Monday, March 28, 2011

So our up and down spring continues...

Well, theres not a whole lot to say besides I think were all a little sick and tired of this rain. It's officially spring, but it sure doesn't seem like it. The Yakima has been up and down, clean one day and dirty the next, but had been fishable every day until about 5 or 6 days ago. Some days we've had to work really hard for them, and some days they come a little easier. That's fishing. We've been on literally every stretch from Cle Elum to Roza over the last couple weeks before it blew out, and they were all fishing pretty well. Bobbers continue to rule, with some days bringing some good dry fly fishing. Streamer fishing, especially from the diversion up, proved effective. The typical fair, including Pats Stones, Worms in every size, shape, and color, small lightning bugs and PT's, midges, and various sculpin and zonkers have worked. As for dries, lots of patterns have worked, anything from big foam junk to realistic, low riding patterns, just depends on the day. The river is currently on the drop but still a few days out at least. 2800 cfs at Cle Elum and a little over 7000 cfs at Umtanum, cut those both in half and we'll think about fishing it again. But I imagine as soon as it comes back, BWO's and March Browns will be around. So think about tying up your Soft Hackle PT's, CDC PT's, March Brown Spiders, red and black Copper Johns, Lightning Bugs, and any of your other favorite mayfly nymphs in #12-14 for the browns and #16-18 for the BWO's. For dries, your standard March brown and BWO parachutes will work, along with some quigley style cripples and you're good to go. Just a friendly reminder, always be cautious and safe when floating the river. If you are unfamiliar with a stretch, always ask about blockages or tight spots. Even think about hiring a guide to show you a stretch and places to be careful. There are a couple of pretty tight spots on the upper river around cle elum, particularly just above and below the East Cle Elum boat launch. There are also one or two tight spots down in the farmlands. Don't hesitate to give us a call, or any shop for that matter, and ask about a particular stretch. Especially after the high water event the last week, you can guarantee some stuff has shifted around in the river, new blockages are very likely, and stretches you thought you knew can be totally different. No matter how good you are or think you are on the sticks, its always good to be prepared for what is coming. There are always a few who flip their boats, lose all their gear, and people drown on a regular basis. Don't be that guy(or gal).

Well, I'm getting out of here for the rest of the week. Sometimes the urge to leave and go fishing hits, and there's no satisfying it until you do. The Missouri is one of my all time favorite places to fish, and I try to fish it a few times a year. For those of you that have fished it, you know how good it is. For those that haven't, I highly encourage you to visit. Its just a quick hour and a half over the hill from Missoula, and being a tailwater, you can always count on stable river conditions. By no means is it peak season over there; the water is still cold, weather has been wacky, but reports are that the nymphing and streamer fishing has been avg-great depending on the day, and a little bit of midge action on the surface has made an appearance on the calmer, cloudier days. The bonus of going this time of year is it should be a lonely river, especially mid week. We should have Wi-fi, so for those of you that follow the blog, we'll try to update every night with a short report and photos of some big browns and rainbows(hopefully).

Thanks for reading


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Montana Stream Access Law Preserved

You may or may not know but Huey Lewis (of The News) and other large scale landowners have been leveling attacks on Montana's Stream Access Law that designates all river corridors as public property. The point of most recent contention rests along Mitchell Slough in the Bitterroot Valley. The issue however, applies across the state and now another precedent has been set as HB309 the potential revision of the law that would have restricted angler access to many rivers was defeated in the Senate yesterday. A host of anglers in Montana and elsewhere sounded the alarm and anglers from far and wide wrote, called and showed up to express their opposition. Awesome! -BW

Read more about it here:

Saturday, March 19, 2011


This graph lists the snow water equivalent in the mountains for this year. This gives you an assessment of the snowpack and Overall looks like we're in pretty good shape for water. I can't post the graph now here on the blog for some reason. HTML error or something? I don't know. Anyway, check it here. -BW

Friday, March 18, 2011

Yakima update: The water has been up and down and mostly brownish the last week. And cold too. Right when the Skwala dryfly fishing kicked off we had a delay of game due to inclimate weather and now the water temps are back down sub 40 degrees. The good news is she's leveled out and now dropping and clearing. So the weekend it should be well worth your attention. The dryfly game will be back next week in force. Look for about 42 degrees. The nymphing will pick back up no matter what. Rubberlegs in black, brown/tan, brown/black and olive. San Juan Worms all across the board for a dropper. Not much mayfly activity yet though the BWO's should be moving soon. Below are a two photos from a couple weeks ago, I don't know why Josh is so happy touching me but they're a couple of nice fish at least. Get to it! -BW

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dry Fly Time!

Well folks, it appears as though the time has finally come. SKWALA TIME ON THE YAK! Ok, before you get too excited there are a couple of catches. Some of our lousy weather has managed its way over to the eastside over the last few days, causing the river to rise and dirty a little bit, especially below Wilson Creek. Where will our early skwala dry fly fishing likely take place? Yes that's correct, primarily below Wilson Creek and down in the canyon. Water temps are primed, there are some bugs, and the trout are trying to look up, however it seems to us that the last few days of off color water has prevented the dry fly fishing from taking off. Can you still get 'em on a dry in dirty water? You certainly can. Will you crush 'em? Maybe, maybe not. 

So if you have been chomping at the bit for some early season dry fly fishing, well it is the time. Are the conditions as perfect as we would like? Not really for throwing the dry. If you like to nymph, then it's great. If you like to do both, that's even better. Just remember, go out with an open mind, maybe have a nymph rig as well as a dry fly rod. If your really into it, maybe a 3rd rod rigged with a streamer. Maybe nymph your spots and prospect with a dry on the go. Maybe even run a worm under your big foamy homebrew skwala, especially when fishing those skinny banks that your nymph rig always seems to hang up in.  When the conditions are less then ideal, remember to slow it down, fish smart, fish methodically, and if you aren't getting 'em, switch it up. "It" could mean a lot of things: bugs, weight, depth, water type, and the list goes on and on, but the bottom line is that the fish didn't go anywhere. Switch it up. 

Well that's our 2 cents for the day. We had a lot of folks by the shop this week headed out to the Yak this weekend. We hope you got 'em. If you didn't, maybe reading this will have you better prepared for your next outing. We'll keep you posted as conditions change.

Remember, we're running our March Madness Skwala Specials. $300 for a full day of fishing. The same as any other guide trip except you bring your own lunch. This means flies, shuttle, tippet, equipment, and your guides wisdom are included. These trips will run through the end of the month. Call us at the shop for more info.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

OP and Yak Reports

So Brett made it back from the coast just before everything blew out. He bounced around on the Bogey, Hoh, and Clearwater. The weather held in, and the rivers were in great shape. Five solid days of guiding, fish hooked on the swing, fish hooked on the nymph, what more can you ask for?
As for me, I was out on Sunday with Jamie and John on the Yakima. We fished in the farmlands section, and it was perfect day around 50 degrees and barely a breath of wind. No skwala dry action to speak of yet. We didn't throw the dry on the go, though we did throw it at a couple of midge eaters to no avail. The fish are still on the stone and worm program, however they were starting to come off the worms a bit and more towards the stone. Water temps were fluctuating between 38 and 42 degrees, which is prime for the skwala nymph to become more active. There was a decent midge hatch mid-day as well. Any day now the bugs will be hatching and we'll be throwing the dry, it's just a matter of a couple warm nights to get it going. I heard a rumor of some decent dry fly activity yesterday afternoon in the canyon, so who knows, maybe it's started already, ya never know until you get out there and give it a shot. Below is John with a couple of solid yakima trout. Thanks guys for a fun day.
Pats Stone #10, #12
Twenty Incher #8. #10
Mercer's Skwala #10
John's Skwala #10
Worms #10, #14
WD40 Olive, Black #18
Brassie Red #18, #20


Friday, March 4, 2011

We're in the Middle of It

So as the title indicates, we're in the middle of it. Reports from the Forks area streams have been very good. The Hoh, Bogey, Sol Duc, Calawah, Queets, among others have fish throughout. Brett is over guiding in Forks for the next few days, so hopefully he'll give me up to date reports through the weekend. Our head guide Chris will be there as well. The Grays Harbor area rivers have been producing quite well too. Swinging or nymphing, the fish are there and there is plenty of fun to be had. After all that is the point right? To have fun? For me it is.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of fishing with a good buddy Andrew on a Grays Harbor area river. We've spent many days fishing together over the last few years, but the last 6 months or so have found it difficult to get out. He's a very good angler, and was rewarded on this day by hooking a good number of fish. We had a blast despite the snow, hail, rain, and 30 mph gusts blowing through. It felt like Montana in March, the weather changing every 20 minutes. Here are a couple from the day.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Mostly Highs

WDFW just released 2011 salmon forecasts and despite the overall state of the Puget Sound being poor there are more highs than lows. It's a Humpy year folks and we're looking at another solid performance. They're calling for 6 million returning to the Sound so there'll be plenty to go around. The Chinook forecast is slightly stronger and the coho forecast is just shy of a million. The fishing can't be much weaker than last year so I'll be looking forward to that. The ever pathetic Sockeye fishery looks so-so but not enough for a fishery.

The Columbia Chinook forecast looks good too and though no numbers have been released that is an indicator of steelhead returns too so pray for another good year in the Columbia/Snake Basin, we've been spoiled lately.

Don't worry friends good weather and SPRING! is almost back and this should just get you more revved up to fish now! Read more below. -BW

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

March 1, 2011

Contact: Pat Pattillo, (360) 902-2705

Strong runs of Columbia River chinook,
Puget Sound coho and pink salmon projected

OLYMPIA - Fishing prospects look bright this year for chinook in Washington’s ocean waters and the Columbia River, according to preseason salmon forecasts released today at a public meeting in Olympia.

Opportunities for anglers also look good in Puget Sound, where coho and pink salmon runs are expected to be strong this year.

Forecasts for chinook, coho, sockeye, pink and chum salmon mark the starting point for developing 2011 salmon-fishing seasons in Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington coastal areas. The forecasts were developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty Indian tribes.

Fishery managers have scheduled a series of public meetings over the next few weeks to discuss potential fishing opportunities before finalizing seasons in mid-April.

A meeting schedule, salmon forecasts and information about the salmon season-setting process are available on WDFW’s website at .

Phil Anderson, WDFW director, said department staff will work closely with tribal co-managers and constituents to develop fisheries that meet conservation objectives and provide fishing opportunities on abundant runs of wild and hatchery fish.

"We will continue to design fishing seasons that not only meet conservation goals for salmon, but also minimize impacts to other species," said Anderson. "It is important that we take into account the entire ecosystem when managing our fisheries."

Anderson noted that state budget reductions are also a factor in designing fisheries that can be managed effectively with a reduced staff. State general-fund support for WDFW was reduced by 30 percent in the current budget and is expected to drop even further over the next two years.

As in past years, salmon-fishing prospects in 2011 vary by area:

  • Columbia River: About 760,000 fall chinook are expected to return to the Columbia River this season. That’s about 112,000 more chinook than last year’s return and would constitute the fifth largest run since 1948, said Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy coordinator for WDFW.
    More than half of the chinook forecast - about 398,000 salmon - is expected to be "upriver brights" headed to the Hanford Reach area and the Snake River. That would be the second largest run of upriver brights since 1964, when fishery managers began keeping records, said LeFleur.
    "This should be a good year for upriver brights, which provide some of the best in-river fishing opportunities for anglers," LeFleur said.
    While the chinook run is expected to be up, the forecast of 362,500 Columbia River coho is similar to last year’s projection.
  • Washington’s ocean waters: Anglers can expect an ocean fishery for chinook and coho salmon this summer similar to that in 2010, said Doug Milward, ocean salmon fishery manager for WDFW.

"Last year, fishing was good for chinook and fair for coho," said Milward. "The number of salmon available for this summer’s ocean fishery is expected to be similar to last year, so anglers should see another good year of fishing."

Nearly 250,000 hatchery chinook are expected to return this year to the lower Columbia River. Those salmon, known as "tules," traditionally have been the backbone of the recreational ocean chinook fishery. The 362,500 coho salmon bound for the Columbia River also account for a significant portion of the ocean catch.

  • Puget Sound: Coho and pink salmon returns to Puget Sound are expected to be strong this year. About 980,000 coho are forecast to return to Puget Sound streams, about 367,000 more fish than last year’s forecast.

In addition, nearly 6 million pink salmon are expected to return to Puget Sound this year. That forecast is 3 million salmon below 2009’s record return but still an abundant run, said Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager for WDFW. Most pink salmon return to Washington’s waters only in odd-numbered years.

"This is shaping up to be a really good year in Puget Sound for both coho and pink salmon," said Thiesfeld, who noted that an additional 17 million pink salmon are forecast to return to Canada’s Fraser River this year. "A portion of those Fraser River fish will make their way through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands boosting opportunities for Washington anglers."

Summer/fall chinook salmon returns to Puget Sound are expected to total about 243,000 fish, slightly higher than last year’s projection of 226,000. Most chinook fisheries in Puget Sound likely will be similar to last year, said Thiesfeld. However, fishing opportunities in the Green (Duwamish) River and Elliott Bay could be limited by a low forecast of wild chinook, he said.

Thiesfeld said a Lake Washington sockeye fishery is unlikely this year. The sockeye forecast is about 34,600, well below the minimum return of 350,000 sockeye needed to consider opening a recreational fishery in the lake.

State, tribal and federal fishery managers will meet March 5-10 in Vancouver, Wash., with the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) to develop options for this year’s commercial and recreational ocean chinook and coho salmon fisheries. The PFMC establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast.

Additional public meetings have been scheduled in March to discuss regional fishery issues. Input from these regional discussions will be considered as the season-setting process moves into the "North of Falcon" and PFMC meetings, which will determine the final 2011 salmon seasons.

The PFMC is expected to adopt final ocean fishing seasons and harvest levels at its April 9-14 meeting in San Mateo, Calif. The 2011 salmon fisheries package for Washington’s inside waters will be completed by the state and tribal co-managers during the PFMC’s April meeting.