Month: August 2013

The rare, respectable fish of the Yakima River.

Depending on whom is queried, the Yakima River is either a diamond or a chunk of coal. Suffice it to say she has never particularly kind to me.

Merry Christmas from the Yakima River

It wasn’t always that way, mind you. In fact she lured me in with false sense of hope several years ago the first time I fished her. On this fateful day I landed a nice 16″ rainbow in a well-known foam line just below the bridge at Umtanum. Within minutes my buddy Jimmy landed a similarly-sized bow in nearly the same spot. We both naively believed that the river would be this easy—this good to us every time. And thus began my love/hate relationship with the Yakima.

I love the Yakima. There are 20+ inch fish in the river. I was witness when my buddy Marck landed a large rainbow a couple of years ago. I was behind the camera, which is where I always am when a big fish is in the picture. As far as I am concerned, that fish of Marck’s was the stuff legends are made of. I myself caught a nice fish about 8 years ago: it wanted desperately to be 20 inches, but I think it fell short of that mark by an inch or so. Our guide on that trip, Johnny Boitano, even got excited when that fish was hooked and landed. But I’ve not come close to a Yakima fish that size since.

Marck’s epic fish.

A long ago and rare angling accomplishment.

Most of the time I catch 10-12 inch fish. Well, that’s not entirely true—most of the time I catch nothing. A 10 inch fish on this river doesn’t excite me, although it’s certainly better than the all-too-common skunk. Not that I’m a big fish snob, mind you. Au contraire. But when there are much bigger fish in a river touted to be a blue ribbon trout stream, a 10 inch trout seems like a yellow participant’s ribbon.

I hate the Yakima. 2 weeks ago, Jimmy and Morris and I fished 15 miles of the Lower Yakima Canyon and I didn’t hook a single fish. Jimmy landed one 12 incher and Morris fared slightly better in the numbers department, catching 3 fish but nothing bigger than 10-12 inches. I’ve been skunked more times on this river than I care to remember. But I keep going back.

I can’t quit the Yakima. A week ago my brother Hal and I fished with Derek Young of Emerging Rivers Guide Services. We floated an upper section of the river from Cle Elum to Bristol. Hal won out as far as quantity, catching 3 respectable fish in the 10-12 inch range as well as a handful of disrespectful fish of considerably less length.

One of Hal’s many disrespectable troutletts.

By late afternoon I had about given up all hope of catching a fish. The day had been tough, what with a plummeting barometer putting the fish down. Even a dropping river couldn’t turn on the bite as our streamers were ignored all morning long. After lunch we opted for some dry fly fishing and even that didn’t rise any fish for me except for a diminutive troutling that even a sculpin would have called an appetizer.  From the Rear Admiral position in the back of the boat I watched a crane fly skitter across the river toward the grassy bank, just a few feet below where my fly was drifting. Suddenly a very large fish (undoubtedly 20+ inches) rolled on the crane fly. Had my synthetic imitation gotten there first I’m sure the fish would have taken my fly balked and waited for the real deal. It’s just how things roll for me. A short while later, about the time the pity party was getting into full swing, the threat of a skunk was eliminated as I landed a nice 16 inch Westslope Cutt. Not a hog by Yakima standards, but it was the best fish I’ve landed on that river in an awful long time. Derek was relieved because he knew his tip was in jeopardy of smelling as bad as a skunk had yours truly come up empty-handed.

A skunk-ending Yakima Westslope.

After the day with Derek and Hal I headed back to the Yakima 3 days later to float with the Brothers Albacore. We opted for the same float that I had fished earlier in the week, and my intent was to catch the crane fly-eating hog and hold bragging rights for years to come. The weather had been stable for 4 days in a row and the river continued to drop. There was cloud cover. It held great promise of a big fish day.  Well, I can tell you that if the 10 inch rainbow taken on a dry and the 11 inch chubby Westslope cutthroat that I pulled out from under some woody debris on a streamer are big fish, then I was accomplished. Everyone caught at least a couple of smallish fish, but at the end of the day if you were to ask the Brothers Albacore their thoughts on the Yakima they’d say, “At least the beer was good.”

Chubby 11 incher.

Depending on who you asked.

The Brothers Albacore: Team PBR


What’s in a hat?

hat is a head covering. It can be worn for protection against the elements, for ceremonial or religious reasons, for safety, or as a fashion accessory. In the past, hats were an indicator of social status. In the military, they may denote nationality, branch of service, rank and/or . regiment. —Wikipedia, your online hat expert

We angling types like hats. I myself have mentioned several times and even written fairly extensively about the Lucky Fishing Hat. MY Lucky Fishing Hat, that is. After all this is my blog so I wouldn’t very well write about YOUR lucky fishing hat. But I digress. Most anglers tend toward ball cap style hats, with the standard issue bill out front and nothing on the sides (to protect your ears) nor the back (to protect your neck). This style of hat almost seems to be the requisite uniform of the angler, and I admit that I wear this style of hat when I’m off the water.

I have more of these hats from various fly fishing related entities than I can wear in a lifetime. I’m not partial to one particular hat though I do like some of them better than others for personal reasons: Take for example, The Emerging Rivers Guide Services hat that I have. I wear it quite a bit because it’s a super-sweet logo (shameless self promotion) and owner Derek Young is a good buddy. I also have a tattered old, sweat-stained Reel Pure hat that also sports an uber-cool design (I wish I could take credit for it). There’s something about this hat that just makes it so easy to wear. It’s like a pair of well-worn underpants—you hardly know it’s there. These two are pretty much my every day, go-to lids except when I have important client meetings, in which case I go commando don’t wear a hat.

But I digress, again.  The point of this is really to announce that after years of the people demanding it I’m finally going to be offering a limited supply of Unaccomplished Angler hats. I took an informal poll on the Unaccomplished Angler Facebook page and it was pert near a dead even split between those who wanted a trucker style hat and those who preferred a solid twill version. I was able to find a supplier to make up some nice woven patches (instead of direct embroidery, which can’t handle fine design details) and affix them to a choice of either style hat. Lucky you, to have such choices!

The hats haven’t arrived yet, but when they do you can be sure you’ll hear about it.  You’ll want to reserve yours fast though, because as I said quantities are very limited. And I’m reserving one of each for myself because they’re sure to become my favorites.

Stay tuned.

Please note that either style comes with a pre-formed bill (no flat billed hats. Those are stupid looking). If you want to pre-order one of these fine-looking Unaccomplished Angler hats, send an email to Unaccomplished Angler (at) gmail (dot) com.