|"The Fish Journal"
Issaquah Press, Published December 3, 2008
By Dallas Cross
I got a call from Jeff, an Issaquah
friend, asking if I was interested in fishing the Yakima River from
a drift boat with his fishing partner, Bob. Being a responsible,
professional fishing companion I readily accepted and began checking
the fishing reports. The day before the trip the flow rate of the
Yakima was around 1300 cubic feet per second, low enough to be waded
but high enough for good floating.
A report of reasonable caddis and other
insect hatches, together with recent reports of fishing success,
spurred my enthusiasm and I tied up a couple of dry flies and made
sure I had some bead-head nymphs to tempt non-rising trout. So far it
After driving over Snoqualmie Pass in
the morning towing the drift boat trailer, we were met with a
cloudless day when we arrived at Red’s Fly Shop on the river.
Red’s guides were encouraging and expectant of a productive day on
the river with their clients.
We arranged for the truck and trailer
to be ferried to our pull out point on the river and drove upstream
ten miles to launch. That is when we encountered the rat. It seems
Bob had recently put out poison near where he stored the boat. One
of the victims had crawled under the cover, into the boat, and curled
up in a cup holder. I tried to flip out the rodent with a piece of
sagebrush but it jumped onto the bottom of the boat and disappeared
through a small slit under the raised flooring at the bow.
Subsequent to declarations of refusal
to go fishing with a rat in the boat we tilted the boat so the
rainwater washed under the flooring with no luck. We finally
resorted to using a fly rod section to dig out the rat which jumped
directly into Jeff’s waiting fish net. Ultimately it escaped the
net and ran into the sagebrush.
We launched the drift boat and promptly
returned to shore to remove the water that had come up though the
drain hole I had opened after scraping the plug out with my foot.
Taking turns rowing, beaching the boat,
wading to cast, taking shore breaks, and me scraping off barnacles on
gravel bars, pretty much describes the rest of the float. This
Saturday there were lots of other boaters and wading fisher persons
to hail and to avoid floating through their fishing areas. The
main action, so far, was herding flotilla after flotilla of brown
headed mergansers ahead of the boat and enjoying the scenery.
Although there were several large
caddis flies about and a few minor hatches of blue wing olives, the
fish did not respond with feeding displays nor interest in our
flies. We blamed the sunny sky and lack of cloud cover for fish
disinterest. Continuing to switch flies we kept on casting.
After changing from a beaded prince
nymph with a large, orange simulator as a floating strike indicator,
I finally caught and released the first small rainbow which gulped my
small, blue wing dun floating in the foam line. This lowered the
skunk flag one-third way down the mast. Bob soon followed with a
couple of trout lowering it a third more. Jeff was only able to hook
up with tiny trout, all ineligible to lower the flag.
So went the float, but in high spirits
we pulled out, loaded the drift boat and began disassembling our gear
for the trip back. An exclamation of pain brought our attention to
Jeff’s little finger where a small dry fly with a bent down barb
protruded from the quick next to his fingernail. Bob then informed
Jeff that the tip to his fly rod had been broken off during the
To cheer up the situation Bob remarked
that Jeff had caught the final fingerling of the day in the parking
lot. We laughingly agreed that this qualified him to lower his
personal skunk flag.
Finding there wasn’t sufficient pain
killer available in the truck and refusing my offer to pull out the
hook with a leader around its bend - accompanied with a piece of
sagebrush to bite down on, Jeff opted to ride in the cab with hand
aloft all the way back to Issaquah. He checked into a clinic and was
queued for treatment behind emergency personnel with a patient on a
gurney, and in front of a soon-to-deliver woman bearing what appeared
to be twins; but he did not give up his place in line.
Jeff grimaced a lot while he was being
attended to, not from the pain, but because the medical staff
constantly referred to him as Captain Hook. They did numb his finger
and removed the fly before sending the captain to the drug store on
his way home.
Fingerling and Fly