Glenn's Hometown News: Red's Fly Shop; a fisherman's paradise ne - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Glenn's Hometown News: Red's Fly Shop; a fisherman's paradise near Ellensburg

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ELLENSBURG, WA - The Pacific Northwest is known for having some of the best recreational spots in the country. In this week's edition of Hometown News, Glenn Cassie discovered a fabulous place that is known to fishermen all over the world...and it's right here in our own backyard.

The town of Ellensburg is located just east of the Cascade Mountain Range, with a population of just over 19,000. It's known as the most centrally-located city in the state. The downtown area has many historic buildings dating back to the late 1800s. It's also home to Central Washington University. But a gorgeous, 20-minute drive outside of downtown will land you at a world-class fly fishing spot, which is home to one of the unique treasures in eastern Washington: Red's Fly Shop, which is steeped in history.

"The property itself has had some community use of since, gosh, say the 60s," said Joe Rotter, co-owner of Red's Fly Shop. "And nobody quote me exact on that, but it has a deep legacy of public use for boaters, rafters, fly fisherman, and recreators [sic] in the Yakima canyon for decades and decades."

Meet Joe Rotter, who has co-owned Red's Fly Shop for more than a decade. Its original owners, Red and Marlene Blankenship, sold the original property back in 2002, and it's since been expanded to include several new buildings. But it was important to Red that its new owners maintain the shop's legacy.

"It was important to them that they had a long-lasting legacy of public use and access for people to come and use the property," said Rotter.

It's Washington state's only blue ribbon trout fishery, which makes it one of the top fisheries in the country for wild rainbow and cutthroat trout. The property as you see it opened in 2012, and while the store itself is a thing of beauty, it's not match for its surroundings.

"You have amazing cliff walls, and it's a spectacular canyon," explained Rotter. "As far as scenery goes, there's big horn sheep and mule deer, 20-something species of raptors that live in the canyon, so bird watching is spectacular."

But most come to Red's to fish year-round, although peak season is from July through October. And the store offers everything the angler needs, from rods, reels, and lines to specialty gear, clothing, boats, and of course; flies. But it's their service that keeps customers coming back.

"Because we can employ year-round people in fly fishing, we carry a level of expertise that can't be paralleled almost anywhere in the world," Rotter said.

Although it's one of the largest fly fishing shops in the country and they ship supplies all over the world, this place is much more than just a fly shop. It includes a 20,000 square foot lodge that can be rented out for events, as well as 10 individual guest suites with all the comforts of home. Throw in a full service cafe and pool, and it's a relaxing way to spend a weekend. They also teach you everything you need to learn about fishing, through classes they offer on-site.

"As a fly fisherman, you have to really become part of the ecosystem," said Rotter. "You're gonna learn about the insects the fish eat, you're gonna learn about fish behavior, the fact that they like shade to evade predators."

And if fishing isn't your thing and you're more into hunting and learning how to shoot, Red's has you covered there as well.

"We have a sporting clays course, where people can come shoot clay pigeons, shoot sporting clays, learn to shoot shotguns, and they can go pheasant hunting, and hunt wild chucker and wild quail here in the Yakima Canyon as well."

At its core, Rotter says the people at Red's really want to teach new sportsmen both how to fly fish, fly cast, and shoot shotguns, while providing all the gear necessary. Not much of a fisherman himself, Glenn asked Rotter about the fly cast and what makes it so unique.

"It's magic," admitted Rotter. "Nobody knows the answer to it. It shoots over, in this nice, beautiful, majestic, mystical fashion. You know, it defies physics. And it has speed and distance, that just doesn't seem like it could come out of a, you know, lightweight graphite fly rod."

And Red sure did pick a magnificent spot for his shop, all those decades ago.

"For me, the Yakima being a very large, western-style river, kind of a Montana-style river, the challenge of dealing with fast water, big wind and larger trout, really makes it an attractive place to fish," Rotter said.

One of the most exciting things Red's does for the community is hold an annual rendezvous event, and this year it's their eighth one. It takes place on Saturday, April 22nd, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and it's free to the public. There will be seminars, lessons, and tours of the property, as well as plenty of food and beverages. But the highlight, Rotter says, is the fly casting championship, where even a novice like Glenn can participate.

If you have a hidden gem or a unique business where you live, send Glenn a message at