March: BWOs mid day and Skwala Stoneflies in the afternoon. March Browns are getting cranked up.
April: Skwala and BWOs are still strong and March Browns are at their peak. Runoff can be an issue in the spring, but March and April generally produce the Yakima’s best dry fly action for big fish.
May: Still a few BWOs followed by Mahogany Duns and the epic American Grannom (Mother’s Day Caddis) hatch. Salmon Flies in the upper river
June: Pale Morning Duns, Big Yellow Mays, Yellow Sallys, Terrestrials and a variety of Caddis. Golden Stones and Green Drakes in the upper river. Still possible runoff issues in May and June, but the biggest variety of hatches of the year. We often work 2 or 3 different hatches during the course of the day.
July: As water temps rise, Summer Stones (short winged stones) and evening caddis begin to emerge in earnest and Hoppers and other terrestrials become important menu items.
August: Summer Stones, Hoppers and evening Caddis. Steady flows and big dry flies in July and August.
September: The Yakima drops from summer to fall levels. Generally the best nymphing of the year for numbers of fish. Summer Stones in the first few weeks of the month followed by October Caddis and Light Cahills as the water cools.
October: October Caddis, BWOs, Mahogany Duns and Light Cahills. Traditionally, the best small dry fly of the year.
November: BWOs and Mahogany Duns until Mayfly hatches are replaced by Midges as water temps drop.
December / January: Nymphs and streamers. Trout metabolism slows as the river cools, so they require fewer calories and eat less. Fish tend to congregate in or near slower, deeper water. Persistence in finding and working the fish is key in the winter.
February: As the days get longer and water temps begin to rise, trout and trout food become more active. Trout begin to feed heavily as the water warms and spring spawning time approaches. Nymphing can be very good.
Seasons on the Yakima
A Brief History: Prior to implementing new regulations on the Yakima River from 1983 to 1990, the river was a stock, catch and kill fishery. The restoration of wild trout in the Yakima began in 1983 when a selective fishery designation was placed on the river from the mouth of Wilson creek to the Teanaway River and all planting of hatchery fish was stopped in favor of natural reproduction. In 1986 bait was prohibited from Roza dam to Easton and in 1988 the river from Roza dam to Easton was designated as a selective fishery. The final step in creating a quality wild trout river was taken in 1990 with the designation of the Yakima River from Roza dam to Easton dam as a catch and release fishery. Many people worked to finally achieve this goal, but special thanks go to Rolland “Rollie” Schmitten, an avid fly fisher and former Director of Wash. Dept. Of Fisheries and former National Director of Marine Fisheries.
The Yakima River originates at Keechelus Lake on the eastern “dry side” of the Cascade mountains and flows 214 miles to the Columbia river near Richland. The Blue Ribbon catch and release stretch of the Yakima river, from Easton Dam to Roza Dam, has over 75 miles of prime, diverse trout water. An average of 300 days of sun per year, combined with three reservoirs which insure good flows and cool water in the summer, provide an ideal environment where trout and trout food thrive. This stretch of the Yakima can be divided into five different sections, the much smaller upper river between Keechelus dam and the confluence of the Cle Elum river, the upper flatlands near Cle Elum, the forested upper canyon below Cle Elum, the lower flatlands near Ellensburg and Thorpe and the lower, desert canyon between Ellensburg and Roza dam. Each section has its own distinct character and can require different strategies to fish effectively. The river between Union Gap and Benton City is low and warm during the irrigation season and supports very few fish. The river from Benton City to Richland has higher flows and is a very good Small Mouth bass fishery.
Hatch size and timing can vary quite a bit from year to year due to weather, river conditions and other, more mystical factors. The descriptions above are based on 25+ years fishing the Yakima and are good but not absolute indications of what to expect month to month on the river.