January 7th, 2008

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Rocky Ford and the Yakima River
By Sagefisher

I finally made it back home from eastern Washington and the New Year's Day Fish-In at Rocky Ford and a drift on the Yakima River. Rocky Ford is a spring creek that comes out of the ground in an area between Soap Lake and Ephrata, WA. The temperature of the water is the same year round and there is plenty of insect life. At the head of the stream is a private fish hatchery and some of their trout are placed in Rocky Ford through an arrangement with the state.

Rocky Ford is owned by the State of Washington and is open and free to the public. It is fly fishing only and totally catch and release. Barbless hooks are required and no weight can be added to your leader. You are also forbidden to step foot into the water at any place along the creek. They are really serious about that. This area gets hit very heavily by fly fishers, with mixed results.

I actually did what I consider fairly well on New Years Day. I caught 5 trout, none of them really big, 14 inches being the largest, 12 inches being the smallest. I caught them all on dries, using a size 20 Parachute Adam, a size 18 BWO and Griffith's Gnat. There was around four to six inches of fresh snow on the ground and all the roads had compact snow on them.

It was cold that day, overcast and threatening snow. The temperature was 24 degrees F when I arrived and it cooled down a bit later on that day. There was a steady wind coming out of the north, right down the stream.

This was the first time I have had problems with ice crystals forming on the hackles of a size 18 Griffiths Gnat. After 3 or 4 casts, I would have to bring the fly in and blow onto the hackles to remove the ice. My new leader stayed coiled at first, it was so cold that the coils would not leave. I had to keep bringing in my line and stretching out the leader using my warm hand to try to soften the material.

I fished from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm then Brandon and I headed for the cars to have lunch. Steve (Z) had brought a lot of firewood so we could have a bonfire for warmth. Richard, or Mr. Chili, brought his Dutch Oven and heated up his fantastic home made chili. We had bread, cheese and crackers and veggies available for all to have. Good eats.

I believe there were ten of us from Fly Anglers On Line who showed up for this yearly event. Listening to the conversations I would say that everyone had caught some fish and some had caught a few rather large fish.

After a long lunch, three of us headed back down do catch a little more fishing. I had no luck that afternoon so headed back to my truck as it was getting dark.

That is when my troubles started.

The 'fob' or clicker to unlock my truck doors and to turn off the alarm would not work. I took it apart and switched the batteries, but no luck. By now it was dark. I had to unlock my truck with the key, which naturally set off the alarm. No problem thinks I as I reach for the reset button. It had worked when I first got my truck, but now it does not work. That was just great. The alarm is very loud and shuts off the ignition system. I was stuck out in the middle of nowhere and every one was gone. I opened the hood of the truck and cut the wire to the siren type horn that belonged to the alarm system. Then I grabbed my handy cell phone to call 'AAA.' Naturally there was no signal. I was down in a valley out in the middle of nowhere. I hoofed it up a hill, over a fence to a higher point of land and was able to call out. It took one hour for the tow truck to get there. We arrived in Ellensburg at an auto dealership around 8:00 pm.

I already had a room reserved at a local motel because I was supposed to do a drift with Danny from The Worley Bugger Fly Co. that next day. That didn't happen. I called the shop first thing in the morning to let them know. Later on I walked up to the fly shop. Danny and Steve were there and Danny took me out to the car dealership and I was told it would be later on that day before they could take a look at my truck. I rented a car so I would have some wheels and went back to the fly shop. I decided to reschedule my drift for the next day, hoping they would have my truck ready for me. I had suggested a course of action to take on my truck and the dealership did just that, getting my truck up and running by 3:00 pm that same day.

Thursday morning found me at the fly shop and ready to go fishing. It was spitting snow but there was no wind. Danny decided to launch at the KOA campgrounds and drift down to Rinehart Park, below the diversion dam. We had around 10 inches of snow on the ground. Duplicating my efforts from the month before, I caught 3 fish again, two of them trout. But, they were bigger and fatter than the trout I caught in December. The Rainbow was a nice 16 inch male and a very good fighter. I caught it on a Sculpin type streamer. Later on that day I caught a very fat Cutthroat on an egg pattern fly. The weather was actually nice all day. While it was cold with some snow, I had dressed for the temperature and I was never chilled. Not having a wind really helped out on that point.

I did enjoy the drift. There were ducks around most corners and dippers could be seen along the shoreline. Hawks would cry out every so often and it was a pleasant day in a winter water wonderland. The fish I caught were a nice bonus.

All in all, this was a good way to break in the New Year! ~ Larry


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