The Big Dries are here!
We are finally getting into productive dry fly fishing here on the Yakima River. The Skwala Stoneflies are making their debut in the warm temperatures, as are the big fish coming up to feed on the surface. After throwing clunky nymph setups all winter, tossing dry flies is a welcome break from staring down an orange indicator in the cold. The river is also in good shape right now, with fairly stable flows.
the dry fly fishing
The dry fly game seems to be starting between 1 and 4 p.m. depending on the air/water temperatures, cloud cover and the “W” word (wind). Our guide staff has been mainly fishing dries after lunch and even before we see any naturals in the air. We also haven’t been seeing many rises, but that hasn’t stopped fish from taking to a well-placed fly!
Look for places tight to the bank where the current slows and has deep enough water to hold fish. As insects float by these areas, fish will shoot out from cover and quickly take it as it comes into view. Fish are hanging on the upstream side of submerged boulders and logs. Bubble lines and back eddies will also hold fish looking to pick off insects stuck in the foam. These fish are pretty serious about taking dries right now and we’ve experienced some explosive, heart-stopping takes. Be prepared for a hard fight and acrobatics as you work the fish to the boat!
All of our guides have our own favorite patterns to throw right now that imitate Skwalas. Those include:
Bulletheads (#8-12) in brown and olive. Smaller profiles are helping to trick wise fish.
Stimulators (#8-12) in olive and chartreuse. Fish single or as a trailer to a larger fly. Also w/ or w/o rubber legs for motion.
Chubby Chernobyls (#8-12) in olive and black. A great point fly when fishing two dries and a good dry-dropper fly for fishing a PT behind.
It’s best to come with a handful of different patterns to see what the fish are responding to on any given day. We should start to see this hatch peak in the next couple weeks. BWOs and March Browns are also starting to make an appearance, but it doesn’t seem that any fish are keying in on these insects yet.
When the water is cold in the mornings, our focus has been on fishing subsurface with our usual Yakima River fare. The water is a bit faster, deeper and dirtier than it was a couple weeks ago and fish are beginning to make their way towards summer holding areas. We are now fishing in places that were above water in mid-March!
A Pat’s Stonefly (#8-12) in coffee has been putting a few fish in the net fished DEEP along the bottom. Larger, darker patterns help to stand out against a murky background. Pheasant Tails (#12-16) and Sparkle San Juan Worms (#8) in pink have also served well as trailing flies behind a larger stonefly. BWO nymphs have also accounted for a few fish as they begin to work their way through the water column.
Look for fish to be holding on transitions from shallow to deep water and along submerged structure. They seem to be liking slow currents at the tailouts of pools and on inside corners. Get your flies deep and fish them through the most likely places to hold fish.
CHeck those gauges before heading out
The river is pretty stable right now on a slow rise. Water clarity is around 18” and the fish seem to be having no problem finding flies. Be sure to check out the river flows and predictions at the Northwest River Forecast Center and NOOA. REMEMBER! The predictions aren’t always accurate, but can help give you an idea of what to expect. The forecast says we may be getting some rain later this week, causing more runoff and snowmelt and bumping flows just a bit. We’ll try to keep you updated as best as we can on our social media of current flows and water clarity.