Early Spring Tips and Fishing Updates - Yakima River Report

January 28, 2019

Mild conditions have made for some very productive winter fishing over these past several weeks.  It's actually a GREAT time for wade fisherman to consider layering up with a couple of pairs of wool socks or some cozy bootfoot waders and taking advantage of the low water of the late winter/early spring river flows.  This is one of the few times of the year that anglers can wade into the Yakima Canyon without fear of being washed away!  From late May through August our river runs very swift which makes it one of the country's best drift boat fisheries.... but one of the most challenging to wade.

Right now the fish are still pooled up in many of the slower and deeper runs which offers the angler an opp to fish for an hour or two in one location without being forced to move.

Nymph Fishing Strategies for Late Winter

wading the yakima canyon near reds fly shop"The low water in the late winter is perfect for slowly working through the deeper, slower runs. Wading can be an advantage."

This time of year the fish aren't "snapping up" everything that floats by. Drifts must be very drag free, near the bottom, and smaller flies typically yeild the greatest production.  I personally like yarn indicators and long drifts.  I will Euro nymph in the spring, summer, and fall, but this time of year when the fish are holding in the big long runs it can be tough to present without an indicator. The Yakima Caynyon is a big river and can require feeding line and long drifts.

Tackle Suggestions for Late Winter

  • Yarn Indicators - New Zealand Wool Indicator Kit or Loon Tip Toppers work well. Just make sure to use some aquel and an indicator comb is a lifesaver.  Strikes can be very soft and the yarn exposes trout attempting to pick your pocket!  Try the small size Tip Toppers first, only use the large if necessary.  
  • Fluorcarbon Tippet - Essential.  Try using 5X and 6X for your small nymphs if at all possible. It's about the flexiblity not the vision of the trout.  4X is the largest I'll use this time of year.
  • Light line nymph rods.  I like using a 10' 2 weight or a 3 weight this time of year. Most of your hookups are happening on #16 and smaller flies. The light tip of these rods makes big difference. Not to mention the mending and line feeding ability of these light lines.  I use my Euro Nymph Rods as my light indicator rods.  

Fly Suggestions for Late Winter

Streamer Strategies for Late Winter

steve joyce trout spey'"Trout spey can be effective, just make sure to fish slowly with small flies picking apart the big runs and slower pools."

As the water gets over 40 degrees, think early March, the fish will begin to get more aggressive for large streamers as their competitive nature of the spawn kicks in. Right now, be thinking small streamers fished slow in the big pools. You can use single hand or trout spey, but a good sink tip line that sinks at least 4 ips is best.  The Streamer Kit we put together using the Wulff Ambush is a great kit.  Fish this setup with the fastest sinking polyleader and about 5' of tippet. Get that fly down deep and fish it slow and low.  

Streamers for Late Winter/Early Spring

  • Trout Spey Assortment of Streamers
  • Bouface (olive and black are both excellent).  This has the action of a big streamer in a small size.  
  • The Thing - Use this once the water warms up. The biggest trout seem to like Crawfish in the spring time especially when the water gets just a hint of color and snowmelt happens. 
  • Scupzilla -  Never leave home without a dozen of these.  Small when its cold, big once it warms up.  Make sure to use black on cloudy days. 
  • Stalcup's Sculpin (ok to fish in the cold, just move it slowly)
  • Hibernator - Trout Spey Top Choice. It just seems to fish well on the swing. 
  • Micro Zonker - Trout Spey Top Choice.  Easy to cast, fish it slow. Works great in big holes fished slow near the bottom.