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Summer on Last Legs But Fishing Rolls On

by Rob Phillips
Yakima Herald-Republic, September 19, 2011

Steelhead swim up to 900 miles from the ocean to the headwaters. Anglers can keep only hatchery steelhead, which are marked with a clipped adipose fin, the one behind the dorsal fin. All fish with an adipose fin must be immediately released unharmed. YAKIMA, Wash. -- Even though the calendar says this is the last week of summer, the weatherman is throwing some numbers at us that feel mysteriously like August. And even with the first days of autumn coming at us like a freight train, avid local anglers know this is maybe one of the best times of the year to do a little fishing.

The reason? Because there are just so many options.

All of the local streams are still open for trout fishing, and September is normally one of the very best months to fish them. All the area rivers, except for maybe the Tieton, have dropped into great fishing shape. The Yakima is prime right now for fly casters and spinning gear anglers. Not only if the fishing good up in the canyon, typically thought of as the state's best fly fishing river, but down below Roza Dam, all the way to Union Gap can be excellent trout fishing this time of year.

Other rivers and creeks, including the Naches, are greatly under-fished throughout the year, and in the fall you can have this great trout stream to yourself.

As the night time temperatures cool and the fall colors appear, there is no prettier place around than the Naches River higher up toward Chinook Pass. And the trout fishing can be outstanding.

As is the case with all local waters, always check the regulations for the local streams because different rivers, in fact, different parts of different rivers have different regulations on what types of lures, flies and baits can be used.

Of course there are other fishing opportunities as our summer turns to fall.

A great run of steelhead continues up the Columbia River and into the Snake River, and anglers working just above and below the various dams, including the

John Day, McNary and those on the Snake, can find some excellent fishing. Trolling diving plugs such as FatFish and Wiggle Warts during the day, and lighted lures at night, will produce steelhead. It should just get better and better as the temperatures drop and the water temperatures cool.

Bank anglers can get in on the action too, above most of these dams, fishing floats and baits such as dyed prawns, eggs, or sandshrimp.

Salmon anglers are just now starting to hit the Hanford Reach as a huge run of upriver bright chinook salmon is returning to the region. Anglers will work the waters down at White Bluffs, above the Vernita Bridge and in the waters below Wanapum Dam.

Right now the Columbia is running just a bit too warm for the fishing to be red hot. Anglers at White Bluffs have been having sporadic results in recent days.

Typically this is the best time to hit that portion of the river, but the warmer-than-normal Columbia seems to be putting the big salmon off the bite.

Again, as the cooler fall weather arrives, the water temperatures should be more conducive to productive salmon fishing on the Columbia near Vernita.

Of course, many local anglers know now is the time to catch a fall chinook on the Yakima River. In the waters near Prosser, anglers will fish for and catch some nice big salmon by working the waters with floats and eggs, or by drifting eggs through some of the deeper, fish-holding holes in the lower Yakima.

This is also the time of year to try for some of the coho salmon working their way up the Columbia. Fishing at the mouth of the Wind River, at Drano Lake and at the mouth of the Klickitat is just now getting good for these bright, hard-fighting salmon. Not as big on average as a fall chinook, the "silvers" that run up the Columbia are great fighting, willing to bite, and are pretty good table fare.

Best coho fishing comes by trolling with diving plugs in orange, pink and firetiger colors. And, while the fishing for silvers is just now getting started, some of the best fishing will be had in October and can be good clear into November.

Yes, it still feels like summer, but fall officially arrives on Friday, and with it comes some of the best fishing of the year!

Rob Phillips is a freelance outdoor writer and partner in the advertising firm of Smith, Phillips & DiPietro.
Summer on Last Legs But Fishing Rolls On
Yakima Herald-Republic, September 19, 2011

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