Is it Short-sleeves or rain jacket weather in the Kittitas Valley?
The Yakima River took a bump in flows on Friday due to rain in the headwaters and warm air temperatures. Prior to the blow-out, there were fish looking up to Skwala Stoneflies, March Browns and BWOs. The river above the Teanaway still has good clarity and looks to have stabilized now. The lower river should be fishing again early this week when the sediment settles. The weather for the rest of the week calls for air temperatures in the mid-to-high 60s and sunshine. But don’t forget to pack an extra rain jacket in case a cell moves through. Oh the joys of spring runoff!
We’re starting to see some good hatches
The Skwala Stoneflies have been hatching for the last month and we’re still seeing them flying around and fish feeding on them. To imitate this hatch, fly patterns like Olive Chubby Chernobyls (#8-12), Bulletheads in Olive or Yellow (#8-12) and Olive Stimulators (#8-12) can produce well when fished near structure and in soft water on the bank. Low-profile flies can be more effective later in the season as fish become accustomed to seeing large, high-floating patterns. Adding subtle twitches to the fly can also trigger a bite.
March Browns are also popping off midday when the air and water temperatures are warm enough. They can be quite plentiful in the air and on the water, but you may not see fish eating them right away in likely looking areas. When you find a good eddy or soft edge near the bank, stop and take your time to watch the water. These fish aren’t necessarily feeding constantly, but they’re consistent and hold in one location. Watch for their rise and make your cast spot-on, as they often won’t move far from their holding area. Good patterns to use for this are PT Cripples (#10-14), Parachute and Hackle Adams (#10-14).
Caddis are also making their debut, so keep a few Elk Hair Caddis (#12-18) in your box late in the afternoons. Emerger and cripple patterns like CDC Caddis (#12-18) in brown or gray can work well to imitate both caddis and March Browns when they are hatching simultaneously.
The hatches will only get better from here on out. Once the March Browns and Skwalas begin to disappear, we’ll be into caddis season and should expect great hatches throughout the summer. If you’re a dry fly angler, it’s time to start getting your arm warmed up!
Nymphing remains strong in the mornings and when the hatch dies down
That heading pretty much says it. We’ve been starting the day nymphing a Pat’s (#8-12) in coffee trailed by either a Worm (#10-16) or small nymph like a Hare’s Ear (#12-16) or Pheasant Tail (#12-16). Fish seem to have really been enjoying Red Squirmitos (#14-16) lately fished in slow water on the inside of corners when the clarity is good. If you’re fishing in dirty water, look to put your flies close to the bank where the fish are getting out of the way of sediment washing downstream and flows that tire them out.
When the insects start to hatch, we switch over to dries. The timing may be different day-to-day depending on the weather and temperatures. Expect the March Browns and Skwalas to start popping off between noon and 1 p.m. When the hatch dies, switch back to your nymphs until they start to hatch again. Sometimes the fish will respond to your nymphs better after the hatch because of how the adults have stirred them up and got them feeding.
It’s always good to keep a nymph rod and a dry rod set up. In case the insects start hatching, you want to have a dry rod ready to capitalize on the peak of the hatch. Keep your nymph rod put together because that hatch could quit as quickly as it started.
Where to look for weather Conditions and water flows
For current information on how the river is flowing, look at the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation site for locations throughout the river. The Northwest River Forecast Center and NOAA also has updated information on river flows, and provides a prediction on how the river is going to act in the next several days. KEEP IN MIND that these predictions are just predictions and shouldn’t be counted upon for making final fishing decisions.
The National Weather Service and NOAA is a great place to find accurate weather information, with the ability to click on the map in the exact location you are looking to fish. Again, the forecast is always subject to change.