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I spent the good part of Saturday on the Yakima and enjoyed a wonderful day. I fished from about 9-3 and saw one other person while wading on a section near Cle Elum. Unfortunately I brought no fish to hand, but had 6 or 7 on. The takes were REALLY subtle. I figure I probably missed another 7,000 fish as the indicator did not look or feel much different than just ticking a rock. After watching this for a while I decided to try and hook some of those rocks, and low and behold they were fish. Unfortunately not all of them were fish, so I lost a few flies in the trees behind after a good hook set.

Around noon is when I had the only real take, and even it was subtle. It was on a pretty good drift of my nymphs, but the indicator just kept on going. I applied a little pressure and saw a HUGE fish just roll, apply its weight, and broke my 5X tippet midway. I did not set the hook hard at all and the fish did not run it just kind of rolled and SNAP! I am not sure if there are steelhead on the Yakima or not, but it was something really, REALLY big.

All in all, it was a wonderful day on the river. It is always a little frustrating to not touch a fish, but I was treated to a few nice runs and one fish that was as acrobatic as I have seen in a while. I decided to stop in Cle Elum for burger and beer, then drove home listening to some live Johnny Cash with the window down. Just a great day. Thankful to live in this great state and be healthy.

Tight Lines all.
 

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Driven by irrational exuberance.
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Oh, sure it could have been a steelhead, and this is the time of year for an accidental encounter. This has been a record year for the last 20 years for steelhead past Prosser Dam, 5273 to date so we could end up with 6000. http://ykfp.org/yakindex.htmThe peak months for going over Roza are March and April, but there has been 28 over Roza already, with the big day being 10/25. http://www.cbr.washington.edu/dart/adultpass.html I hooked one 3/08 fishing below Roza http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/gallery/member-galleries/p26764-i-tried-to-catch-a-yak.html on a #14 PT.

A lucky catch though. Just a taste of what the Yakima could be like if we can fix some more passage issues.
 

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Same experience last Thursday - more than likely Ytfish on those subtle hits, IMHO. But, I did turn a couple nice fish on a streamer right at dark near Ringer. I'm floating S. Cle Elum to State tomorrow and with the current water temps, expect to see some good things.
 

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There are some large steelhead in the Yak, more than people think. On election day, Mr. Bill Dodd took myself and a buddy on a drift trip from the farmlands to KOA campgrounds. I was lucky enough to hook and land a steelie in the high teens while nymphing for trout, using a 4wt-5x set up. The Yak has potential to be a awesome steelhead fishery.
 

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Driven by irrational exuberance.
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I was amazed when I was wandering along the streams of SE AK in the 70's that I'd catch these 18-20 rainbows in the brackish mouths of some streams. It was like O. mykiss in SE AK was acting more like Puget Sound searun cutts. And the Bristol Bay rainbows that stay resident and get huge acting like Dollys eating salmon eggs and fry.

There are two different ideas about what produces large anadromous rainbows. One idea is that freshwater conditions are so good, they grow to a large enough size as juveniles to trigger migration to the ocean. The other idea is that freshwater conditions get so bad, like low warm water, that the best strategy is to migrate to the ocean. http://ykfp.org/steelheadworkshop/ Two completely different ideas. Lately, Steve Cramer has been proposing models that show how both strategies can be explained when you also add in ease of getting to the ocean and back.

A problem for the Yakima is the Roza Dam that operated for most of the 20th century to prevent O. mykiss anadromy. Now that bottleneck has been mostly corrected. The next step is to improve connectivity in some of the tributaries like Manastash, Taneum, and Wilson.
 

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Piscatorial predilection
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As already pointed out, you just might have seen a steelie on the Yak.
That section you were on, Farm Lands above the KOA, is where I caught and released a steelhead about a year ago, actually I think it was in March last year.
I was completely surprised by it too. Congratulations! you are going to remember that and replay it over again, in your thought's, probably for the rest of your life.
I've also seen salmon, big ones, spawning up around Bullfrog, but of course it's way past time for them.

LB
 

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The KOA seems to be the key - I hooked into a BIG fish last April on the last quality run above KOA. I was nymphing at the very end of the "V" formed by the opposing channels of the low water, and had a big fish take me into backing within 5-10 seconds. I never saw it, and attempted to get into the boat to chase it down. I handed off the rod to Tyler, and then...it was gone. It didn't act like any other fish I've ever caught on the Yak.

Not a fish story.
 

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I was amazed when I was wandering along the streams of SE AK in the 70's that I'd catch these 18-20 rainbows in the brackish mouths of some streams. It was like O. mykiss in SE AK was acting more like Puget Sound searun cutts. And the Bristol Bay rainbows that stay resident and get huge acting like Dollys eating salmon eggs and fry.
The really really big bristol bay rainbows act more like steelhead than anything else, getting huge in Lake Illiamna and Naknek Lake (Illiamna has enough fish to have a population of seals), if they were in Michigan they would be called steelhead for sure. Why go to Bristol Bay when lake Illiamna is there?
 

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I live on the Teanaway just above the Yak and I usually walk down to the river every other day. On part of the river in front of my place the channel narrows, then opens flat, then narrows again. I have seen three four to five pound Steelies move through this section the last two years. I have a picture of one that turned out pretty good - I'll see if I can find it.
 

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I believe I actually had a steelhead take a stimulator off the top on the Yak. I got a couple of glimpses of it and it was a monster. The closest I got it to hand was probably 10 feet away. It ran 3 times and took me close to my backing each time. With a 5wt rod and a 5x tippet, for the sake of the fish, after the last run I figured I needed to end this one way or another. So, I just leaned on the rod and tried to horse it in, knowing I'd either land this thing or break it off. It was the latter. Still, it was a heck of a lot of fun.
 

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Formerly FlyCatcherman, formerly Don_The_Fly
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Yes it is possible that you could have encountered steel. However, there are the occasional large rainbows that do inhabit the Yakima from Rosa. I have caught several 3+ lb bows in the Cle Elum area. while not the norm it is possible.
 

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I can see the lines of anglers spey casting 8 wt's and swinging big articulated flies above the KOA already. This coming weekend, with so many westside rivers closing, the KOA just may hit a record number of visitors for a February weekend. :)
 

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Yes it is possible that you could have encountered steel. However, there are the occasional large rainbows that do inhabit the Yakima from Rosa. I have caught several 3+ lb bows in the Cle Elum area. while not the norm it is possible.
I've caught hundreds, maybe thousands, of trout in the Yak. While I'm not 100% sure that one I hooked was a steelhead, I do know it was different from all the others. I've had some big fish on in that river, but none that plain overwhelmed a 5wt setup like that one did. Most of the big trout in the Yak get a bit sluggish after a run or two and can be tired out and brought to hand if worked correctly. After 3 runs I could tell this one was ready to fight me to the death. Pure muscle. You know, like a steelhead.
 

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Joe Streamer
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I've read data numerous times that steelhead counts over Roza Dam usually range 200-300 annually, so just estimating: At any given time that might mean a 1 fish per mile count in the 70 mile section between Roza and Easton. OK, maybe that's 2 fish per mile in February. In several dozen days on the Yakima (maybe close to 100), I have seen one steelhead.

Go get 'em spey guys!
 
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