Work took me out to Suncadia this past summer, so when I got an invite to try the Cle Elum River, I gladly jumped on it. The stretch we covered is within the private residential portion of the river as it meanders past several pristine golf courses. It feels remarkably wild despite its proximity to golf-cart paths and gaudy second homes.
I was initially struck by the speed of the river as well as the sheer amount of log jams and topography that broke the surface. The beaver piles and wood debris made for very technical fishing and wading. In a soft cell behind a protruding root ball I hooked into the first “serious trout” I’ve felt since moving to Washington. I was in the absolute worst position possible to negotiate so it ended quickly.
Local fly pattern advice didn’t produce much action so I fell back to my favorite Truckee River flies and focused on just reading the water. Finding the slots that trout would hold for cover and food wasn’t too hard. Those were everywhere. Trying to get a decent drift in those slots was damn near impossible. When less than 30% of such a diversely structured river is wadable, the internal dialogue goes something like this:
“Can’t get there.
Can’t get there either.
Shouldn’t try that.
Not sure my buddies would hear my cries if I fell in there.
I’ll try this one.”
Even so, standing waist deep with crisp morning air on your neck, planning your next drift, and pulling small fish out is a good place to be. All in all, a glorious morning.