My fly fishing friends Jason D. and Todd B. invited me to float the upper Yakima river. Not being a real fan of the Yakima due to the crowds and the smaller fish, but having some cabin fever I decided to join. They knew that there would be many downed trees and it would involve portaging their 16′ Clackacraft drift boat over, around and through the woods to make it down the river. There ended up being many downed trees and dangerous obstacles that proved challenging but very rewarding, since we were able to get away from the crowds. The fly of the day was Pat’s Rubber Legged Stonefly.
The Upper Yakima Proper-Lake Easton to Cle Elum River Confluence
The river between Lake Easton and the Cle Elum River confluence flows at an average of about 350 CFS. Access is difficult in that it borders many private summer home developments. Floating certain stretches of this section is not recommended with a large raft or drift boat. From the dam down to the Washington State Dept. of Wildlife access just below the LDS Ranch as well as from the Bullfrog access to the Cle Elum River confluence there are many log jams and a few dead end braided channels that are definitely impassable with large rafts and drift boats. These two sections of this stretch could be navigated with smaller personal float boats, yet extreme caution is recommended and only intermediate to advanced boatman should attempt. The stretch between the State Wildlife access and the Bullfrog/ Iron Horse access is navigable by larger drift boats and rafts. The Upper Yakima is predominantly Rainbows with a small mixture of Cutthroat, and Brook Trout as well as a few Bull Trout. The best chance to see a black bear along the Yakima is either in this stretch or the Upper Canyon.
Generally, we use as heavy a tippet as possible for the technique we are utilizing. For example…when streamer fishing we will generally fish no lighter than 2x and often 0x depending on the clarity of the river; leaders will be about 7.5-9 feet in length. When Fishing #8 and bigger dry flies in the summer we never fish them on less the 3x and will generally use about a 7.5 foot leader. When fishing #18-20 Blue Wing Olives of the Fall we go down to 6x and use leaders in the 12 foot length
Winter tactics 34 to 42 degree waters
Streamers, Streamers, Streamers Streamer Techniques of Winter include fast and slow presentations.
(Spuddlers, Buggers, Clousers.)
Nymphing—Dry Droppers and Indicator style. Nymphing generally in slower deeper water yet with good midge hatches you will find trout in the shallow riffles.
(Stone Nymphs, Brassies, Copper Johns,Prince Nymphs)
Dry Fly fishing is fairly slow other than the Midge hatches which can be fairly prolific.
(Hatching Midge patterns, Adults #18-22)