The Yakima river is waiting for you this weekend!
The weather has warmed up here in Ellensburg. The sun’s out, the snow is melting, and the river is in fishable shape with less ice in the water. But this might not last long, as there’s snow in the forecast for next week. If you are able to travel this weekend, there’s a a great opportunity to hit the water and avoid angling pressure.
What to fish and where:
Skwala Stoneflies will start moving in the river soon. Fish will be keying in on stoneflies, so make sure to have a few Pat’s Stones (#6-12) in your box. Brown, black, coffee, black/green and orange/black are all great colors to have for different “flavors” of Pat’s. We probably won’t see many adults for a few more weeks, so focus most of your Skwala time subsurface.
Fish will still be hitting San Juan and Squirmy Worms (#6-12) in pink, red and red/pink. These will be a great searching pattern to run in tandem with a Pat’s Stonefly. Small midge patterns like WD40s (#14-20) in brown, olive and black will also serve as great flies to run behind a larger nymph. A Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear (#10-16) will imitate the March Browns that are also soon to hatch, so bring a few of those to try.
Focus your fishing on drop-offs and areas where fast and slow water meet. The fish will be taking flies lightly in these cooler temps, so try using light indicators. There needs to be some depth for the fish to hold right now, so look for areas where you can’t see the bottom.
Stripping or swinging streamers will also be productive for big fish looking to get a big meal. Sparkle Minnows (#6-12) in gold and olive have been producing. Dolly Llamas (#4-8) in olive and white will also do the trick. Look for structure that fish will hide behind and the tailouts of runs. Try different stripping speeds until you find what the fish are liking for that day.
Rocky ford creek is always open!
Rocky Ford Creek never freezes in the winter because of its consistent spring creek temperatures. Fish will eat just as readily in January as they will in July. If you can access the bank (snow boots and even snowshoes can help with this), fishing a scud (#14-18) in orange, olive or pink can bring some great results. Red beadhead chironomids (#14-22) in black, olive and brown can also put fish in the net this time of year. Egg patterns may also pick up a few fish right now. Set these subsurface patterns under an indicator and be careful to avoid slapping the water. Actively feeding fish can be put down if a sloppy cast lands on their head.
If the sun comes out and the wind dies down, look for midges and small mayflies to come out. Parachute Adams (#14-22) in white, brown and olive will imitate these well. A long leader will help you reach these fish. Look for steady risers before spending time fishing dries, as a fish that rises only every few minutes can be very frustrating.
Be careful as the snow begins to melt! The muddy banks can be quite slick and dangerous. Some holes may be covered with snow so make sure to stick to main trails to avoid twisting an ankle.