Yakima River Fishing Report

October 20, 2015

It was back to the Yak on Sunday for a day of guiding during the Seahawks game.  In addition to trying to catch fish on streamers, our challenge was getting the Hawks game to come in over AM Radio. One of the good things and bad things about living in Eastern Washington is the limited media.  We finally resorted to using the 710 ESPN app on our phones which worked pretty well.  We listened to the game while fishing.  Should have stuck with just fishing.

Where Are the Trout Hiding?

The unseasonably warm weather has the fish very spread out still.  I was absolutely shocked where we caught some of the trout.  Very shocked.  Typically by mid-October we have had some hard freezes and the trout push down into the deep pools and condense into pods.  This is very unusual to have such mild weather this late into the fall.  We are closing back in on "normal" later this week and after the first hard freeze (which we have not seen yet) a lot of the trout will move out of the shallow water and into the tanks.

First thing is first, look at this disgustingly fat Rainbow that a lady angler caught the other day.  I don't take too many trout pics anymore but I had to get a shot of this release. This fish is amazing, thanks to EVERYONE that hooked this fish over the past 6 years (estimated age) and released it quickly.  It is in perfect shape and ready for you to give it a go!  It ate a #16 Yellow Spot CDC Jighead.

I guided the Yakima on the past 2 Sundays before and after Klick trips, and had unbelievable streamer fishing for about 2 hours on one of the days.  This past Sunday during the Hawks game it was a bit slower, however it was sort of a learning day for the guys so we worked a lot on casting, swinging, and retrieving.  Don't be afraid to invest some time into simply figuring things out.  You'll forgo a few hookups in the short term, but the long term gain is so critical.

Anywho, we caught fish in as little as 12 inches of water all over the river.  Middle, edges, big seams, little seams etc.  I have actually been doing better mid-river in places that don't even look that good.  Anything moving faster than walking speed with some chop is fair game.  That is part of why I like streamer fishing right now with little itty bitty buggers.  Use a sinking tip or leader, combine it with a small bugger, and explore.  I even swung nymphs on sink tips one day and did pretty well.  Plus you get to feel 'em grab it.  

Streamer Setup

There are LOTS of ways to do this, but here is a basic list of options to get set up.
  • Sink tip line - I like the RIO In-Touch Streamer tip in the WF6/S6 - (sinks at a rate of 6" per second).,  There is nothing better than an integrated sink tip if you plan to do a lot of streamer fishing. 
  • Sinking Leaders - This is not the best solution, but it works!  Take your standard WF Floating line, and as long as it has a loop on the end you can "loop to loop" a sinking leader in place.  Buy a couple of these because they work universally on any rod weight and are simply a smart investment.  I like the RIO Spey Versi-leaders 10'.  They are pretty stiff thanks to the 24# core and turn over a big fly better than the "Trout" version.  If you don't have a loop, see this blog entry on tying your own loop:  
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  • Complete Streamer Shooting Head Kit - If you like to cast far and quick, this is a great system that gives you a ton of versatility.  You can buy this kit, and plug it into your single hand rod.  It will turn it into a distance rod big time.  It doesn't have the nice stability of an integrated system but is versatile and a ton of fun to cast.  

Tippet for Streamers:

I like 4' of RIO Fluroflex Plus 2X Tippet for my streamer fishing. On small buggers, 3X, on Soft Hackles and Nymphs (not exactly streamer fishing but it is the same "tight line" principle I like 4X).  Always the Plus.  Much stronger.  


You can use anything as long as its olive.  hehe.  Make sure that your base color is natural, Olive, Black, or Brown. White on a sunny day.  In the shallows use very small, light buggers.

Heavy:  Any of our awesome Sculpin Streamer Patterns will do.  Take your pick, get a few of each.  

Strategies for Streamer Fishing.

If you are wade fishing - Swing the flies only, on SINK TIPS.  Don't try to strip them in unless you are in a back eddy or very slow pool.   Here are some tips on swinging streamers.

If you are in a boat, while its moving cast across the river and strip retrieve them in.  While anchored, swing the fly on a tight line.  

Nymph Setup

Fly Suggestions:

CDC PT Jighead Tungsten Nymph (like the #14 as my top fly and my ONLY weight!)

I have also done a lot of nymph fishing this past week as well.  It is just smart guiding to mix it up. Nymph for a while, streamer fishing for a while, nymph for a while, streamer fish for a while. One two punch! 

In the past I have written a ton about light line nymph fishing, please review these blog entries if you are interested in learning how to nymph fish better in low, clear, water.  So much has already been said, but here are some recent tips.

  • Fish light.  If you snag up too much, that is bad bad bad.
  • 5X to the top fly... IF you run two flies use 6X to the bottom.  RIO Fluroflex Plus only for me.  
  • Fish it all.  If the water is broken, choppy, and moving faster than walking speed then fish it.  The river is very low and this has forced the fish into less than typical holding water.
  • Yarn indicators (take scissors and cut them down just big enough to support the drift) OR 1/4" Thingamabobbers.  Small, sensitive indicators are the best.  The New Zealand system is really where its at if you want to be totally dialed.  

How to Have MORE Light Line Nymphing Success
What are you Wading For?  (see the bottom half for some great tips!)

  1. Thanks for the intel Joe! Been missing the reports lately. By the way, I think I know the Lady Angler in the photos!
  2. As always, like the detailed river reports. Great help for the novice! What is great are the fly assortment links displaying which flies you are referring to. Rick in Spokane
  3. Excellent detail, I am on my way back to Redmond from Spokane leaving soon and stopping on the way.