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Low flows, slow fishing mark Yakima springer opener

FISHING — Wishing was slow for lower Yakima River anglers out last weekend for the May 2 opening of spring chinook fishing.

Flows averaged 1,800cfs and fishing was slow for both salmon and bass, said Paul Hoffarth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist. 

Here's the rest of his Yakima River report:

WDFW staff interviewed 79 anglers fishing for salmon in the lower Yakima River that reported one hatchery adult chinook harvested and one wild adult chinook released.  An additional 24 anglers were interviewed that were fishing for smallmouth bass and channel catfish that reported 15 smallmouth bass caught. 

The lower Yakima River from the Highway 240 bridge in Richland (river mile 2.1) to the Grant Avenue bridge in Prosser (river mile 47.0) opened to fishing for hatchery spring Chinook on May 2.  The fishery will remain open through June 15.

A second section of the Yakima River from the Interstate 82 bridge at Union Gap (river mile 107.1) to the BNSF railroad bridge approximately 600 feet downstream of Roza Dam (river mile 127.8) will open on May 9.  Daily limit is two hatchery chinook, minimum size of 12 inches.  Terminal gear is restricted to two, single-point, barbless hooks when fishing for salmon. Use of bait is allowed. Anglers must have the Columbia River salmon/steelhead endorsement in addition to a freshwater fishing license to fish for salmon in the Yakima River.  The use of two fishing poles is permitted during the salmon fishery provided the participating angler has purchased a “Two-Pole Endorsement.” 

Hatchery salmon are identified by a missing adipose fin and a healed scar in the location of the missing fin.  Wild salmon (adipose fin intact) must be immediately released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.

Fly fishing clinics on Yakima River Saturday at Red’s Rendezvous

FISHING — The annual Red's Rendezvous along the Yakima River, set for Saturday, April 25, has an attractive schedule of events and seminars to lure fly fishers from across the state.

The event will run 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Red's Fly Shop and Lodge south of Ellensburg, 14706 Highway 821 near mile marker 15.

You might even plan to fish the Yakima River while you're there.

Fly casting and Spey rodding clinics are planned for all levels, some especially for kids and women, plus live music, food and prices. 

Indoor and outdoors seminars will cover knot tying, fly tying, fly fishing for bass and planning exotic fly fishing trips to Cuba, Christmas Island and Ascension Bay.

The event features live music by Zach Hinson.

Cost: $5.

BLM opens Yakima Canyon camping to online reservations

CAMPING — Camping reservations for BLM sites in the Yakima River Canyon Recreation Area have moved to the national online and telephone system that allows visitors to book a spot up to six months in advance.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s this week moved the Umtanum, Lmuma Creek, Big Pines and Roza sites in the Yakima River Canyon the the national public lands reservation system at www.recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777.

The reservations apply to the regular fee season, May 15 - Sept. 15.

Reservations can be made up to six months in advance but no less than 48 hours of the desired arrival date. During the off-season (Sept. 16-May 14), camping is free and no reservations are necessary. Camping rates are $15 per night. 

Day-use permits will continue to be purchased at onsite self-pay registration stations. A seasonal day-use permit sticker is also available for purchase from the BLM Wenatchee Field Office, the Ellensburg and Yakima Chambers of Commerce and at Red’s Fly Shop in the Yakima River Canyon. Day-use rates are $5 per vehicle.

The www.recreation.gov website is managed by the National Recreation Reservation Service, a partnership between federal land management agencies to provide reservation services for facilities and activities on public lands.


Idaho whitewater river trip reservations applications are due SATURDAY, Jan. 31, for the Salmon, Middle Fork Salmon, Selway and Hells Canyon Snake Rivers.


Coho fishing extended on middle Yakima River

FISHING — The fishing season for coho salmon — both hatchery and wild fish — is being extended to Nov. 16 in the “middle” Yakima River, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says.

The season extension is for the section of river from the Interstate 82 bridge at Union Gap to the “closed water” line 3,500 feet downstream of Roza Dam

Reason for action:  A record return of coho salmon is returning to the upper Yakima River with more than 20,000 counted passing Prosser Dam through Nov. 3. Yakama Nation and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists agree that sufficient harvestable surplus is available to provide a one-week extension of this fishing opportunity.

Other information:

  • Daily limit of two (2) coho (wild or hatchery)
  • Barbless hooks are required (single-point or multiple-point allowed)
  • During this fishery, the “Selective Gear Rules” prohibiting use of bait and knotted nets is temporarily suspended.
  • Night closure in effect.
  • Fishing for trout and other gamefish closed on October 31 by permanent rule.
  • Fishing for steelhead remains closedAll steelhead (rainbow trout greater than 20” in total length) must be immediately released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.
  • A Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement is required to participate in this salmon fishery.
  • Fishing from boats equipped with an internal combustion motor (ICM) is allowed only from the I-82 Bridge at Union Gap to the east-bound (upstream) I-82 bridge at Selah Gap. Boats with an ICM may be used for “transportation only” upstream of the Selah Gap Bridge.
  • Closed to fishing year-round for all species 400 feet upstream from the upstream side of the Yakima Ave./Terrace Heights Rd. bridge in Yakima, including the area adjacent and downstream of the Roza Wasteway No. 2 fish barrier rack next to Morton & Sons Inc.

Yakima river section closed to float fishing

FISHING Starting Saturday, Sept. 20, a 1.25-mile section of the lower Yakima River in Prosser will be closed to fishing from any floating device, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says.

The river from the Grant Ave. Bridge in Prosser downstream approximately 1.25 miles to the downstream side of the westbound Interstate 82 Bridge will be closed until Oct. 22.

Reason for action:  This section of the Yakima River is adjacent to the Yakama Nation’s Prosser Fish Hatchery where over 2 million fall chinook smolts are released annually.  Returning adult salmon congregate in this terminal area and attract many anglers during the Yakima River fall salmon season that is open through October 22. During the peak fishing period (late Sept. through Oct. 22), as many as 75 bank anglers may be fishing at one time from the north (left) and south (right) shoreline. The river at this location is narrow (50 – 100 feet wide) and will not accommodate bank anglers casting from shore and boat anglers who anchor in mid-channel. Limiting fishing in this reach to bank angling prevents conflicts between boat and bank anglers.

Other information:

  • Daily limit of six salmon (hatchery or wild); up to two adults.  Minimum size - 12 inches.
  • Night Closure is in effect. Barbless hooks are required.
  • Fishing for steelhead remains closed.  All steelhead (rainbow trout greater than 20” in total length) must be immediately released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.
  • A Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement is required to participate in this fishery.

Yakima River salmon fishing opens Saturday

FISHING — The upper section of the Yakima River will open for hatchery spring chinook fishing on Saturday, May 17.

 With the spring chinook fishery in the lower Yakima River just getting under way, a section of the river farther upstream will open to fishing from the Interstate 82 Bridge at Union Gap to the railroad bridge below Roza Dam.

Spring chinook have been moving into the lower river in increasing numbers, and should provide fishing opportunities in the upper river when that area opens for fishing, said John Easterbrooks, regional fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Read on for all the detail from the the WDFW:

Yakima River blows out; fly fishers look elsewhere

FISHING — Bad timing on my part…. My story about fly fishing the Yakima River's skwala stonefly hatch was published on Sunday, a few days after the river blew out and became unfishable.

With the rivers still high on Sunday, even the guides from Ellensburg Angler were posting photos of being with their families at Columbia Basin Lakes, which are in prime condition for trout fishing this month.

Says Mike Canada of Ellensburg Angler:

The Yakima river is still out of shape unfortunately, we have been out scouting some other fisheries. Stefan has been out chasing carp, and bass in the basin area, while Caiden and I have been camping and chasing trout in the seep lakes area…. Enjoy this beautiful weather we are getting right now.


Red’s Rendezvous V lures big names for clinics

FLY FISHING — The fifth annual Red's Rendezvous is stacking up to be a major fly fishing event that's attracting anglers from far and wide for clinics, competition and participation.

And, if the offering's at the Red's Fly Shop and Canyon Ranch on the shores of the Yakima River don't impress you, the Yakima's skwala hatch is going strong.

Here's  a summary of what's going on outdoors at the Rendezvous:

  • Pacific Northwest Fly Casting Championship, with proceeds going to the Yakima Kid's Fish-in Event.
  • Dry Line and Dry Fly Steelhead Fishing with Spey Rods by Brian Silvey.
  • Switch Rod Casting Seminar by George Cook.
  • Guide Style Nymph Fishing Strategies by the Reds Fly Shop Staff.
  • Steelhead Fishing for NEWBIES by Steve Joyce.
  • European Style Nymph Fishing — on the river — by Russell Miller of Team USA Fly Fishing.  
  • Learn to Double Haul Fly Cast by the Reds Fly Shop Staff.

Plus raffles for top-flight Sage rods, Putt-Putt fly casting challenges for prizes, a Youth BB Gun Shooting Range and horseback trips.


  •  IF4 Fly Fishing Film Festival showing at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Fly Tying - All Day!
  • Upper Missouri:The Land of Giants!  by Mike Agee.
  • The Fly Fishing Mecca…  Sounds Like Christmas Island  by Jon Covich.
  • Ascension Bay Flats Fishing by Joe Rotter.
  • Strategies for DIY anglers Fishing for Big Trout on Eastern Washington Lakes by George Cook.
  • Support The Yakima Canyon Scenic Byway.


Yakima trout are looking up for skwalas

FLY FISHING — A full day of field research on Thursday confirmed that trout are alert to skawala stoneflies tumbling along the bottom of the Yakima River.  

By about 1 p.m., the rainbows and cutthroats are ready to ambush the scattered adults floating downstream on the surface — or dry fly patters than simulate the aquatic insects.

David Moershel and I had a productive float with Stefan Woodruff of Ellensburg Angler. We caught numerous rainbows, cutthroats and two whitefish in the Canyon Section of the river south of Ellensburg.

Even when the wind came up in the afternoon — and our casting was less that pretty — Woodruff was able to put us in position to catch fish right up to the end when we pulled out at Roza.

Woodruff says the action usually switches over to March Browns by mid-April.

But for now, his Skwalameister Patterns rule!

  • Ellensburg Angler, (509) 607-1804, has been running a $199 early-season special for two anglers!


Fishing ends today on Yakima’s record fall chinook run

FISHING — It's been one heck of a ride for Yakima River fall chinook anglers.  Here's the latest report Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist Paul Hoffarth as the Lower Yakima River season is scheduled to close today, Oct. 22:

The fall salmon fishery in the lower Yakima River is coming to a close. The last day of fishing is Tuesday, October 22, 2013.  WDFW staff interviewed 260 anglers between October 14th and 20th.  Anglers reported harvesting 102 adult Chinook, 4 jacks, and 1 coho.  An estimated 821 adult fall Chinook, 29 jacks, and 4 coho were harvested this past week from 1,961 angler trips.

For the season, 7,903 anglers trips have been taken and 2,478 adult Chinook, 342 chinook jacks, and 87 coho have been harvested.  This year’s harvest breaks the record of 2,300 fall Chinook set in 2002 when over 13,000 fall Chinook returned to the Yakima River.

Fall chinook stampeding up Columbia system

SALMON FISHING — The huge run of fall chinook forecast for the Columbia and Snake rivers got a booming start last week.

In a three-day stretch last week, nearly 85,000 fall chinook moved up over Bonneville, with almost 34,000 of those coming up river on Friday tapering to a rush of 27,000 on Monday.

Steelhead and coho also are in the mix, boosting the counts of quality fishing potential even higher.

Fishing writer Rob Phillips says anglers already have been nailing these fish at the mouth of the Klickitat and the mouth of the Deschutes rivers.

The bulk of the fishery is headed for the Hanford Reach of the Columbia, but Phillips details other hot spots up through the Tri-Cities in the upper Columbia in his Yakima Herald—Republic column.

Yakima River stonefly action ready to peak, fly fishing guides say

FLY FISHING — I'm ready to take a few days off, but I'll leave this parting thought to help fly fishers decide what they should be doing with their free time in the next week or two:

Caddis action on the Yakima River has been good in recent weeks, but the insect hatch that makes the Yakima River a standout among the greatest trout rivers in the West is going to peak in the next two weeks.

The Yakima's summer stonefly hatch — triggered later than natural river stonefly hatches in part because of increased irrigation flows — rivals any stonefly hatch in the country, with incredible big dry fly action in the wee hours, according to the guides at Red's Fly Shop south of Ellensburg.

Read on for details from Red's. 

Yakima River sections opening to spring chinook fishing

FISHING – Two sections of the Yakima River will open next week to fishing for hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced.

Starting Wednesday (May 15), the lower Yakima River will open to fishing for hatchery spring chinook from the Interstate 182 Bridge in Richland to the Grant Avenue Bridge in Prosser.

On Saturday (May 18), the upper Yakima River will open from the Interstate 82 Bridge at Union Gap to the railroad bridge below Roza Dam.

John Easterbrooks, regional WDFW fish program manager, said the lower river is expected to remain open through June 30, while fishing in the upper section will likely continue through July 15.

“Springers are running late this year, but they’re finally moving into the Yakima River,” said Easterbrooks, noting that state and tribal fishery managers are predicting a return of approximately 3,000 adult hatchery chinook to the Yakima River.

Read on for more perspective and details from WDFW.

Comment closes Tuesday on Washington fishing rule proposals

FISHING —  An update on proposed changes to sportfishing rules will be presented by state fish managers to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at its Feb. 8-9 meeting in Olympia.  See the preliminary meeting agenda here.

Fishing rule proposals affecting Eastern Washington angling include:

  • Liberalizing limits for bass, walleye and channel catfish in the main stem and tributaries of the Snake and Columbia rivers, including Lake Roosevelt.
  • Changing regulations on motorized boats on the Yakima and lower Grande Ronde.
  • Prohibiting use of internal combustion motors at Yocum Lake in Pend Oreille County.
  • Converting North Silver Lake in Spokane County to a year-round fishery for warmwater species.
  • Prohibiting trout fishing in Methow River stretches to protect steelhead.

Public comments on the proposals are being accepted on the agency’s website through Tuesday (Jan. 29).

The commisison is set to vote on the proposals at a March 1-2 meeting.

Yakima River spring chinook fishing opens Wednesday

SALMON FISHING — Two sections of the Yakima River will open this week to fishing for hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon, under regulations announced late this afternoon by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Wednesday, May 16, the lower Yakima River will open to fishing for hatchery spring chinook from the Interstate 182 Bridge in Richland to the Grant Avenue Bridge in Prosser.

Saturday, May 19, the salmon fishery will expand to the upper Yakima River from the Interstate 82 Bridge at Union Gap to the railroad bridge below Roza Dam.

John Easterbrooks, regional WDFW fish program manager, said the lower river is expected to remain open through June 30, while fishing in the upper section will likely continue through July 31.

“The springers are running late this year, but they’re finally moving into the Yakima River,” said Easterbrooks, noting that fishery managers are predicting a return of approximately 5,000 adult hatchery chinook to the Yakima River.

Read on for details.

Patience, fly fishers: skwala hatch coming soon

FLY FISHING — Weather put a chill on the Yakima skwala hatch today.

Scored with Pat's Rubberlegs under an indicator, though.

Dry flies ready… and waiting for a week, more likely two.


Yakima River spring chinook fishing extended

SALMON FISHING —  Fish managers are extending the fishing season for hatchery spring chinook heading up the Yakima River, since high, turbid flows have been thwarting the regular season action.

The season will extend through July.

Read on for details from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department release issued Thursday.

Yakima River spring chinook fishing opens Friday

SALMON FISHING The Yakima Reservation boundary reach of the Yakima River will open to spring chinook fishing on Friday, the Washington Fish and Wildlfie Department announced this afternoon.

The season is set to run through June 30.

Read on for details.

Yakima River salmon anglers face triple whammy

SALMON FISHING — The 2011 Yakima River spring chinook season had great potential.

The fish took their sweet time heading upriver, but about two weeks ago, some of the fish that had climbed over McNary Dam arrived in the Yakima and started running over Prosser Dam by the hundreds.

But their arrive coincided with rain on snow that sent the river into a torrent.

The Yakima River is so swollen with runoff that it’s “going to be pretty much blown for the next few weeks,” sighed Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife enforcement officer Alan Baird in a story written by Scott Sandsberry of the Yakima Herald-Republic.

“Now, even when the rain stops we’ll warm up,” Baird said, “and we’re going to have all that snowmelt coming down.”

The third and final body blow: That stretch just downriver from the closed area just below Roza Dam — which has become oh-so-popular with bank anglers in recent years — is now virtually unreachable on foot, at least legally, Sandberry reports.

Read on for the details.

Yakima River spring chinook fishing to open Saturday

FISHING — Fishing seasons for hatchery spring chinook salmon were set today on two sections of the Yakima River, the first of which will open Saturday.

Read on for all the details released this afternoon by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department

Yakima River fly fishing report

FLY FISHING — Here's the weekly Yakima River Fishing Report from Jim Gallagher of Troutwater Fly Shops in Cle Elum and Ellensburg:
The skwala stones continued to be the most dominate insect on the Yakima River this past week.  We have also seen blue wing olives hatch in the early afternoon.  
Most success has been subsurface using a dropper system with a size eight or ten brown and beige color skwala nymph and either a small mayfly nymph or a San Juan worm dropper. 
In the afternoon, when the temperatures warm, there have seen adult skwalas on the water surface creating the possibility for some dry fly action.  The adults tend to be more active on the Yakima in the Ellensburg area. 
Overall, fishing and catching has been good throughout the river system, despite non-optimal water clarity.  The water flows are great for floating and a little high for wading.  The water clarity is off color starting below the Teanaway River and continueing into the lower canyon. 
It seems as if every little tributary through the Kittitas Valley is full with snow melt water.  We expect the dry fly fishing to be great over the next few weeks as the temperatues warm.

Angler do-it-yourself on Yakima River

FLY FISHING — Jeff Mayor knows the advantages of fishing with guides, especially in a drift boat on unfamiliar stretches of river.  But he and two buddies had a great time recently fishing on their own in a rented drift boat on the Yakima River. 

They even caught some trout!

Here's the cheat sheet from the outdoor writer's Tacoma News Tribune story to help other anglers do the same.
Where: Yakima River
Costs: At Red’s Fly Shop, south of Ellensburg, drift boats are $169 per day, rafts are $159 per day and pontoon boats are $60 per day. Note that the pontoon boat fee does not include shuttle service.
Preparation: Give yourself plenty of time. That means beginning at the shop to take care of paperwork. Also, allot enough time for being on the water. A popular float is from the Ringer ramp to Red’s, about 10 miles. That will take at least eight hours, including time to do some wade fishing.
While not required, it’s not a bad idea to end your trip at the shop. All you have to do is tie off the boat to a post and head home, giving you more time to spend fishing. Otherwise you have to arrange for a time to meet the shuttle back to the shop.
Load: A drift boat only has so much cargo space, so combine as many gear bags and coolers as you can.
Timing: Rivers flows are lower in the late fall to spring, making it easier to row. But you also might hit some low spots. Summer flows are raised for downstream irrigation. That makes for faster water and faster trips.
Information and reservations: Red's Fly Shop, (509) 933-2300.