by Randal Sumner
It's winter now, the time of year that trout bums rest and heal
up from the trout wars. We've trashed all of our gear, tied hundreds
of flies, baked ourselves in the sun and swam for it a few times.
This is no time for man nor beast on the Yakima River. The water
temperature is 40 degrees, air temperature 35. It is overcast and
snowing lightly. You get the call -- midges. The Monsters of the
Midgeway, size 20-24 black dry flies. Black flies on dark water
in a snowfall, it is beautiful.
The trout, if they are taking midges, will be in the slack water
and along the foam lines. The fish are sipping tiny bugs -- the
canyon is so quiet. You can leave most of your summer gear in the
garage. Rod, reel, 6x leaders and a little box of midges is all
that is required. You can also leave the Gore-Tex waders behind.
This is neoprene fishing. Hard-core.
In my truck I keep a bag of fishing clothes. Fuzzy pants, wool
sox, a fleece scarf and Old Blackie. Actually, Old Blacky II, or
Son of Old Blackie -- a gorgeous, wool V-neck army sweater made
in England. This garment has seen some terrific flyfishing from
Kings in Alaska to Grayling in Montana. Old Blackie has a kind of
charm only wool can acquire. I like to think of it as a fat sheep
hugging me ... although I don't think of it this way often.
This year, Consider adding a wool sweater to your gear. You really
don't need a new rod or reel. A purchase of a wool sweater made
in England of Scottish/English wool will -- unlike a new plastic
rod -- add some soul to your flyfishing journey.
Several winters ago I was fishing the Yakima up at the Lone Pine
stretch when it began to snow. Across the river the bighorn sheep
were moving down the hillside. Those sheep looked warm and happy.
Best fishing conditions for winter midwinter Yakima River midging:
clowdy, wind-free days, air temperature of 38 to 40 degrees.
Flies: Griffiths Gnats work, but the best midge pattern
I've seen was originated by a local master tier by the name of Dick
Sackman. You will have to see him for the recipe. After all, this
is secret winter fishing.