Last week I headed out to a small stream on the eastern slope of the Cascades, which I have been meaning to check out for the last several years. The research that I had done on this drainage showed that it was rather rugged and home to populations of native Columbia Basin redbands and westslope cutthroat. Being that the was located a little further east on the rain shadow of the Cascades, it took on a little be more of an arid Rocky Mountain feel. Also due to being a bit further east summer still had a bit stronger hold on the region and it was already in the low 80's when I arrived. Perfect wet wading conditions. Like usual I rigged up my 2wt with an attractor dry and a small size 16 bi-color prince nymph dropper. Being early fall the creek was low, but working my way upstream I quickly found and nice pool with fish rising along the basalt cliff edge.
A productive pool on the creek
Most of these fish ended up being juvenile salmon, which are slowly starting to repopulate the streams of the Yakima River watershed. These little fish were extremely aggressive and made it difficult to get my fly in front of any trout, but after a handful of casts my dropper went under with a little to much force to be a salmon fry and sure enough I hooked into a nice redband. For their size these redbands are exceptional fighters seemed to be bent on spending as much time out of the water as in.
A picture perfect Columbia Basin redband
Each pool seemed to have several decent redbands in it and the creek had just the right combination of pools and deeper pocket water to keep me occupied. At the head of one of the may basalt rimmed pools I placed a cast right along a perfect looking seem and was caught off guard when a solid 18" redband cruised up and grabbed my dry fly. I got a good hook up, but the combination of the swift current at the head of the pool and my light rod gave the fish the advantage and within short order he was able to shake me loose. After combing the pool for any other unusually large, which of course there weren't any of, I continued upstream and continued to catch the more standard sized 8-10" redbands.
A rugged section of the creek
Finally I got to the point where the shallow to deep water ratio got to low and the creek was to shallow to fish for an exceptionally long stretch so I decided to head back downstream. As I started to work my way back toward the car a nice October caddis hatch kicked into gear and the redbands started looking up a bit more. I put a size 8 stimulator on and started catching a few fish out f each of the pools that I had thought were already fished out. I never did see any of the westslope cutthroat, but the feisty little redbands continued to keep me occupied until I found my way back to the car.
An October caddis eating redband