Once again it is that time of year, when Central Washington's Yakima River becomes a slow and docile fly fishing stream.
The high volume, intense river flows of summer, that are used to irrigate thousands of acres of prime farming grounds across three separate counties, has been drawn down for the year.
This typically fast, flowing western
tributary of the Columbia, that moves with incredible energy over a majority of the year, metamorphosis's over a several day period
and it's swift, explosive current, dramatically drops to a controlled, humble fall flow.
Incredibly, the Yakima River's headwaters' reservoirs that are strategically placed along the Cascade Mountain Range to collect melting snow packs, are at the lowest water holding capacity that they have been in years;
perhaps ever since their construction. By today's record, Keechulus and Cle Elum Reservoirs are well below the single digit percentile range and Kachess is quickly draining. Even with a cooler than normal
summer that occurred here, spill rates from these three impoundments were quite normal
to reach summer irrigation demands.
The Cle Elum Reservoir, the headwaters largest
man-made impoundment is extremely low, due to Sockeye Salmon mitigation work that is being
conducted at the dam at this time. Salmon have become a
intricial part of the Yakima River system once again and have shown to be a vital part of the health, production and strength of the stream.
Historically, Spring, Summer and Fall Chinook along with Coho and Sockeye Salmon returned in vast numbers each and every season. Here is another amazing fact about the Yakima watershed. Annually over 50,000 wild steelhead returned and
spawned in the Upper Yakima River as well. As of today, anadromous fish species are in peril in almost every river and stream in the Northwest. They are tied up in government bureaucracy,
hypocrisy, gratuitous litigations and a hatchery fish mentality of kill to thrill
philosophy and entitlement.
However, in order to protect the
complete economical resources in Kittitas, Yakima and Benton Counties, we had better hope for a strong snow pack in the Cascades this winter or we could see some devastating drought effects next summer. Restoring
salmon runs to the watershed is vitally important. However, it seems like quite a gamble to draw the reservoir to a trickle, when the need for water throughout Central Washington is
critical for protecting native, resident fish, as well as the agricultural industry, residential and the livelihood
of thousands of people. Water is the number one ingredient for achieving the direct mission, without it nothing exists.
It's not all doom and gloom in the fish world, their is good news to report on. Trout
fishing in Kittitas County is out of
this world good as we approach the prime time portion of the fly fishing season on the Yakima
River. The "Yak" has experienced some
excellent, match the hatch insect
emergences and the fly fishing only gets better through the month of October.
As we progress each day towards fall and the cooler temperatures settle in, this is what to expect with insect hatches. Blue Wing
Olives or Baetis, which ever term you like to use, will steal the show on most days. Be prepared in the afternoon for tiny bug fishing and match the hatch with sizes that will test even the
strongest fishing eyes, especially as
the month progresses. As we get
later in the month, the BWO's tend to
get smaller. Don't shy away from this form of fly fishing. It is perhaps the funniest and some of the most challenging trout fishing you can encounter during your fly fishing tenure. Their are several
very convincing ways to fish tiny flies,
efficiently and be effective.
close to the feeding fish as
possible without spooking them, if
rising trout are visible.
Present the fly upstream, utilizing
just the right amount of fly line to
get the job complete.
Remember, dead drifts are crucial
here, so if you can't see your fly,
your out of the game! The further
distance that the small fly gets
from you, the harder it will be to
see as well as to control.
Also, water glare can be a constant issue during the afternoon. A good set of polarized glasses is a must have not only for eye protection from sharp hooks, but a
necessary tool to aid in visual acuity.
It can be hard to see a tiny fly as
you cast into the direction of
blinding light and water glare. If at all possible, fish with your back to
wading the rivers this fall move like a lion
stalking it's prey, progress quietly
along the sub straight. Fish
see and feel movement thru their
lateral line. Present your fly
up stream on a longer, finer leader
or tippet. This will provide
you with time to control your drift
as well as control your line mending
tandem rig, with your point fly
being the larger of the two.
Connect your smaller fly to the
bend of your point fly, spacing it
approximately 16 to 18" between each
other. This provides a good extension between the two flies as they are presented
and allows you to locate your
smaller fly immediately upon forward casting. Fluorocarbon is best to use,
especially on sunny days and with
low, gin clear water.
It won't refract light and will lie
in the film during your controlled
For fishermen with challenging eyes, finding the eye of the hook on a size 20 can be a frustrating event. However, fishermen in the same predicament have developed several tools that
work well to aid in threading a small fly to thin diameter tippets. Most are inexpensive and can be a godsend with small flies, bad vision and low light.
course, everyone loves to fish on nice,
warm, sunny autumn days. However, with
the current state of low water on the
Yakima at the moment, bright sun and
minimal water conditions are not easy
combinations. Fish have eyes like
eagles and detect every flaw in your drift. They can and will at times,
inspect the fly for several feet before engaging with it. Cloudy over cast days are
best by far. For optimal fishing,
if you can select the days when cloud
cover will dominate and even a little
rain shower or two mixed in really get
the Blue Wing Olive Mayflies stirred up
tippets and light hook sets will be required as well as a gentle touch to put big rainbows and cutthroat in the net on the Yakima during this month. This can be some of thee most exciting and exhilarating fly fishing
we experience during the season, as you cast to rising fish, recklessly slurping small mayflies in the film.
October is perhaps the finest of
months to be outdoors. The
Fall foliage begins its
transformation and the vivid eye
blasting colors, canvas the rivers
of the Pacific Northwest. The
Vine Maples, Cottonwoods, Oaks and
other flora aid in inducing a
picturesque experience and the
Yakima River standing
concentrations of vegation is quietly changing its
The other big insect event during
the month of October is of course
the infamous "Halloween Caddis"
or October Caddis. We
experience many big bug hatches
on the Yakima River throughout
the fly fishing season.
Large stoneflies, big mayflies
and now large, orange caddis. This hallowed caddis has
to be in a league of its own,
when it comes to big bug envy.
This brightly colored to burnt
orange insect will consistently
bring big, Yakima trout to the
surface, when presented
correctly. This is big, dry
fly fishing at it's finest.
Their are a couple of different
techniques for fishing this
unique, cased caddis and it has
been perfected over the years on
river across the Pacific
Northwest. Books, magazine
articles and other folklore tales
have been transcribed on
parchment and relayed countless
times over the last century about
a skated orange, caddis patterns
in October and it commandment to
bring the largest sea-run
rainbows to the surface.
Of course, the dry fly fished on
a dead drift will many times
provoke violet attacks from
trout, as they actively seek out
this large silhouette food form.
However, add some life and
movement to your favorite October
Caddis patterns and watch it
increase your hook setting
tendencies. Fly fishing is the
act of imitating a natural food
form in many different degrees.
With October Caddis, skating, twitching and inducing
life into your fly only helps mimic, this
highly active, egg laying caddis.
Half the fun for the fish must be
in the ability of the chase and
the reward in its capture.
Caddis are a cased caddis, which
means over their life span, they
live entombed inside a vessel
around their body or pupa.
August before pupation they are
active under the water and the
trout feast on the shelled insect,
ingesting the worm like pupa and
passing the remains of the case
after digestion. Many times
upon observations, you can feel the
tight guts of a trout and the
hard, cased caddis shells inside their
bulging belly. Many
fishermen that harvest trout, find
them inside their stomach lining
upon cleaning and refer to them as
flies, tied with varying colors
utilizing variegated chenille bodies
work well in imitating the cased
caddis. Uncased pupa patterns
are also very effective fished
during the day as well throughout
the fall. Dead drifting or
swinging them on a floating line will in most
instances accomplish the task at
hand. Rarely is a sinking line called into practice, when fly fishing for trout. Spey fishing or single hand steelhead fishing may require a sinking type line if water types, depths and flow rates
Typically you will find October
Caddis Pupa emerge or hatch along
the edges of the river or where sub
structure like logs, root wads or
larger boulders have settled. Changes in depth or color changes a few feet from the bank of the river where the level gradually increases are key area's and perfect October Caddis habitat as well.
These are area's of interest to
the fly fisher and places to
concentrate your initial efforts
with these types of flies.
do we see an October Caddis adult seen eaten by a big trout, as they bounce quickly along the top of the water laying eggs. However, it is the
to correspond the color of the pupa, the silhouette of a big fly , the erratic movements and the color orange, as a key indicator in
imitating the natural food form. Orange body colored patterns in size 6, 8 and 10
are ideal for just about any river in the PNW as well as the Yakima.
of October Caddis can remain
consistent well into the month of
November and will depend solely on
how quickly winter settles into the
Yakima River Valley this year.
With the cooler temperatures that
have occurred over the past week,
specific sections of the Yakima are
just beginning their cycle of this
giant caddisfly hatch. This
is great to see because these
area's will receive intense hatches
throughout the day and it is that
time of year when fish fuel their
feeding activity and bulk up before
the aquatic insects disappear for
The entire river experiences
excellent hatches of the caddisflies, so wherever your day takes you in October on the "Yak", make sure you are prepared for this thrilling fly fishing
insect encounter with cased
caddis nymphs, pupa's and adult dry
past two consecutive years, WBFC
has hosted a group of 8 traveling
anglers for a week of incredible
fly fishing in our nation's largest
national park, which covers a vast
area of Alaska. Regarded as
"The Jewel Of Alaska", the
Wood-Tikchik State Park ranges over
a 1.7 million acre area and for
those that venture to the Fishing
Bear Lodge with WBFC, will be
astounded by a seven days of
mesmerizing, natural beauty.
The Fishing Bear Lodge
is located at the mouth of the Peace River
in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska. Visiting this venue
myself in 2018 and 2019, I must agree fully. The scenery is incredible,
plus the fly fishing is absolutely
spoiling. Each day from the
Fishing Bear Lodge, we will travel
a short distance by jet boat to our
fly fishing destination. Here, we
will fish for large rainbow trout,
Artic Grayling, Artic Char,
Northern Pike and Sockeye Salmon.
The majority of the trout fishing
that is done is all on dry flies.
Yes dry flies. We will visit
the Peace, Wind and
Aguilpak Rivers as well as several
other incredible, small streams
during the weeks stay at Fishing
The dates for
the next Alaska adventure in 2020 are August 4th thru August 11th. If you
are interested in joining us on this incredible fly fishing experience
in August 2020, please contact us at the WBFC Pro-Shop
for more information or visit
Fishing Bear Lodge. We
are booking seats now on this
increidable journey to the "Last
SPACES AVAILABLE AT THIS TIME FOR
AUGUST 2020: 8
CHRISTMAS ISLAND-MAY 21st-MAY 29th &
JULY 28th-AUGUST 4th-2020
Take part in another exciting adventure to the mecca of saltwater fly fishing on
Christmas Island. In May, Aron Larson
and Steve Worley will host this travel quest to the flats of Kiritimati and fly
fish for a variety of exciting and challenging saltwater species.
In July of 2020, WBFC Prostaffer,
Dom Singh will host a group as
well. There are only a few open fishing spaces left available for this exciting, travel destination, where the sun is always shining and the average temperature is
near 80 degrees daily.
If you are interested in joining this trip, please contact us
ASAP. The May 2020 trip has
only (2) two available seats left.The July trip at this time is wide
open with 8 spaces to fill at this
time. Christmas Island has very
limited flight capacities and
Fuji Airlines only lands on the island once a week.
To learn more about this exciting adventure to the tropics of Christmas Island, I would suggest listening to my in-depth conversation with traveling, fly fishing adventurer, Stefan Piccone
on the 15th broadcast of "Guide Chronicles." Stefan spent a week in Christmas
Island April 2018. Stefan will
join the WBFC group in May and is
readily available to answer any
questions about the trip as well. The
episode has detailed information on how to and what you can expect
during your week on the oasis, fly fishing in the tropical sands of Christmas
FISHING SPACES AVAILABLE
FOR MAY 2020:
It has been sometime since
I updated everyone on the
state of the Yakima River
Access Project. Their
has been some developments
with the project,
especially over the past
couple of months. In
February of this year, the
Kittitas County Board of
presented with the "Yakima
River Access Plan" and it
was approved unanimously.
If you would like to
download the plan and read
it you can do so
Now that the plan has been
adopted and approved, a sub
committee, called the
Yakima River Access
Committee has been formed.
The sub-committee is made
up of members of the
Kittitas County Public
Lands Advisory Board, in
which I hold a volunteer
position. The YRAC is
made of six members of the
KCPLAB. The members
of the committee have
agreed to begin work on
three (3) different and
unique projects along the
Upper Yakima River corridor
as well as seek funding for
The first project is the
reopening of Gladmar Park
in the town of Thorp.
Gladmar Park is a county
owned piece of property
that was compromised during
the floods of 1996, when
the Yakima River tore
through 3 counties with
flows that exceeded 26,000
cfs. The park was
almost completely destroyed
by the high waters and is
now considered to be part
of the main stem of the
Yakima. The roads to
and from the park were
uprooted and completely
washed out and access at
this time is by foot only.
With the reopening of the
park, we will successfully
achieve targeting every
user group within the plan,
which would include
campers, hikers, bird
watchers, hunters and
fishermen as well as other
The reopening of a public
boat launch facility will
also be added to the park
The next undertaking will
be to improve the boat
launch faculty at South Cle
Elum. As of now this
launch is in drastic need
of repair. It is a
difficult launching faculty
for drift boats, rafts or
other floating devices.
The big boulders, huge pot
holes and steep uneven bank
make it a challenge any
time of the year.
Then, the 3rd project we
will be addressing is the
traffic and congestion of
people at the confluence of
the Teanaway River and the
Yakima River. This is
a trouble spot, especially
during the summer as the
"rubber hatch" descends on
the river in every floating
The hazards of fast moving
vehicles on Highway 10 and
the hundreds of people
dropping into the river
here for a float is
extremely dangerous and a
ticking time bomb.
Also the boat launch
faculty at "State" or "East
Cle Elum" is difficult at
this time. The main
stem of the Yakima River
below this launch site is
completely blocked with
logs, root wads and such
and is completely
impassable. We are
looking at developing a
site at the old church camp
just upriver from the
Teanaway at this time, to
alleviate the congestion on
Highway 10 and create safer
passage for everyone.
The group is excited about
these 3 particular projects
and we look forward to
moving forward over the
next several months in
completing the mission.
Of course, we will keep you
updated on the processes as
we continue to repair and
improvements to our states
best wild trout fishery.
It's hard for me to believe that I am
putting together the fall newsletter,
the season seems to have flown by
It has been an incredibly busy year
for the WBFC staff of professional fly
fishermen. We have been busy
fishing the Yakima River for trout and
bass as well as the Columbia Desert
Unit, Alaska and Christmas Island.
We want to thank all of our close
fishing friends for that time.
We look forward to more on these
incredible experiences and more.
In 2020, we are adding a hosted
Louisiana Redfish trip to the docket,
so keep a close eye out for that
information hitting the WBFC website
and social pages soon.
The "Yak" is in prime shape for
autumn and the fish are healthier
then we have ever seen them.
It has been a fun and exciting
experience to watch over the past
couple of decades, as this
fishery blossoms into one of the
best fly fishing rivers in the
west. With more
improvements on the way and the
increased output production of
salmon to the Yakima over the
next decade, we can only predict
that the "Yak" will become even a
finer fishing stream as each and
every season passes.
I hope you find time to get out
this fall and enjoy some of the
prime time fly fishing that
Central Washington has to offer.
Stop by the WBFC Proshop on your
way to or from and our
experienced, friendly staff of
professionals will help you with
what ever questions you may have.
You can also visit our
Pro-Shop Sale page as we are
closing out some 2019 rod models
and making room for the 2020's.
As always thank you for your
business and I will see you on