Fly Fishing the Yakima
What feels like a lifetime ago, I was standing at the bow of a row boat with a swift fly rod in my hand scanning the Yakima for signs of life below the surface. Zach was in the same boat in a hooded sun shirt casting and carefully pulling out trout despite getting beat up by the life-altering canyon wind. The star of the show, though, was our friend Alex seated in the middle of the boat. Master of the crab row, nimble finger fly-tier, king of the seas, all knowing and all seeing of the trout inhabitants, all around good guy.
We drove out of Seattle on the dreariest of mornings. I suppose it wasn’t actually the most dreary ever as it was July and the weather is rumored to be remarkable in Seattle during this time. However, to a girl who depends on visibly differing four seasons, this was a disorienting July morning.
What I discovered an hour later is the physical symbiotic relationship of ocean, bays, sounds, mountains, sun, wind, the flow of the atmosphere that I do not understand. Once you get up over the tipping point of the mountains, you careen down the other side into the desert.
True desert. Sediment, rocks, brown dried-out bushes, and tumbleweed. It’s the strangest thing that the mountains just hoard all of the moisture to the Bay Area and don’t deposit any out here.
Ellensburg Angler exists tucked into this Pacific Northwest desert experience as a few guides and a trailer of gear that is parked alongside the teepees at the local KOA. We parked the car here, looked around, and tossed the boat into the water carelessly and away we went!
Casting is different in a good way than what I am used to. In the Driftless, we wade in and out and get worried constantly about the growth behind us tangling our flies. Alex moved us across and back across the river as we floated down, so casting was carefree (until the wind came for us).
This little island pit stop brought back the old memories of fishing the Driftless. You have to cast and recast as you stand in one place and the water scoots on by. So now I think boat life is the life. You cast and the boat moves with the flow of the water and this makes the whole process very easy.
And then we sailed through the Grand Canyon. And the canyon tackled us with high speed wind gusts for hours. Truly the rest of the day. And it was exhausting. And gave us a little (big) extra challenge of our seemingly easy casting set up. The wind of the Wild West is no place for a tiny 20 foot string and a micro sized stuffed animal on the end. Accuracy was little to none on my end, Zach fared better than I did though.
After a few more hours, we (read: Alex) pulled the boat off the river and searched for comfort in a campsite. This is where I began a new daydream of camping van life forever.
We set up our tents in 20 mph wind gusts and spent the rest of the evening huddled around the fire.
Day two was our reward for day one. Far less photos here because we were catching trout every few minutes. This portion of the Yakima is beautiful and sent us tinier gusts of wind.
The river water was clear and there were these wonderful deep swimming-looking holes with huge rocks. You know me, the body of water where I can see the bottom is the body of water for me.
And after I pulled out one last little guy, we (again, read: Alex) loaded up the boat and drove off! We crawled back up the desert hill and down the green side back toward Seattle.
We are so thankful that Alex loves fishing. And that he has a boat. And that he invited us to come with him! This was such a great experience and is so tempting to return to often.
Hire him!!! If you’re in the Seattle - Tacoma area, let us know, we will connect you!