Editor's Note: Part one of this report about trout fishing on the Yakima River in February, and a side trip to Umtanum Falls, appeared here last week.
I spread a folded towel on the gravel in the parking area and sat on the car's the rear bumper. I removed my boots and stood in my socks on the towel.
A small pickup filled one other space in the parking area, two spaces to my left.
The area had space enough for five or six vehicles. It had a gap in the rail fence and the usual reader-board with stuff that few people read.
The Yakima River on the canyon side of Ellensburg rushed nearby with a steady, soft swoooosh.
Two men stood in the shallows about 200-300 yards upstream (my distance judgement leaves something to be desired).
Overall, it felt like a perfect day for trout fishing on the Yak: temperature 44 degrees, no wind, a low-hanging overcast sky.
And I had a dozen brand-new Skwala fly patterns in my kit, so the prospects of an exciting day seemed better than good.
I'd purchased the flies the day before at Red's Fly Shop in the Yakima Canyon. Derek picked them out for me, and he knows the river.
I didn't fish much with them, because I took a break to visit Umtanum Falls. After soaking my clothes and filling my boots there, I gave up on fishing.
On the way home, I bought gas in Yakima and left my credit card behind.
So, I drove back to get it the next morning, which helps explain my second February day on the Yak.
But let's not dwell on silliness.
I rigged up the five-weight, nine-foot Sage rod, attached a reel with floating line, a nine-foot leader and a two-foot tippet.
At shortly after 9 a.m., I selected Skwala nymph pattern, with two copper bands on it.
I'd dazzle them with color.
I donned the waders, felt-soled shoes, nylon jacket and the stocking cap.
After checking for my license and shouldering the camera, I headed downstream.
In five minutes I reached a familiar 100-yard-long gravel bar.
I balanced the camera in the rocks, set it for a 20-second timed release and photographed myself sitting on a wad of grass to crimp the barb on the nymph's hook.
I waded in up to my knees and worked out a cast high onto the current, mended the line and drifted the nymph without drag as long as possible.
With no teasel or alder behind me, I worked out 50-60 feet of line.
I felt good loading the back-cast, shooting line forward and hearing it click through the rod's eyelets.
On the 20th or 30th cast I felt a hit.
It turned out to be a nice 14-inch rainbow that scooted away after I slipped the barbless hook from its lip without picking it up.
After an hour and no more hits, I moved on,
A white van sat beside my car in the parking area, and I man and woman approached from upstream.
They'd walked up the river because that's where they met exactly a year earlier. It was their anniversary.
The man and I talked fishing, and I quickly realized he knew the territory.
He chuckled at my buying Skwala flies, suggesting they were just large stone flies and a device to hook more fishermen (into buying flies) than fish.
He suggested that I use a spider pattern on the main leader and rig a dropper with a black gnat pattern.
"And swing it wide," he said. "It's important to swing it wide."
I seldom use a dropper (a 12-inch-or-so attachment to the main line about 18 inches from the end with a second fly). It's just more for me to tangle.
Yet, I know many anglers swear by them.
Nevertheless, I stuck with the single Skwala nymph until about 1 p.m. I caught one more fat rainbow near the bridge at the mouth of Umtanum Creek.
At the Lmumi Recreation Area I switched to the dry-fly Skwala patterns.
I fished a number of holes all the way to the last recreation area in the canyon before Rosa Dam without a hit.
Well, I don't scoff at two nice and pretty fish. And I've given the Skwala's a try.
Next time I fish the Yak in February, however, I'll try a spider pattern with a gnat on a dropper.
And I'll swing it.
That's the important thing, to swing it.
Contact Don Davis at 526-8326 or firstname.lastname@example.org.