Yakima River Fly List and Fishing Report

March 19, 2016

Great conditions right now to fish the Yakima with a guide, on foot, or in your own boat.  Anyone that wants the best available information, Like or Bookmark our Facebook Page.  Its much easier to update you "real time" from the river that way.

I have been on the water several days this past week and here are my observations.  Two noteworthy items.  The boat launch at Ringer Road is still closed and looks like it will be shut down indefinitely until the county and WDFW can find a solution here.  In addition, the Bighorn Access (private property) that is 3 miles downstream is still closed as well.  This means that the highest point in the Canyon that you can launch a full sized drift boat is Mile Marker 20.  

Here is a shot taken from the river of the north leg of Ringer Road, you can see the logs piled over and the road washed out at this log jam.  The east of the loop is passable in a vehicle, but the road is closed to all access.

Farmlands - Fishing pretty tough overall until very late in the day and it is picking up. More Whitefish are biting than trout and for the best success you'll want to stop, wade, and nymph fairly deep.  5-6' below the indicator seems to be picking up the most fish.  We do run shuttles from Irene Rhinehart Park to Mile Marker 20, and if you don't plan to come into Red's before you float simply download this waiver and leave it in your rig.  Pay cash or by phone with a credit card.  

Don't let the recently tough fishing deter you from fishing this area however, its very pretty, a few less folks, and offers the most freedom to wade. Especially for personal watercraft anglers are guys with their own drift boats that don't feel like rowing the entire time.  

Be aware that there are LOTS of sweepers and log jams throughout this section and you should be a very capable oarsmen if you plan to float this stretch.

  Here is one of the beauties we caught this past week.  Thanks to everyone in year's past that released this fish mostly unharmed.  A lot of folks ask, "have these trout been caught before?"  Take a closer look at this trout's Maxilla on its jaw.  This web helps it capture more food, especially small food.  Fortunately this trout is very strong and healthy, but this folks is why you need to pinch your barbs down FLAT and handle fish gently.  Keep 'em wet, don't squeeze 'em, don't drop 'em, and that will insure that they grow bigger, faster, and there are more of them.  

Lower Canyon - The fishing for me this past week has been best in the Lower Canyon and the dry fly fishing finally cranked up a notch on Thursday and we put some dandies in the boat on Skwalas.  Be patient and be content with just a few nice fish to the boat or dry fly and you'll have a great day.  Maybe you'll get more, but keep your expectations in check and you'll likely exceed them.  The water temperatures are only getting to a high of about 43.5 degrees right now.  Its still cold!  

The Skwala Stonefly has made his appearance and didn't see his own shadow. Not sure what that means but it was really sunny.  

Upper Yakima - We have only fished above Thorpe a few times recently and although we caught some very nice fish, several at +/- 19" and heavy, the bite overall seems to be lagging behind the Lower Canyon for numbers.  As the dry fly fishing peaks and fades down here we'll likely migrate upstream and mix Skwalas and March Browns.

Tips and Bugs:

  • Work slowly, especially in the morning.  Your float distance with a boat shouldn't be more than 9 miles for a full day.  Keep it short, work slow, and give yourself enough time to find the seamlines. Although it might feel like late spring or summer.... the water isn't much over 40 most of the day.
  • Stick the Landing with your dry flies.  Good anglers fishing Skwala Dry Flies just "get it". After years of doing this I get the pleasure of watching some of the best anglers I know from the rower's seat of my boat.  Many have been fishing the Yakima River longer than I have.  The ol' boys just get it.  They can cast extremely well and they stick that bug where it needs to go without moving it.  Fact is you're fishing in a lot of wide slick water and the fish can see the fly from the second it lands.  DON'T MESS WITH IT!  It might be 5-10 seconds before they float up and eat so just stick the landing, let it fish, and be patient.

  • Deep nymph while wading or stationary.  If you have a hole you like, that is when you can deepen up your indicator rig and get down there and "dig 'em out".  Fishing deep all the time isn't all that effective, but keep a second rod ready or be willing to change depths.  there are a lot of fish holding at 5' deep right now.
  • Delicate casts with dry flies.  Just because its a big fly doesn't mean the fish will treat it like a grasshopper.  Fish your #8 Skwala more like you would a #18 BWO.
  • Back Eddies on Cloudy Days.  I  haven't been doing well in the back eddies the past few days, but this time of year on the cloudy days or in any kind of low pressure I have found the trout to sit suspended in the back eddies.  It seems if you find one in a back eddy, there will be a lot more there due to conditions.

Fly List for Spring on the Yakima River

My best Skwala Nymph is a #10 Jimmy Legs aka Restless Stone.  Picture above stuck in a trout's mouth.  

Skwala Dry Flies:

Brown Wing Bitteroot Skwala (best on sunny days when you can see the fly well)
White Wing Bitteroot Skwala  (best when you are having a tough time seeing your fly)
Solitude's Bullethead Swkala - Maybe the fishiest pattern, but the grey wing can be tough to see in flat light.  It absolutely crushes fish though.  
Longtail Skwala - Floats like a cork.
Satch Skwala - See the video on Youtube for proof.   

Upcoming Mayfly Hatches

  1. Excellent web site and well done. will be passing through your area in a week then spend a few days a week later during my travels and hope to fish some. your info. on the web site is very helpful. I will be stopping by your shop. thanks.
  2. Thanks Bob, we'll see you then and plan to fish a bit. There is lots of public access within minutes of our shop.