Big Upper Yakima Rainbow

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Bill Dodd, Mar 23, 2007.

  1. Nice fish. Hope I can get into one like that when I get over the pass to fish the upper Yak... please don't tel anyone where on the Upper Yak you fish.....
    I want it all to myself!
  2. So what is it about the Yakima that is does not have a larger native run of steelhead. Yes the supplement the populations on the Methow and Wenatchee with hatchery smolts but historically those rivers hadlarge native runs. I suspect the yak did as well, so why not now?
  3. The STHD run above roza has averaged about 100 fish since 1991 (pretty poor production for about 1,800 square miles). Possible reasons:

    Yak STHD are trib spawners--66% of tribs in the Yak basin above Roza are inaccessible (Wilson, Naneum) marginally accessible (Manastash, Big, Little), accessible in good water years (Swauk) or only recently improved (Taneum). Alot of diversions/siphons etc still block fish and most water users have trib and Yak project water. They use the trib water until it runs out and then go on project water (post-1905 water rights). Net result--tuff flow conditions coupled with physical obstructions make spawning tuff for the few fish that make it up.

    Mainstem habitat sorely simplified--side channels are mostly gone and where intact get flushed around the end of June most years when BOR begins releasing water (just about the time O. mykiss swimup from the redd). Fry are either blasted out and displaced or have to try and make a go of it in the big water flowing at 3-4 times its unregulated discharge in a channel that lacks quality shallow-water habitats in any meaningful quantity...

    In average and below average water years, Roza traps fish when BOR is making power (they either find an 80 cfs bypass at the ladders in a slackwater pool or have to sound 12 feet to swim thru a 6-inch slit. Stand on the dam and watch the smolts swim around... Residualization is really the only option. Those that make it have 128 miles to the Columbia at the outset of fairly tough water quality conditions in the 106 miles below Sunnyside Dam. Even if the resident O. mykiss pop is kicking out a few anadromous fish, now and then they're likely toast on the way out.

    Granted--flow related challenges were part of the natural mix and Yak STHD could have handled a few bad years here and there. But, when they see 2 good years every 8 or ten bad years it gets tough to maintain a viable population.

    Start asking the old timers what flip-flop did to the RBT fishery in the upper Yakima...

    IMHO, these are major factors why the STHD are down and out in the upper Yakima.
  4. A friend of mine's grandfather was a farmer in E-burg for a long long time. He recalled many good size native steelhead spawning in every ditch and creek they could in days back. So much of the water is diverted, or runs dry seasonally.

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