers fish with one fly. That is a guide?s secret believe it or not. Use a single fly to catch picky fish.

This Tungsten Beadhead Baetis Nymph is ?Go To? bug all fall. We don?t have it online yet but we will. Buy this bug as your #1 Baetis or BWO (same thing) nymph for big success! The tungsten allows a small fly to control the tippet and float naturally. This is soooo important! Can?t have that tippet driving the fly around, vice versa is required to fool the big boys.  Also, try the Tungsten Ready Beatis Nymph

A typical ?technical fall nymph setup? works about like this. On the top: Small indicator (yarn or ½? Thingamabobber), 4? of leader below the float, split shot (size varies), top fly (a #14 beadhead like a Holo Prince), and then 18? below that a #18-20 BWO nymph. DO NOT overlook Yarndicatators! Many of our top guides use Yarn Strike Indicators for technical small bug nymphing in the fall.  

Personally, I prefer the New Zealand Strike Indicator Tool for small fly nymph fishing.

Try the 1/2? Thingamabobber for your technical small fly work. It is a little guy but floats perfect with small nymphs and will show you the strikes you have been missing!

This is a great day time setup and should be fished over spots that you know there to be trout. In the evening however, switch to an October Caddis Pupae. Dead drift it if you are in a boat but if you are wading, try swinging it on tension.

Swinging Tips:

Some October Caddis swim quite well. If you are wade fishing, try casting a weighted October pupae out into the current, letting it sink, and then letting it swing on tension below you. The fish attack with a vengeance! You get to feel the strikes and it is a cool way to fish. Do this on a floating line or a 15? Type 3 Sink Tip. During a mayfly hatch you can swing soft hackles or even nymphs as well. This goes against everything we have taught you! Drag free, mend, drag free, feed line, more slack line. Yep, kind of weird. Try it though. Take off your indicator, position yourself in a medium paced riffle and cast out 90 degrees. Let your fly dead drift for a moment and then swing around below you. Hang on tight! The bites can be vicous. It is very common to snap fish off on the set. Use 5X Fluorocarbon for this presentation.

As the water gets cooler and the hatches slow down, the streamer fishing will pick up. We?ll write a good article on how to streamer fish in a few weeks or a month.

  1. Sunday was GREAT! 20+ fish, several 14", one over 16". Never had to nymph, fish hitting droppers and dry's. Topped the trip off with a great burger and beer at the lodge.
  2. Scott, that is EXACTLY the kind of day we want to hear about! Awesome.