I love fishing the Yakima River in the lower canyon in the fall. Except for an exploratory trip my first summer in the PNW to the upper river above Cle Elum all of fishing in the canyon has been after the ‘flip flop’. The ‘flip flop’ occurs after the first of September when the irrigation flows from the upper river reservoirs is shut down and irrigation water is now sourced from the Rimrock Reservoir down through the Tieton River to the lower Naches River and into the Yakima River near the city of Yakima. Irrigation is the life blood of the Yakima valley which produces the most amazing variety of fruit and vegetables (and lawns) you can imagine. Actually, the whole region around the Tri-Cities, WA, which receives an average of 7 inches of precipitation a year, depends on the water flowing in the Yakima, Snake, and might Columbia Rivers. From a fishing perspective the river in the canyon flows bank full all summer and since my fishing involves wading I leave this river to the boat fishermen until the flip flop and spend my fishing time on the Naches River and its beautiful cutthroat trout.
I think another reason I love this time of year on the Yakima is the best results come from fishing nymphs, which is my preferred fly fishing method. I have fished a few hatches in the early fall, such as the Mahogany Duns and Blue-Winged Olives (BWO). However, consistent results comes from learning how to get the right nymphs on the bottom and in the right places. Yesterday, was no different as we both used double-nymph rigs with a heavy stonefly above a tiny attractor pattern or BWO imitation. This rig required some split shot in the heavier currents.
This season has been a bit of a bust when measured by the number if fishing trips. As a result, my intension has been to push the season as far as my tolerance for the cold will allow. Yesterday may have been the last trip for a while. Nate Boggs and I realized after our last trip two weeks ago that it doesn’t make any sense to be on the river before noon. That water is cold and very little fish activity before then. So we hit the road about 9:45 AM yesterday arriving at our usual spot around 11:15. This trip I was hoping to hit the right layers to stay warm and was trying out a new pair of underwader pants from LL Bean. They aren’t much as a fashion statement but they turned out to be warm and comfortable under my waders. I managed to stay relatively warm though I need to figure out a solution for gloves that will keep my hands warm but won’t interfere with my dexterity. The wool gloves I have now only attract hooks to get stuck in them. By hiking up or down river when our feet got cold and stops back at the truck for hot coffee from my thermos we managed to stay comfortable.
We did manage to catch some nice rainbows with Nate catching the nicest fish of the day.
My results added further proof that I have discovered THE fall Yakima fly. It has proven itself over three seasons now and will be revealed in my next blog. Its only drawback being somewhat delicate has convinced me that I need to either order a gross of them (yes, they are store bought) or get to tying a box full of them.
So that was our trip and yesterday’s frozen fingers and toes are turning our attention to fly tying sessions over trips up to the canyon; for now at least. We’ll see what cabin fever does to that plan later this winter.