Yakima River Fishing Report

May 24, 2015

What a week!  I got back from Christmas Island early Wednesday morning, stumbled into the fly shop for most of the day, picked the kids up from school, did a banzai run to Isaak's Ranch on Thursday, and am back on the Yakima this weekend.  If there was ever such thing as "too much fishing" I am closing in on it hahah!  That is one phrase that I don't believe has ever been said on this blog.  I promise to never say those words again.  We all know that it is impossible to fish too much.
Just a note on this fish.  It turned out to be an absolutely amazing Rainbow and although it would have been cool to pick it up, hold it out for the camera (ridiculously long armed of course gripping it with one hand), and put it on the blog in an attempt to look cool - we instead decided to let it go immediately.  Consider this paying it forward... maybe to you if you're lucky enough to catch this trout.  I hope you all catch this trout, every one of you and everyone fights it like a boss and lets it go immediately.  It could live to be 35 years old and weigh 24 pounds.  Ok, maybe not quite that long or big but you get it.  Better care = bigger trout and more of them.   Sorry for the rant but I fish this river a lot and want to see these trout handled with care so that we all have great trout fishing.  Not just the guides.  

The Fishing Report

The Yakima is very low, we haven't seen flows like this perhaps ever.  If you like to wade fish then get out here!!!!! It has never been better for anglers that want to wade the Yakima River Canyon. I haven't looked at the historical data, but I do recall that my first few guide season it was below normal so this isn't too out of the ordinary.  Since 2006 we have had great water in this watershed so this is new territory for many guides and anglers.

I remember learning a lot my first few guide seasons about many things, but distinctly remember that we had low water and the fish moved around to adjust for it.  The classic pools and big bouldery banks get fished out in a hurry and you have to make some adjustments in your strategy.  I was floating downstream today hitting some funky little holes that are hard to see and I could still remember finding them.  I don't know how these things stick in my brain.  I can't even remember my syblings birthdays, but I can remember every fishy little spot and even the day I stumbled upon it.  Funny how the mind works. 

Today I found some fish in typical buckets and seamlines but I found a lot of fish in the center channel hiding behind boulders that you normally wouldn't think of fishing this time of year.  We did a lot of fishing in the MIDDLE of the Yakima River today.  Weird right?  Almost every other boat I saw was hitting the banks and fishing all the normal stuff that we would target once it gets hot.  The problem is that we are at about 1500 cfs of river flow right now and we are often up over 3,000 cfs.  At higher flows the fish like the bank, but right now they are hiding much more mid-channel in big fast moving water.  I fished the heavy currents and had a great day.  It isn't the sexiest fishing in the world.  Craig Chittenden, one of our top guides, and I worked together today in a mult-boat trip and we both honed in on the same program.  Fish the banks when the heavy flow pushes into it, pull back nearly mid-river when the current softens up.  

My setup early in the day was a single #16 Tungsten Jighead Yellow Spot Nymph (think PMD nymph) 4' under a Yarndicator with a small piece of split shot.  We put about 10-11 fish before lunch in the net.  There were a couple of Whitefish mixed in there that we let the kids, net, unhook, and release. Those are good practice fish for them as they aren't sensitive to handling the way Rainbow Trout are.  Is this kid stoked or what?!  Over a whitefish?  You bet he is!

We let the kids net and mix it up with the Whitefish!  They had a good time netting these and if they are out of the water for a moment that is ok.  

After lunch, to mix it up, I ran a single Pat's Stonefly Nymph in Tan/Brown 4' below and indicator and had equal success.  All said we put about 20 fish in the net today fish big water seamlines under Yarndicators.  That is just my strategy and I'm happy to share it. There are LOTS of ways to catch fish but this worked for me so give it a go.  I saw Steve Joyce today fishing streamers and saw them hook a great fish doing that.  It was in heavy current against the shoreline.  You can fish the banks, just follow the flow!

The Caddis hatch is pretty much dead mid-day, but the last half hour of the day its rockin'.  If you care to stay out that late you'll get some shots with dry flies.  The PMD hatch is going pretty well mid day and we saw small fish rising on them. We had a couple of young ones in the boat today so keeping the fishing fast and furious was a priority. When you have a young boy and a young girl whose job it is to net fish... you had better get some fish!

A Good Tip for Dry Flies

Parachute PMD
If you see a fish feeding, watch it eat a few times.  If the rise is slow and relaxed then that trout is likely eating PMD's.  If it is quick and splashy, Caddis.  Also, know that the trout will usually prefer PMD's to Caddis because they take off slower and are more vulnerable.  

Golden Stones Inbound

There will be a variety of Golden Stoneflies hitting the river over the next several weeks. On the Yakima River we have a big one that is about a #8, so get flies in the 6,8,10 size to be sure to match it.  On the Yakima River above Ellensburg, keep your eyes peeled for Yellow Sally Stoneflies to start popping up very soon.  This is an overlooked bug and can provide dry fly action mid-day when nothing else seems to be working on top.

Bullethead Golden Stonefly Dry Fly

Silvey's Chubby Sally

  1. Always look forward to your blog post with great information. I especially like the idea of not only naming a few flies used, but it's great to have an image that goes along with them. Very helpful! Looking forward to my FIRST fishing experience on the Yakima this Friday; plus, my FIRST ever guides trip!! Thanks! Rick in Spokane
  2. Great blog, and I fully enjoy the YouTube videos as well. Plan to fish the Yakima next Thursday, hit the shop for some flies and wade my way back along several spots I gave scouted out using google satellite maps. I will be my first time on the Yak and I am from Seattle. Thanks again! Lou