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So what was the problem on the Yak this weekend?

  • My buddy didn't put me on good water.

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  • There are no fish left in that section of the Yakima.

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I remember looking at "Fly Fishing Washington" type books about 8 years ago before moving here, and planning to fish the Yakima regularly. Well after being here all this time, I finally fished the Yak for the first time this past weekend. I was invited by a friend with a raft (hopefully the first of many times) and will admit to doing exactly zero research or planning for the day. I basically grabbed a couple rods and my trout flies and jumped in his rig.

We floated from outside Cle Elum to Thorpe. This was his first time floating this section/area of the river as well. It was a pretty bright/sunny day despite the rain and clouds going over the pass and was quite windy most of the day. I spent most of the time fishing nymphs but tossed some streamers some too. To say the fishing was slow for us was an understatement. I had one small bow to hand and a couple LDRs and my buddy just caught one too.

After blanking on many NICE looking stretches, I was blaming my rust as the cause (I haven't fished much flowing trout water the last few years). I kept thinking "there's no way I don't hook something through here" but never did. It was a blast being back on a trout stream at any rate. Anyone else out on the river? Was it that slow for everyone else or do I just suck at trout fishing now? Any pointers for future trips?
 

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I don't have any experience floating the Yak because I only wade fish and I typically fish alone. My experience on the Yak is limited to the section above the Cle Elum (aka "the upper Yak") with the exception of a few skunkings in the area you were in. I've put in many hours on that river and the best I can sum it up is as follows: In general I find it to be a river that dishes out many hours of fishless angling with some moments of pure joy sprinkled in. I've had many days catching no fish on the Yak and have had a some epic days. I equate it to hitting a great golf shot. You may play an entire round of shitty golf, score in the triple digits and lose balls all day long but you will undoubtedly hit one great shot and that will make the whole day woth it and keep you coming back for more.

The fish in the Yak get a lot of flies thrown at them so they are wise to most tricks. Persistence is key. There are a variety of fly shops (Reds, Troutwater, the Evening Hatch) that post fairly regular fishing reports, which include tips on which bugs to use and how the flows are, which can make a huge difference. Those are helpful to visit prior to fishing. You may also want to either consider a guided trip or a trip with someone who fishes there often so they can help you understand the river better and where the fish may be hiding. I'm purely a DIY angler so I'm learning as I go. It's a beautiful river and holds big and small fish so even a day catching nothing is a good day. Keep at it and know that you are not alone in the experience you've just described.
 

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Even on a blue ribbon river, we've had these days...... everything majpreal said is spot on. But once you do start to figure the yak out and put some time, you can get more consistent fish to net than a lot of other rivers. But def check out one of the local shops, they are not shy with their insight and advice.
 

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Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
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Matt,
That is my favorite section to fish.
After fishing it for years over multiple days while both floating and banking it, there are certainly specific sections of that float that can reward you greatly.
It took me a number of years to figure them out.
Drop me a line before your next float and I'll try and help you out.
Brian
 

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It isn't a super technical river, but it does have a little bit of a learning curve. Just keep at it. Logging river time is more valuable than anything you can read here. Once you figure out her secrets you'll be hooked on that river. I've had some incredible days there and caught some really special fish.

If all else fails, just work the snot out of the riffles with the Yak special, aka Pat's stone with a lightning bug or small hare's ear trailing behind....
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well I'm no stranger to river fishing, or fishing rivers that see lots of pressure, but the Yak likely has less fish per mile than I am accustomed to. I did look up some hindsight fishing reports/fly recommendations and we were pretty spot on for flies. Having floated it once, we definitely would have slowed down and fished certain sections more thoroughly had we known what was coming and how long the float would take. Like I said, I did notice some NICE NICE water so I'm not surprised to hear it can put out some nice fish.

Matt,
That is my favorite section to fish.
After fishing it for years over multiple days while both floating and banking it, there are certainly specific sections of that float that can reward you greatly.
It took me a number of years to figure them out.
Drop me a line before your next float and I'll try and help you out.
Brian
Will do Brian, thanks!

Matt, don't you know you're supposed to post up looking for specifics before heading out on such a trip? ;)

Afraid I can't help ya with the Yak. Personally I've never been able to figure out the best tides to fish there :)
I know what you mean - I had a hell of a time finding tide tables for this area! haha

It isn't a super technical river, but it does have a little bit of a learning curve. Just keep at it. Logging river time is more valuable than anything you can read here. Once you figure out her secrets you'll be hooked on that river. I've had some incredible days there and caught some really special fish.

If all else fails, just work the snot out of the riffles with the Yak special, aka Pat's stone with a lightning bug or small hare's ear trailing behind....
There were some great looking riffles and pocket water that were tough to fish from the boat. The river was in nice shape, but it was cooking along pretty good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I equate it to hitting a great golf shot. You may play an entire round of shitty golf, score in the triple digits and lose balls all day long but you will undoubtedly hit one great shot and that will make the whole day woth it and keep you coming back for more.
This makes absolutely no sense.....I don't think you're supposed to mix fly fishing and golf.....how could you possibly have time for both!? ;)
 

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I would recommend learning the river by wade fishing it first. Then when you get the chance to float it, you already know some specific spots and drifts that fish well. Also, on the upper Yak especially, stopping and anchoring or getting out of the boat and working the great looking troughs and pockets can be very rewarding. Its an awesome river and considered the home water of many on this board, just takes time on the river to get the hang of it!
 

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9x Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year
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Matt, don't you know you're supposed to post up looking for specifics before heading out on such a trip? ;)

Afraid I can't help ya with the Yak. Personally I've never been able to figure out the best tides to fish there :)
The tides change twice a year. I like low tide better unless I have someone to row my ass all day, then high tide can also be productive
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I would recommend learning the river by wade fishing it first. Then when you get the chance to float it, you already know some specific spots and drifts that fish well. Also, on the upper Yak especially, stopping and anchoring or getting out of the boat and working the great looking troughs and pockets can be very rewarding. Its an awesome river and considered the home water of many on this board, just takes time on the river to get the hang of it!
Usually the opposite is the fastest way to learn a river. By floating you get to see a lot of water and can narrow down where to go wade fish the next time. But you're obviously right, had I known the river it likely would have been a more productive day.
 

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Usually the opposite is the fastest way to learn a river. By floating you get to see a lot of water and can narrow down where to go wade fish the next time. But you're obviously right, had I known the river it likely would have been a more productive day.
True regarding getting to know the area, floating can be a great asset. What I was getting at, is that when floating, you tend to fly by spots. But wading and dissecting certain spots allows you to get to know the exact seams and lies that trout may hold! Especially true during the colder months on the Yak or any river for that matter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
True regarding getting to know the area, floating can be a great asset. What I was getting at, is that when floating, you tend to fly by spots. But wading and dissecting certain spots allows you to get to know the exact seams and lies that trout may hold! Especially true during the colder months on the Yak or any river for that matter.
Yeah I got ya. Good point and like I said there was lots of water I would stop and fish longer the next time just for that reason.

Windy, full-sun, lots of traffic (fishing and rafting) on the water, and low water for this time of year - not an abnormal experience anywhere you go, but the Yakima does hold its secrets, especially if you like to not stare at bobbers all day.
When the nymphs weren't getting it done we started throwing more streamers but never got more than a couple follows. But yeah, not ideal conditions on the river for active fish.
 

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That section is so pretty. For the past three years I've been one of the regulars on the yak. I've probably floated that section over 100 times now. This year it's finished a little weird, seems they're not keyed in on any flies yet, this year as far as flies go there are but no silver bullets. All I can tell you is if you're fishing nymphs fish small size 20 and 24s. If you're fishing dries go big.

Lately I've been floating in the farmlands section, KOA down to ringer. It can be a little dangerous, you have to run through a small diversion dam which is pretty safe right now, and around the server log jams one of them is blocking three quarters of the river you will have to walk your boat around it. However The fishing has been much more consistent down there then the upper Canyon where you floated. But it's not nearly as scenic and you don't get huge cutthroat trout. If you do decide to put the farmlands, try spends much time as you can out of the boat. Most of the fish I catch in that section are caught on side channels.
 
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