Yakima River Fishing Report
August 4, 2014
The water temperatures are climbing and the Caddis tend to lighten up and the nocturnal summer stonefly, while still present, is not peaking like it was in the middle of July either. This transition actually helps our mid-day fishing because the fish tend to forage sporadically throughout the day instead of simply gorging on the evening's offerings. I guided till dark last night and it was good fishing, but it wasn't the insanity of mid July. Some of the nights we had over the last few weeks were as good of dry fly fishing as you will see on any river anywhere. It was really quite incredible. Over the next couple weeks the opportunities mid-day using smaller terrestrial oriented dry flies on light line will increase.
Think about when terrestrials are most active. Hoppers, ants, bees, beetles, and the cadre of other weird bugs that we can't even identify are very active during the heat of the day. The trout need a lot food this time of year and they will be ready to help these insects meet their maker.
Tips for Mid to Late Summer Fishing:
- Take it one fish at a time. A few weeks ago you could float down river smacking big leggy chernobyls against the bank on heavy line without much care for the exact seamline it was in. You would catch so many fish that it was easy to "blindly prospect". That has all changed. Now you will need to search with your eyes for smaller, more specific seamline and every cast should have a plan accompanying it.
- Pick spots for your fly to land/fish. These trout want to know the entire story of how that hopper wound up in the water. Make clean casts with good leader turnover, a 7.5' 4X is ideal for boat fishing the Yakima River right now. The fish might not tackle it right upon impact, but it will float several feet then get eaten. The impact of the fly on the water makes a difference.
- Learn to Reach Cast. Period. If you want to have a quality catching experience to go with your quality fishing experience learn this technique. Practice in your backyard before the trip.
- Connect your drifts. It isn't good enough to throw a perfect cast drift, miss the next two or three, and then get another perfect drift. YOU NEED CONSISTENCY. Don't let perfect get in the way of being good. Make it a point to count how many consecutive "good" presentations you get. When 9 out of 10 are good enough then we are getting somewhere. You don't always have to thread the needle, but you need to be in the game every single cast.
- Stop your rod tip high. This is the marker of an experienced hopper fisherman from a dirft boat. I can spot an Ace caster from 400 yards based on where they stop their forward cast. A high stopping point builds instant slack line into the drift upon delivery (and then lowering the rod as the fly drifts downstream). It also nurtures a much tighter loop and lower/faster delivery of the fly.
- Get in a groove. Don't fight the brush, don't loose flies, don't try to fish beyond your skill set. This will just drive you and your guide crazy. If you are an intermediate skill level, play conservative. Fish the fly 12 - 18" out off the bank. You will land a few within 6" of the bank and that's great but play smart. Great casters don't make many mistakes. If you are loosing more than about 6 dry flies in a float that is WAY too many. 2-3 flies per angler, per day is about right. If you are beyond that you are out of control.
- Only mend for a reason. Between reach casting, casting downstream, feeding line, and choosing the right targets, you shouldn't need to mend that much. I am fortunate to guide some of the best dry fly anglers I have ever seen and it is interesting to watch them fish. They make good decisions on when NOT to mend. Also, choosing the right targets helps as well. Look for spots where the water flows into/under the bank. This will draw your fly ahead of the leader/line resulting in a "no mend" situation.
- Back the fly down. The butt end of the fly downstream, tippet upstream, on a drag free drift is called "backing it down" you will get more strikes and the strike to hook-up ratio is double when you back the fly down the seam.
- Fish more. Plain and simple. If you want to be a good hopper fisherman then come out more than once or twice a year. Dedicate some time and get your reps in!
- 8'6" rods really help accuracy at close range. On our river, the casts are short, very fast tempo and under grass/brush much of the time. An 8'6" fast action 4-5 weight is IDEAL. My personal favorite is the 8'6" 5 weight Sage ONE. I can pick apart the bank with lightning fast precision. The speed of which you can pick the fly, shoot it back in, and dissect the shoreline is amazing.