Yakima River, WA
The Yakima River, which is approximately 1 ½ to 2 hours from Seattle, is Washington state's only blue ribbon trout stream. There are good numbers of rainbow trout which average 11" to 13" with pods of larger fish also available. There are a few cutthroat in the mix as well, but rainbows predominate. The Yakima is primarily a tailwater, but a few major tributaries give it a freestone stream feel as well. It flows out of the east side of the Cascades from several resevoirs through Cle Elum and Ellensburg before reaching the Rosa Dam, which marks the end of the blue ribbon stretch of this river. The Yakima is a fertile river and has many of the insects that are found throughout the west. Baetis, PMD's and Mahoganies are plentiful, caddis are strong from mother's day into the fall and there are enough Skwala and summer stones to keep things interesting through the summer. Terrestrials generally abound during the heat of the summer and early fall, so hoppers and ants will produce during this time. Fall brings on more baetis mayflies, plus the large October Caddis. In the dead of winter, warmer days produce midge hatches that get the fish moving our of their winter doldrums.
The Yakima is open year round, but each season has it's charms and challenges. Winter is the most difficult period as cold water slows the fish down, but a slight warming trend will get the fish moving to streamers or an occassional midge hatch. This is challenging fishing, but if you are on the river during a brief warming spell, you will have the river, the scenery and the fish to yourself. Spring brings prolific hatches and possibly the best fishing (especially dry fly fishing) of the year, however, if it gets too warm, runoff from local tributaries can raise the river and make it unfishable. Once the river stabilizes, the fishing generally picks up. Summer has consistent flows, but the river runs high for several months as water releases from the resevoirs are started to allow for farmer irrigation. This time of year is a boaters show and wading options are limited. Fall is quite possibly the best season as consistent low flows generally prevail and reliable hatches occur after the summer heat dissipates and before the extreme cold of winter sets in. The fall color in the streamside vegetation and trees coupled with equinox lighting in the canyon is something to experience.