Water temps, Hoot Owl UPDATE: 7/20
July 17, 2015
The Warm weekend did bump water temps in the canyon!
To preserve the fishing for the long term, and get in front of the warming temperature trend and hot weather forecast, Red's, and some other outfitters, are voluntarily shifting to morning only guide trips, aka "Hoot Owl" hours in the Yakima Canyon. We realize the impact of our guide team on this resource is significant, and that is why we are implementing this policy. Our staff handles a lot of fish, and we believe if we can restrict that handling to mornings only, and spread it across the upper river where temperatures are cooler, it will keep these trout healthier going into the hottest period of the year.
The MT Hoot Owl program has been in place for years. They clearly have had success with it, as fishing has remained strong despite the summertime drought conditions that some rivers there experience every year. Here's an article that mentions the parameters they've used to manage their blue ribbon streams:
Per these guidelines, we recommend that anglers carry a thermometer and reel up if you see water temps pushing 70 degrees in the canyon, or 65 degrees in the Upper Yakima (above Ringer due to the high concentration of Cutthroat trout). Our staff is here to help you plan floats, pick flies, and answer questions. Starting this week, we will open the shop at 6 am on Friday and Saturday to provide support for the earlier float times. We will also remind anglers of these guidelines, and notify everyone if the WDFW expands legal restrictions to include these waters this summer.
If you have a trip scheduled that becomes affected, we'll be in touch so don't worry. This will help the fish, the fishing, and we believe your future trips whether guided or on your own. It will give the trout a rest during the heat of the day, reduce mortality, and we expect the trout to be more aggressive. All good things. Right now the fishing is as good as we have ever seen it, so let's not jeopardize this. Get a room at the lodge, get up early, fish hard, and then grab a late lunch!
On some other streams, WDFW made an unprecedented move that we applaud. This did not include the Yakima River, but they did close and restrict fishing on many other rivers in Washington State. Read more about what streams are affected. We are very fortunate to have a great WDFW team and NOAA staff keeping an eye on these resources, as well as several other conservation groups. One thing we have noticed is that the Bureau of Recreation gauges do not appear to be accurate. Some are registering high marks, and others are reporting low marks. We have a network of guides and TU members that have been sharing temps daily. If you are uncertain, call us before your trip and we'll do our best to get you current detailed information to assist in your planning. Again, we can't stress enough to carry a thermometer, use it!
We'll continue to monitor conditions on the Yakima River and make any adjustments to our fishing program if necessary. In the meantime, here's some guidelines for CnR that many of you have memorized at this point:
How Does Water Temp Affect Trout?
The short version is that the warmer the water, the less dissolved oxygen is in the water which creates stress on the fish. This is especially important when they are hooked and put up a fight.
10 Tips for Taking Good Care of the Trout
First off, these are everyone's fish. Not just Red's or the guy or the gal that happened to catch it that day. That being said, we have a communal responsibility to take care of every single fish and pay it forward for each other. Our team is doing our part to leave these fish strong, healthy, and as vibrant as possible for your next visit.
- Play the fish quickly, you should NEVER have to revive a trout.
- Use heavy tippet to help decrease the landing time.
- Long Distance Release is ok! For real. Got a fish on that you prefer to release? Give 'em a bit of slack and let them free.
- Use one fly setups. This makes fish much more efficient to release since there is no tangling in the net.
- Keep 'em wet. Don't take them out of the water any more than necessary to remove a hook.
- Get a Ketchum Release Tool
- Know when to say when. Had a great day? Ease up or take the afternoon off and relax.
- SMASH your barbs down super flat. The hook should fall right out in the net most of the time.
- Fish the mornings versus the evenings whenever possible.
- Hero shots are zero shots. Don't hoist the trout out of the water during the summer. Let them swim, maybe get some pics of it laying in the water or hooked up and fighting it. Maybe a picture of you and your pal having a beer. I don't know. Make something up and take a picture. Just don't pick up a trout, squeeze it like a hot dog, and smile.