Yakima River in Late March

In my part of the state, the Yakima River is the only one that is fishable all year, per the regulations (or so I’m told). It’s a beautiful, powerful, and well populated body of water, which is quite a nice resource.

Thanks in part to so much of it also being exclusively Catch and Release (for trout, at least) it is Washington State’s only Blue Ribbon trout river.

Great news, especially as there are really good stretches within about 45 minutes of home!

Today started out with an excellent sunrise, although slightly hazy.

By noon, it had hit almost 70 degrees, with just enough wispy cloud cover to make the sun muted, and we had very little wind. As far as weather, it seemed perfect for fly fishing.

The river had reached a very nice 50 degrees, putting it in a good place for dry flies, too.

The one drawback? The streamflow was around 2800cfs. Most guides in the area say anything above 1800cfs is too much to be safely waded.


So…there is one spot that I know, where there is a broad shallow section, hidden behind trees from the view of passing drivers.

Worth a try… right?

Accessing the river in this stretch requires carefully navigating a steep and rocky slope, fallen trees, and thick undergrowth (including thorns!).

Sadly, my waders didn’t get to the river assaulted, as the immediate sensation of cold moisture on my right calf clearly indicated, only thirty seconds into the wading.

Oh, well. 3 year old waders, and I have not had to patch them, yet…

Normally, when the water level is into the more widely accepted flow range for wading, there are rocks and even the occasion rocky sandbar visible, as one looks upstream from here. On this occasion, water to mid-calf seemed the low end, with some sections hitting my upper thighs.

Fishing through, I noted a distinct sparsity of activity. Even the fairly common instances of younger trout (exuberant and dumb, they will often go after flies that are a significant portion of their own body size!) seemed to be absent.

Still, I love the chance to just be in nature, wade in a fine river, and practice my casting.

After covering only about a fifth of the length of this section, I come upon a downed tree, against the bank.

Normally, especially in this shallow run with occasional channels against the side brush, this would be a killer location for mid-sized Rainbows.

Today…one trout took a look at my fly, then darted away with a speed that told me it was much more nervous than hungry.

I tried a fly change, with no luck, but then caught a bit of movement out of the corner of my eye.

See that lovely little tunnel in the brush? I didn’t…until the young otter slipped out of it.

Okay, now this makes sense.

A good stretch for fly fishing means a good stretch for otters to raise their young, too. I am totally fine with being out-fished by otters. I will just have to find a different area to wade…and perhaps learn to be patient and wait for water levels that make those other choices viable.

Sorry, no pic of the otter. Far too quick for me to get the phone out and ready to grab the shot.

Next time, river. Next time.

Tight lines…