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MARCH 25, 2011

Yakima 2

Filed under Trips @ 10:55 am

The Yakima is a canary in the mine kind of river. I guess most rivers are these days, but the Yakima is a serious canary. It's a great trout stream, but it's just getting hit from so many different directions at the same time. Uptown lodges, mega homes, water diversions, farm fertilizer in the drainage, beer cans, campers, drunk college kids in rafts and over fishing. It's a pounding and it's not going to get any easier. Through it all, the river remains a true gem for trout fishermen who take the time to learn the ways of the river. There are way too many arrogant fly fishermen who think all they need do is stand in a river and fish jump in their waders, because of course they are God's gift to fly fishing. The Yakima will have her way with those people. But for those who take and invest their time, the river will give up some gifts and then some.

About 20 million years ago this whole area was covered in basaltic lava flows extending from the center of the state almost to the Pacific Ocean. At that time the river was a sluggish stream. A series of uplifting and warping events along the eastern slope of the developing Cascades Range increased the flow and the cutting ability of the river as it made its way through the basalt. Today, the river is a visual calendar of those events showing the basalt flows, the sedimentation and the erosive forces of nature that are exposed to fly fishermen every day. It's truly a beautiful place. Similar in many ways to the look of the Deschutes in Oregon, as well as the John Day and the classic Grande Ronde.

But to the point at hand, it was January 2011, and colder than a well-digger's ass outside. Not as cold as it could have been. We got lucky on a short break in the weather, so the snow had melted, but the brittle sting was still fresh in the air, and the visual mood of the place was best described as a lovely shade of Chechnyan Barf Gray. As it turned out, Ryan was unavoidably held up by business, but eight of us made it to camp at the BLM Lmuma Creek campsite on the Yakima River. In the middle of the winter, a pretty bleak scene, with the occasional sun break lasting maybe a few seconds. But hey, we had good food, firewood delivered by a friend in the area, music and a lot of whiskey. The mood was bright sunshine in camp. What's to worry about? (More in this series in the coming days.)

WintYakima River Image 6

Basalt cliffs rim the landscape about halfway down the canyon. Thousands of years ago,
this entire area had been covered by lava which quickly cooled and was uplifted by the rise of
what would eventually become the Cascade Range of mountains about 50 miles to the west.

Yakima River Image 7

The entire length of the Yakima River Canyon is traced by a paved road
that runs between Ellensburg and Yakima, which makes for great bank fishing
in the summer. In high water, boats are the best bet.

Yakima River Image 8

The entire group holds up for moment to talk fish and fishing.

Yakima River Image 9

One person has to stay on the oars as another casts to the bank, because for all
intents and purposes, the boat is always moving when the water is this high.
Even a heavy anchor has trouble holding tight in this current.

Comments (1)

1 Comment

Oh, for a bit of that snow here in NM. Can't wait to fish the Yakima someday.

Comment by Truchacabra — March 27, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

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