Thursday, February 25, 2010

4th Day at Yakima - Best Burger in Town!?

Yesterday was the 4th visit to Yakima around Ellensburg. It was slow, actually nothing happennded. What's called "skunked". I hate to use this term, because I hate skunks, but I do in order to admit my failure and to reflect for the future.

I really think the weather was the main cause. It's been playing on us recently. Until about my last report, Feb 15th, it had been mostly dry and warm, which excited us for Skwala hatch. But since then we are having rain shower mostly during the night or early in the morning. Freezing temperature until sunrise, then it turns up to 50s in the afternoon. This put down and extended Skwala hatch for sure.

First I almost all forgot my camera. This actually could be a good sign of good fishing day!? I noticed in 15 minutes on the way and I thought it would be good enough to get to the river around 10:00am, not before really, so I made a U-turn and grabbed my camera. Then I got to the Canyon section around 10:00am as I planned.

I parked and started at the spots where the Sun hit through the canyon. For those reason above and my own little experience before, I rigged up nymphs. But unexpectely, midges were hatching!! Skittering and clustering just along the banks. I was barely able to shoot this pic with a moving target mode.

But then there was no surface activity. I knew I chose spots with deeper runs for nymphs. If I had expected hatches, I could move on to spots where I could think for more suitable for dryfly fishing or swiging soft-hackles for the surface film. But now it was already 10:00am. I'd rather keep going with as I rigged. Along with my favorite stonefly nymph patterns as used before, this time I trailed a Shop Vac,

and a $3 Dip.

I used size 18. I think both of them represent broard imitation of nymphs and larvas, right now for midge larva and baetis nymphs.

I didn't have any action or even snags in the Canyon during the morning. I drove up to a town of Ellensburg, dropped by Worley Bugger for some materials, and according to them, water temperature rose since yesterday which would be good for Skwala hatch.

For the lunch to keep me going in the afternoon, I tried a burger stand.

I have no againsts on franchise fast-food burgers but those stuffs don't interest me recently. This is a 1/3 pounder! Fries are tossed with garlick parmesan cheese!

I tried a section around KOA above the town and then Ringer access just below the town. I trusted my flies and water-reading along with great concentration. Nothing happenned. I ended up finishing the day by busting my leader at the tree branch and lost two flies.......

Well, it was hard to admit that I was "skunked" but I enjoyed that my mind was really "ON" like during my big trips to Montana.

I could get out to fishing once a week this month and I will be able to do so in March also. So 4 days in and 4 days more to go. What did I learn during 4 days in and what should I do for next 4 days? Flies, spots, tactics, insect hatches, etc...... This is exactly what's going on in my mind during the trips. This time it's just not consecutive, say, 6 days or 8 days of traveling.

Off the top of my head, what I would most likely to do is.....

At least I am find good places to eat every time I drive up there!! I'll find more.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Regal Vise

I've been tying my own flies and catching trout. Sometimes they look crappy and inferior because of my skills or materials I choose, but still catching trout. In terms of fishing-results, it's OK then. But I've never comromised my tying, instead always trying to improve with my best.

The most important and expensive tying tool is the vise. It can be a life-time tool. One can buy whatever one wants but I think some tools demand respect and skills to handle. To me, it has been a Regal Vise.

Past two years, I've been with this HMH SX vise. It's definitely above an introductory level. It's tough and holds various hook sizes. Also it can be packed for the trip along with materials. As time went by, and as my tying skills and requirement went up, I started to demand more. Due to my extreme tying, the tip was slightly chipped. That seemed to be a problem, especially to hold smaller hooks, sizes 20 and 22.

It isn't totally retired yet instead packed in my travel tying bag along with misc materials. Now, I have less stuffs to pack before trips!!

So I finally obtained a Regal vise. My tying skills and demands are finally qualified to go with it. Besides expense, I had to learn to convert it for left-handed tying. It was simple.

This is what they call "bull-dog jaw" with a Medallion logo.

And then the bronze pocket pedestrial. This is super handy. This keeps hooks, beads, flies, and everything neatly in front of me. Furthermore, the construction and proportion of whole vise keep the tying mess and garbage away from these pockets.

The first fly I tied is my own Coyote. I actually felt I could tie better and more confidentially with the Regal vise.

A shot from the top.

The vise is really heavy to sit on my bench. Its dignity makes it heavier. I am feeling that I am some sort of resposible to tie good flies.

As of now, I am pinning the hook placement instruction on my wall. But I'm getting very comfortable with it.

I hope I can go to the grave with it, really!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Feb 15th Part 2: Skwala Stone Hatch

Yakima River is unique mostly because it's one of the most intenselly irrigated rivers in US. Yet still keeping a catch & release fishery. Another unique feature to discuss would be a Skwala stonefly hatch in winter/early spring. Besides midges and baetis, these large bugs would cause some surface activities and help us select nymph patterns. Worley Bugger has a good information rather than I do......

Size seems easy to figure out but the color drives tyers go mad, I guess. For both nymph and adult, it's like tan, olive, brown, or combo of two or three. How many colors are we looking for then?? 7 combos of colors???

I adapted probably the best Salmonfly pattern for Skwala in terms of the color. It's a Nick's Sunken Stone developed by Mr. Nick at Blue Ribbon Flies. It reprents a egg-laying female in a sitting position rather than skittering or fluttering. I showed this to Tim at Worley Bugger and I bet he's got the point of this fly.

For the same reason about the color, I tied a GM Nymph also from Blue Ribbon Flies in somewhere between olive and brown, while the original is a dark imitation.

Furthermore, I tied some simple soft-hackles in large sizes. I did study some entomology stuffs. These little stonefly nymphs can swim to the bank to emerge while big Salmonfly and Golden Stone nymphs walk the bottom. Shown is Grouse & Claret.

I trailed the Sunken Stone and the soft-hackle. I did hope rises and vicious attacks on the dry but this 12-incher was caught on the soft-hackle. It might have come up to the dry and then took the soft-hackle as a nymph. Or my soft-hackle simply might have looked a nice swimming nymph. Anyways, I saw this trout was coming to my flies in the water. That was exciting enough.

It did take my soft-hackle confidentially in the middle of its mouth.

Well, so far as I've been reporting, I am catching one somewhat respectable trout a day. You might ask: what are you doing?, is that fun?. etc........ Certainly it's slow I admit. But belive or not, I am sincerely enjoying what I am doing and getting. I am basically enjoying the "process" to know this river. First, I depend on tips and info from Worley Bugger and maps. Then I make my own driving and observation for spots and flies. Testing and challenging myself here and there, ideally to fish as I like with my favorite flies, that sort...... I am pushing myself very hard and trying to do something without hiring guides. I never mean to be cheap but mostly I am testing myself to see what I can do. Also there are some very localized hatches in terms of sections and times of the day..............

Then again the joy of getting out to the river in the middle of winter!! And good foods in Ellensburg which are worth making drives all the way!! Taco Del Mar serves a humongous brito that weighs us two-pound instantly!! yet very healthy and tasty!!

I just hope I will be hooking into one or more of 18-inch class or even bigger ones soon.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Feb 15th Part 1: Shadow of Big Fish

It's still in a winter month so the weather here could be a bit unpredictable or mixed of wet stuffs. But at lease we have no problems with this mild winter!!

As I planned, I went to Yakima for the third time. I will try to get up there once a week till the end of March. First of all, I am just quite happy to go to the river and I can wade in. I am still learning but also getting some touches and feelings of this river. I am still observing accesses, spots, structures, and characters of waters but also now am starting to think about or even select my tactics and flies and where to fish and to explore.
Today, I fished up the Canyon Road. This little one was caught by accident on a Rubber Leg. I was walking upstream as I left my line unattended and let it swing downstream.....

As I fishing with nymphs upstream, I finally had a potentially big hook-up!..........gone........ See the scale on my $3 Serendipity. I felt bigger than trout from past two days but who knows? It could have been a foul-hooked also......

Then a real big accident!! As I was walking upstream the bank, I was like "WHAAAAAT???" and "OHHHHHHH MEEEE OHHHHH MYYYYYYY!!!!".

It was a carcass of Coho salmon (I couldn't identify so I showed the picture to Steve at Worley Bugger).

I just felt "what a mother nature................." I'd say it's about 300 miles of our driving from the mouth of Columbia (Portland area) to where I was standing. But these salmon and steelhead have to go through all the dams, all kinds of anglers, and other environmental issues (there's a nuclear plant along the Columbia in WA.....). Furthermore, they are swimming upstream while we drive cars!!

According to Steve, there actually are lots of Kings and Cohos that come all the way up to upper Yakima and local anglers often hook them accidentally. FYI, fishing for steelhead and salmon on purpose is not allowed in Yakima River.

This one must have served its life and purpose. Must have been quite a journey....

But also I did imagine and day-dream that someday (hopefully soon), I would be hooking into this kind "accidentally" while swinging big soft-hackles in Yakima.........

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Yakima River - Day 2

I went fishing to Yakima yesterday, 9th Tuesday. I originally planned to go on Wednesday 10th, but the weather forecast called for snow/rain. It was not actually that bad as I am typing this. But for sure today, 10th, was colder than Tuesday. So I made a right decision.

Since I've already got some information at Worley Bugger last week, I started fishing at Umtanum access. I did read waters well. At least well enough to walk and fish upstream without falling in. I hooked a 12-incher with an olive Bridle Stone. It didn't come to my net or camera.....

I drove up to the town of Ellensburg and dropped by Worley Bugger for some tying materials and information and for a lunch..... BTW, Pappy's Smoking BBQ is one of the best drive-thru I ever visited.......
I could go back to the section above Ellensburg as I did last week but I wanted to try several spots that I observed as I drove to the town. Mile Marker 20 to 22 looks very fishy to me along with great accesses. This is about a 1/4 mile above MM 20.

In the afternoon I fished upstream from here for about a half mile. No actions at all though the water looked very fishy. I was about to give up and walked back here where my truck was parked. Yet it was so fishy, I did one more try with a black/coffee rubber-leg.

I first thought it would be a whitefish if not a brown because the fish went deep rather than running. As I reeled in this 16-inch fat rainbow came in.

She was really heavy for its size, maybe for spawning. I understood why it went deep rather than running!! i hope I didn't stress her much for reproduction......

First thing in the morning before I start fishing, I observed a big bird. He (or she) was standing almost like a statue. I could tell it must be a species along the riparian area but not for sure its name. Would anyone please let me know?

Though I am catching a few trout a day, I seem to get some touches of this river. What I heard and read is that Yakima holds 600 - 800 trout per mile while some famous rivers in Montana, like Madison, hold 2000 - 3000 per mile. So at this point, every trout that came to my view and camera are worth. And fortunately, I have not seen any whitefish!!!!!

I will take advantages of winter time in Yakima in terms of low flow and less crowds. And hoping for 18 to 24" individuals that will pull my reel to the backing!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Winter Pastime Flies

January was really crazy for me mostly about the job. Now in February things seems to get settled as supposed to be. As in my last two posts, I could get out for some fishing and I have just found there are some more fun around here. Yet I still have a bit more slow and relaxing time. I'm waiting for a Regal vise to come any moment!

Meanwhile, I am reading lots of books and spending some relaxing time at my bench. Some serious tyings but also I think now is time to express some imagination!!

Valentine's Day is coming. A happy flower fly to you somewhere!!

Then I have just tied a gigantic Chernobyl Ant!!!

Actually it was tied with a safety pin just to play with......

It is simply fun to sit at my tying bench and mess with some materials every now and then. I have just placed the Chernobyl Ant onto my backpack so even other kinds of insects/bugs/terrestrials would get disgusted when they try to sneak behind me!!

Also hoping it might even protect me from buffaloes, bears, and misc in Yellowstone country.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My First Day at Yakima

Yesterday, Feb 1st, my objectives were: first to drop by one of the fly shops in Ellensburg, Worley Bugger, for information of Yakima. Mostly about the public land access so I don't get accused or shot. Certain spots and effective flies were welcome to hear also. Second to shop some materials and to order a Regal vise (yes!! I think my tying skills seems qualified to own one!!) there. Third to fish some in the afternoon. And finally to drive back home along Yakima Canyon Road before it gets too dark.

Tim at the shop is a very passionate person about his and fellow anglers' enthusiasm for fly-fishing. I didn't know the history of Yakima River and he was the main act of converting the Yakima to a catch-&-release fishery. I'd like to see more people like him around here.

A bit after 12:00 I grabed a Snickers bar, then I headed to an access where Tim pointed me. Though he did tell me exactly good looking spots, hatches, flies, etc, Yakima is such a big river. So my attitude was to observe first. See if he I can find where he told me and how it looks to my eyes.
There are lots of information and situations in my head. Most of waters look very good for streamers (I tied on some), some deep runs and holes for nymphs (stonefly and mayfly nymphs, caddis and midge larva, and also eggs and worms), and some good looking riffles to swing soft-hackles for midge and baetis hatches for this time of the year. There might be some dryfly fishing for midges and baetis too.
Well I didn't see any surface actions. I fished down-stream with streamers and soft-hackles as observing my surroundings. I didn't get any actions at all. I though it was still OK since my objective for yesterday was to learn and observe and I had to get home before it got too dark for driving the Canyon. So I fished up-stream with nymphs, that I consider the best when walking up-stream, at some spots I passed.
Since Yakima holds Rainbow, Cutthroat, and whitefish, I had a great confidence in my tying and selection of nymphs. $3 Serendipity is a catching machine for rainbow and whitefish in Madison River. I like this slim yet dignifying looking tied on the straight shank hook.

But yesterday, I somehow tied on this curved hook version. Whichever, this fly represents broad imitations. Mayfly nymphs, caddis/midge larva, or maybe a little aquatic worm.

This is the spot that really interested me for nymphing. My experience with nymph fishing at Madison River was lingering in my head. I cast some near-side from the main current to me and then cast to far-side beyond the current. It was a deep run but not wide so when I aimed the far-side, I did a high-stick rather than mending.

My Thingamabobber sank at the first cast to the far-side and I set the hook at "!" above. I first felt "hey I have just saved my day with whitefish, not so bad, I can go home". But it didn't fight like whitefish, instead I started to see some golden flash as I retrieve the line........

It was a beautiful and handsome buck Westslope cutthroat!!, measuring 16-inch.

Look at him. He took my $3 Serendipity confidentially in his mouth.

My first catch at Yakima was this very beautiful Westslope Cutty. It meant a lot to me. I love the native Westslope in my area, especially when coming up to my dryflies. Though certainly not the biggegst in the river, I didn't expect to see this kind till summer in Naches area.

I fished some more up-stream and walked back to my truck. I drove along the Canyon and checked out some access along as I planned. It was a very fruitful day.

I was told there are 18" to 24" rainbow in Yakima that really pull out our lines but it's hard to hook and land. It sounds like a very big challenge worth making efforts. I have hooked and fought some 16" to 18" rainbow in Madison River. Though I have caught bigger brown but rainbow's running is one of a kind regardless of its size.

I will try to get to Yakima once a week in February and March. Then I hit the road to Livingston, MT in April. I am sure I must develop some skills and knowledge by fishing Yakima. I might even have some days to fish Yakima after my Livinsgton trip before the run-off and the irrigation starts.

Hopefully I can provide more fishing reports with great pictures here!!

Yakima River Winter Plan - Introduction

I am really enjoying the mild winter here in eastern WA. I suddenly wanted to try Yakima River for the first time. I knew and everybody around me told me about fly-fishing in Yakima since I moved here. But it didn't seem to match me (vice versa). Floating is popular instead (I could use "because" here) that the wade-fishing seems limited. As far as I had driven through, it is because of private lands and water levels change by season. Yakima is one of the most irrigated rivers in the world. Furthermore, when I first made a driving, it was early July three summers ago (might have been on 4th of July), I saw lots of recreational floating people with bikinis or shorts. Also, water was way high and slightly brown. Indeed it seemed to serve for recreation better than for fishing. While in most of Western trout rivers, that time of the year is the prime season. So all the Yakima information from books and online seemed more like just ads. I recall all of these feelings made me plan to trips to Montana, especially for wild brown trout......

Other reason I couldn't put myself into the Yakima was the car expense. Driving my big F-150 (Big Fella) around costs a lot. Then my work/town car had been an old Subaru, which was not trusted for fishing. For this reason, I stopped exploring around here and rather saved fundings for Montana trips.

But last June the Subaru broke down and I bought a GMC Sonoma from my co-worker. It works pretty well for work and town with much less mileage than Big Fella now. I named it G.M. (Gallatin - Madison). It really looks like this.

Now here are several more feelings that have changed my views recently.
If I could, I wouldn't want to go to Rocky Ford. But my favorite waters in Naches are not fishable till summer. I don't want get bored in this mild winter. Finally, I felt if I put myself into it, I can do something because I've been making over 600 miles one way to Montana and catching trout there. And then I got tired of people around me (at here or when I go to Montana) keep asking me see if I fish Yakima. I say "no" and explain with a couple or several resaons above. Though I haven't really fished, I could easily tell the water level is low in the fall and winter for wade-fishing (no demands for irrigation). And I know most of the river is open-year-around.

I got all the perfect reasons and the perfect time that I have to get out!!!

Enough introduction!! I will write more about my first day.