Written by: Chuck Coolidge
What do you do when you’re upland bird hunting in Washington State but need to give the dogs a rest (this applies to your feet as well as the actual animals)? It’s an easy solution. Drive twenty minutes to the Yakima River, and experience the same amazing waterfront views Lewis and Clark first saw in 1805. Only you can one-up them by renting a drift boat or hire a guide to pilot you downstream.
One of the most difficult issues we find in these types of trips is that we focus too much on the lines in the water. All too often, we forget to take a second and lift our heads to enjoy the landscape, wildlife, and incredible views these locations have to offer.
Today was a bit different, with a high of 36 degrees, where we had plenty of opportunities to take a couple breaks to warm our fingers, refill our mugs, and clear the ice from guides of our fly rods.
During these warming sessions we were lucky enough to see bald eagles, white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, and about ten jake Merriam’s turkeys watching us as we waded one of the river bends.
Yes, all of this, and I haven’t even mentioned the fishing yet. Within five minutes of launching the boat and fishing streamers downstream, we were tight to rainbow trout. Around noon, we switched to nymphing rigs with blue-winged olive imitations at about six feet deep to find the cold, slower-moving fish.
If you find yourself trout-fishing in November, you might get a bit more fight than you’re expecting. There are steelhead making their way upstream, and if you’re lucky enough to hook one, you’ll know it. Be patient and let them run; if you don’t, you will hear the heartbreaking snap of your leader.
Braving the elements on the longest river in Washington State was a lot of fun, and it provided a welcome change of pace from our upland hunting. I highly recommend it.
Chuck Coolidge lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and travels a lot to feed his fly-fishing passion.