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MARCH 23, 2011


Filed under Trips @ 11:50 am

As springtime approaches, we're getting fired up to get back out on the rivers. In Washington, it's getting close to March Brown and Squala time. But as winter thinks about receding, it's worth one last look at a winter's fly-fishing trip.

Washington state's winter sucks. It rains and it's cold on the west slopes, and if you go east of the Cascade mountain range it's freezing and/or snowing or just generally the pits. Steelheaders love it, but then steelheaders aren't human. They're a subspecies of some sort. Better left to their own devices, deliriums and dementia. Winter's chill just won't let go. What can you do, but think about trout fishing, or just screw it and go fishing anyway?

Out of nowhere I got an email from a friend named Bryan LaComa, who suggested a bunch of us should go camping and winter fish the Yakima River in eastern Washington for 20 inch trout. Yeah, like that's even real this time of year. At best this is a foolish idea, and at worst it's worse. So many better things to do with your life, like...like...I figured I'd go just for the whiskey. I mean, if you simply can't wait for March Browns or Squalas in the spring, you might as well be flagrantly irresponsible in the winter, right? Some of these guys believed firmly that we'd actually catch fish. Bryan's the kind of guy who can catch fish in a bathtub full of dirty water and he was convinced. His buddy Ryan Smith, from Seattle's Avid Angler, is a guide and fly-shop owner in the area. He was sure we could do it. Me? Color me doing what I'm told, and in spite of a natural tendency toward Chicken Little, cautiously optimistic about the whole thing.

WintYakima River Image 1

A cold gray camp at the BLM Lmuma Creek campsite. There are a number of
organized sites along the length of the Yakima River Canyon. In a camp like this,
whiskey and good food are a baseline for emotional survival.

Yakima River Image 2

Bryan LaComa and Bill Graham getting in the mood
and fighting off the effects of the prior night's festivities.

Yakima River Image 3

All eight of us managed to find the put in and get the boats in the water.

Yakima River Image 4

The river was running about 3500 CFS, which is high for this time of year,
so the fish would be holding tight to the bank.
  Photo by Gary LaComa

Yakima River Image 5

Winter's day on the Yakima. We got a break in the weather, so the temps
went to just above freezing and most of the snow had melted.
It's bleak outside and the sun tried, but refused to shine.

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