Mid-Winter Fly Fishing on the Yakima
When I moved to the Pacific Northwest, I seriously didn't think I'd be out fly fishing on January. If anything, I thought I'd be skiing some powder filled trees in the Cascades, but clearly I had no idea what my new home really had to offer: the ultimate year-round playground.
Before we get into this, I should probably mention that I worked at a fly fishing lodge in eastern Idaho for two summers with some of the best fly fishing guides in the world, fishing what is known as the North American mecca of fly fishing, the Henry's Fork of the Snake River. Between the Henry's Fork and the South Fork, with a couple trips on the Teton, I was certainly spoiled. If you ever get the chance to fish eastern Idaho rivers, I highly suggest it. Anyways, I don't know a lot about fly fishing, but I learned enough over two summers to know what to do and not to do. One key aspect of the "to-do" list is to bring all of your gear. Emphasis on ALL of your gear. More on that later...into the fishing.
I did exactly zero research into what hatches were going on, what river we were going to fish (the Yakima River), or even the weather until the night before we were going to hit the river. I genuinely wasn't planning on catching fish because I have absolutely no idea what fish eat in the winter, so I figured streamers would be the go to - a go big or go home mentality.
Jacob did all the research on the river access, sections we could wade, and spots to check out for future outings, I was simply along for the ride.
Getting ready with the river flowing in the background, steam rising from every breath we took, and that subtle chill from the frosty air was refreshing and relaxing. That quiet stillness of everything surrounding the river in the morning reminded me a lot of being in Idaho at overnight camp on the South Fork. Good memories for sure.
The water was not as warm as the South Fork in July...
But it did have a familiar feel with a mix of gravel bars, riffles, and runs along the banks.
As we got ready, I quickly realized that I had left my wading boots back in Seattle, which was certainly not my smartest move and certainly made things interesting. Didn't matter, I was going. I had an extra pair of shoes that I made do for the few hours we were out there; boots are not something I will forget next time. Water temp was ~38 degrees and air temp was ~35 degrees when we started working our way to the first hole. It was chilly.
Jacob casting into the bank...
...and patiently waiting for the strike.
The Yakima has great fish water right along a path that allows for easy access to some wadable spots, something I'm really not used to quite yet. We got settled into our first hole and after about ten or so minutes casting became extremely difficult. Neither of us really knew why but we suddenly realized that we have ice build up in the eyelets of our fly rods. I know I had never experienced, or even thought, of that before, so that was a really interesting factor to add a day already full of surprises.
We spent about 2 hours fishing three different spots, really until we couldn't feel our toes, then decided to head down stream and scout out a few more spots. There was one guide boat floating a section that seemed to have some good spots to fish, so we took note of where they were before moving on to check out some other spots.
No fish were caught on the day, but I don't think it really mattered. It was just great to get on the water and not have the constant reminder of responsibilities for a few hours, something I think all of us could use a little bit of right now.