Spring Fishing on the Yakima River

Yakima River Rainbow Trout

Spring fishing on the Yakima River can be some of the best fishing you can experience and the very next day be your worst.  I have always told my clients that Spring fishing is day to day and while we experience a lot of inconsistency there is a general pattern we follow.  As guides, we are studying the river flow graphs daily as well as the weather to gather information on what kind of day we will have tomorrow.

Generally, depending on weather and snowpack, we will experience the river bumping up and down during the months of March-May.  From June-February we generally have pretty straight forward flows with the exception of a few bumps and drops excluding the flip-flop. 

What we look for when we check on conditions are:

Spring Fishing
  • Temperature bumps or drops during the day-While a bump in cold temperatures can be good, this can also mean snow melt which will drop our water temperatures and slow fishing. A drop can have the same effect on a previous warmer day.  The bugs and fish may not be moving and feeding on a day that is significantly colder than the day before.  Also, this is an indicator on what kind of water the fish will be in.  Colder temperatures mean that the fish will most likely move into the slower water.
  • Temperature bumps or drops during the night-A lot of times during the early Spring we may see temperatures in the 50’s which many would think that the warmer temperatures would melt the lowland snow and blow out the river.  This is correct but when our nighttime temperatures are in the 20’s this offsets the highs and instead of a blowout we get an even runoff where the river takes minor rises and falls.  Also, something to note about runoff is that not all the snow makes it into the river.  A lot of the time the snow will fill the underground aquifers that are often running pretty dry and never make it to the river. 
  • River bumps and drops-Most of the time this coincides with the weather.  A high dirty river can put the fish up on the banks looking for adult Skwala’s or worms under an indicator.  A low clear river can put them on adult mayflies or nymph patterns.  Generally in low, clear water, the fish are going to be a little leery and you may have to work the water a little harder to induce a eat.

Spring fishing on the Yakima River I have had some of my most epic days on the river and the very next day had some of my toughest days. 

Depending on the weather conditions and section of the river, we will find fish in the fast and riffly seams or the slow, walking speed water.  Generally speaking the lower canyon gets the hatch first and the hatch works its way up river.  This is because the lower river has warmer water so the insects get moving earlier down river.  During the Summer this causes a negative affect on the fish as the water temperatures climb the fishing is generally better on the upper river where the water is cooler. 

As guides, we make sure that we are well in tune to the river and the weather conditions in order to give our clients the best day possible.  We look at condition’s multiple times a day in order to get a feel for what the river and fish are going to do for any specific day.  Studying conditions doesn’t beat experience on the water though.  Being on the water just about everyday gives you the ability to find fish in the process of moving and changing their diet.  During the Spring on the Yakima this is a necessity in order to be successful day to day.

Check out our Hatch Page.

See the River flows in Ellensburg Here.