So, what do you do on a hot Saturday afternoon, when you’re feeling maybe 70% of healthy, and know you just don’t have the energy to get out and actually fly fish?
You drive along a Blue Ribbon fly fishing river, take pictures, and essentially punish yourself for being too feeble to fish.
Okay…maybe not the best plan, but it is what I defaulted to, today. Might rethink this, the next time COVID comes around.
To be fair, the drive along the Yakima River followed a drive to/stop at the Worley Bugger Fly Co., that sits pretty close to the top of the Lower Canyon, for some needed tying supplies and a new/upgraded pair of soles for my Korkers. There’s always a decision point (extra few minutes for the view vs. interstate) when I pull out of their parking lot.
First thing, of course, was just how nice a day it turned out to be.
Clear skies, which is kind of the norm for this area, essentially all summer. Hot, but not quite the “desiccate you between opening your car door and your second foot hitting the ground” kind of heat that creeps into rotation around this time. In fact, I think we had >100°F at least 7 or 8 days of July, this year. Those were often ideal days to head up into the forests and mountains.
The Lower Canyon is an excellent stretch to fly fish, but has a very wide range of water flows to contend with. Today, it was running right around 4000cfs, where wading really isn’t a great option until it drops to at or below 1800cfs. In the press of spring melt, I’ve seen it running 9000+, if I recall correctly, so today’s flow was strong, but not excessive.
As you can see, the river has excellent reed and plant growth along it’s edges for quite a bit of the canyon. As the flow rate drops, it will also reveal that a large portion of this is actually well under-cut, too. Great news for fish holds, especially when (like today, and much of the warm season) there are lovely, juicy grasshoppers around. That combination makes for excellent drift boat fishing, with large hopper or stimulator flies, cast up as close to the vegetation as possible.
That island, when the flow drops sufficiently, has a great rocky sandbar that appears below it (eventually above, when the water gets quite low), most years. If you can cast with enough slack thrown in to compensate for the flow, you can park a personal pontoon boat, wade in either direction (both, if time allows), and cast to a fair section of the riverbank.
Also, a great spot for a bite, if you put in high enough up the river that you are already hungry.
The canyon has a few spots of which I would dearly love to get good quality pictures, but where there is often no easy access, except by water. Not having a great dry bag for my better camera, I find small paths, when I can. This section actually has another great island lunch spot, just around the edge of this rock face.
Another excellent feature of the vertical formations in this area are the prolific swallow nests that one can find. You might be able to pick up on some of them, in this pic, but mostly just as small, black openings. The actual nest is very close to the same color as the rock.
Continuing roughly South, you will eventually come to a dam, then the tailwater section of the canyon. Important to note that between the last formal boat ramp (Roza Recreation Area) and that dam is the only portion where motors can be used in the river. Everything else is kick, paddles, oars, or flailing arms… which there actually was a lot of, today. I had to be very careful to watch for tubers, paddle boarders, and various other “floaters” to keep them out of the pics.
Make note, however, that there is no accessible road on the far side, really anywhere in the canyon. Below the dam, any access on the near side is a good rappel down from the road, then crossing the “No Trespassing” railroad tracks, before you get to the water. Almost never see people in there…
… but it makes for good daydream material, in the meantime. And that tree, on the right…
…yeah, that one…I can imagine stopping under it for lunch, in that daydream.
Great visit…but definitely makes me want to get out and float it, fish it, and enjoy it more directly.