Quicksilver River

The early season is here. Late January ushers in trout fishing. It’s slow, it’s cold, but it beats sitting around doing nothing. I’ve been prepping myself for the guide season in January and February for the last nine years. I get to fish for myself a lot more in the early season and spring before things get crazy. I had started guiding by this time last year and am grateful I am able to take my time getting back into the rhythm of things before having to guide and produce at level. This will be my last winter here on the homewater. I’ll be in warmer salty-er pastures come late October.

Fishing this warly in the season isn’t my favorite. I’ll be straight up. It’s tougher, it’s fing cold, and the fish don’t have food on the brain yet. Water temps are still low enough that trout metabolism is at its literal minimum. Trout are not going to expel energy for much until water temps rise up closer to 45 degrees and above. This means trout are in winter lies. Or the slow, deep water. They are bunched up in big pods, basically doing the equivalent of hibernating in trout form. They eat but they don’t move much. Literally has to be in front of their face. A good early season is 4 to 6 nice fish to the net. That’s a good day before March.

There isn’t much food, and there is no need for trout to move for it or seek it out anyway. It’s funny how nature works that way. As water temps crest 42, the river bed starts to wake up. Caddis and stoneflies start to move about slightly. Mayflies perk up under rocks. They aren’t really doing much. Just taking their time coming alive. As things start to warm above 45 degrees underwater, the place comes alive even more.

Bugs begin feeding, moving around- stoneflies, skwallas, and salmon fly nymphs begin to migrate from the deep boulder gardens towards the bank to become adults, mate, lay eggs, and die. During this migration, they feed and are fed upon ravenously. This is when trout season officially commences. Usually, this is late February or early March. It can take 10 days to 3 weeks for the river to wake up. It also moves upriver, this warming trend and river coming to life. It starts here in the LC and slowly works its way upriver, and by late March or early April, the whole watershed has spring in full swell.

As this happens, trout do two things. They become hungry, and they begin to move about more. They become food responsive dictated by their environment. They seek out food as their metabolism increases with each increment of a degree in warmer water temps. They begin to behave differently. As many this season are of spawning age. This means they also do another thing. As water temps get closer to 50, trout begin to focus their behavior on spawning. They forgo a lot of normal trout behavior during this time. They become ravenous for food prior and post spawning. They also move about the river more during this time. Moving towards spawning areas but also general movement towards feeding areas, shelter, and the normal trout movement.

Moving means spent energy, which makes trout feed. They seek out and move for food during this time with reckless abandonment unlike any other time of year. They need to eat for the process of spawning on top of everything else. This means they become ‘stupid’ for flies. What it truly breaks down to is trout become incredibly respondent to food because they have an appetite that survival depends on. Not just their own survival but their genetics and offspring. The desire to reproduce makes trout seek out and hunt food, eat opportunisticly and ferociously.

Sexually mature fish are larger, and springtime is your best chance at getting shots at them. Doesn’t matter what you throw, they wanna eat. Dries, nymphs, streamers, it’s all on the menu. These fish are harder to chase later in the year. After a season of anglers throwing flies at them, each generation of fish gets ‘smarter’ to the fly. PHD trout. The Yakima is known for it. And with how much pressure these fish get, anglers with skill and with good instruction can excel on this river. Again, this is a behavioral response to all those casts and flies each day every day from March to October. The fish aren’t as sensitive or ‘smart’ to anglers in the early season, and the conditions described above as well as weather and river flows and temps are all at the anglers advantage during the spring.

Phd trout is a real thing here, and it happens as fish age and fishing pressure get to them. Fish literally caught 100 times over its life. Sometimes more. In the course of a single Yakima River trout life, they can be hooked into 500 to 1000 times. If you had fake food hooking your lips every other day for 5 to 7 years, you’d learn to be wary of food, too! This fishery breeds those kinds of technical fish. It’s also where my guiding and skill set really come through. Being able to teach and educate anglers and clients is the bread and butter of my guiding, and this river can turn you into a really, really good angler.

I’ve been saying this for a few seasons. Since 2020 when these fish had no pressure. It’s been getting really friendly and chummy out there with the Yakima trout…which means it’s about to get really technical. The Yak cycles like this. I’ve seen it over the course of guiding and over the almost 20 years fishing here. These fish are getting smart. And that’s when this river makes and breaks you. If you can trick them here, anglers, you can trick trout anywhere. The Yakima is still in my top 5 for technical PHD Level fisheries. It’s up there with Silver Creek and the Ausable.

Tis’ why I do love the Yakima and will always fish and guide its waters. No matter where guiding takes me. The Yak will always be the homewater. And aside from January, I do love the spring. As February warms up the basalt cliffs of the Lower Canyon, I get to frequent the slow, quiet banks of the river. There aren’t too many people, an angler or two here and there. A boat or three on the weekends. Eagles stoic, sitting staring at the quicksilver water. Gray and ever moving the glare against the low angled sun. Each morn, the light begins a little earlier, and each eve, the sun lingers just moments more. Every day, I watch the lower canyon try and break free of winters grasp. A snow flurry clutches onto the hillsides, reminding everything that it’s still early. Not yet… but soon. The quicksilver waters inviting, and a wild trout soon to be eager for food.

See ya riverside anglers

Tamarack

Split Day Floats

Split the cost of a full day with another angler. I’ve set up blocks of dates in March and April with a waitlist for anglers to get on the water for $250 a piece.

Sign up with a $100 deposit to reserve a spot on the waitlist. As they fill you’ll get confirmation of your day and fishing buddy. Only these dates in March and April.

March 20th – 23rd

April 16th thru 22nd.

If they don’t reserve they are open to regular scheduled trips.

Sign up to save. But only if you fish well with others.

The season is booking up fast. Get after it anglers.

See ya riverside anglers.

2023 Preseason Jam

It has begun anglers. Fishing started Monday with my dumbest missing 4 solid fish on the nymph. Worked the kinks out in the LC.

Camplife has also commenced. Living down by the river until October now. Stoke levels are high. It feels good to be back at it after the off season. The shuffle back to guide mode starts and I get to fish every day I want until March.

Kristen and I hit the river again today. Sunny did a longer float from 10 to 4. Had a wonderful on streamers. Black dark ones with the off color and slightly high water in the lower canyon. 4 fish to net with 3 more missed. Slow swung on the 6wt. Aww ya. I much prefer a streamer eater over the nymph, and when I think winter fishing, I think streamers slow swung and stripped to trout. Juicy.

The first fish of 2023 landed, and I’m back at it. Boat feels good under me. Mine will be riding the river next week. Feels good to shake hands with a big wild Yakima Rainbow. It’s been since October.

Trips are coming in with dates filling up in March and April quickly. Think 3 and 4 months out when booking for prime dates and weekends.

March 12th Kristen with Streamside Coven Co. And I will be hosting a Spring Educational Clinic for $175 per person. $65 additional for gear. We have 5 spots left open. Learn the ins and outs of spring fishing to dust off for the season or to get into fly fishing for the first time! All skill levels welcome.

Come on out anglers 2023 is here! So Troot Yo’Self!

Tamarack

Trout Bum Life

The days are getting longer. Light lingers after 5 pm now. The sun breaks the day a smidgen earlier each morning. The start of my 9th full-time guide season here on the Yakima is beginning. The early season and spring fishing have become some of my favorite times of year to chase trout.

Things are slow to start. As am I these days. After thousands of river days, I take my time more now. Last season was the busiest I’ve done, I started guiding in late January and had out over 40 guide days on the calendar before April ended. This season is different.

I’m limiting my guide days to 150-175 in 2023. 41 days are already booked. I’m also not guiding until March.  Last year’s early season trips were work, it was cold, and I wanted to fish. This season, I’ll be fishing the  pre season. Compacting my guide days to when I know it will give anglers the best opportunities at fish.  But also waiting until the river is more teachable. 

March is when things really start sounding off. The time leading up to then can be very productive but also very unpredictable. It takes more feel and instinct in the pre season, in my opinion. Learning and feeling how the river is changing, how the fish move daily and over the course of the season. This is hard to teach. It ends up being that fishy sense we guides and experienced anglers have. In all reality, it comes down to time and consistent days on the river.

Each day I go out in the pre season, I am learning, listening, and observing. The river tells all when you’re out on it every day. And I spend almost every day riverside. I also need time to get myself physically and mentally prepared for the upcoming season. I’ll be 37 this season, and each year, more care is taken to make sure my body is in shape. What I do for a living is incredibly physical, and not all rowers are created equal, I’ve worked very hard to be one of the better oarsman around, and that takes its toll on the body. Jumping headfirst into guiding isn’t how I roll anymore. I ease in.

That also helps me prepare mentally. Last season showed me that I can burn out on the people side of guiding.  I do get fatigued from teaching and interacting with people. The job is mostly people at the end of the day. So, easing into the season for myself and taking time to settle into my own river rhythm before I start guiding and having the pressure of producing is important. Which really just means getting to go fishing for me.

The offseason has been quite uneventful and easygoing. Exactly what you want out of the winter months. Financially, this was the easiest offseason to get through. The early bookings have been much appreciated. After 8 years in business, the career I’ve chosen has really started to work the way it’s supposed to. My clients are to thank for that.

Last season was nuts. I ran 207 trips. Over a dozen double days, I added 44 new clients to a roster of over 250. Over 1000 river miles floated, some 240 days on water.  I fished new water last season both in my backyard, Idaho, and Michigan, and I boosted my business to a point where I will finally…finally be able to break into the Southern Saltwater Area and guide new states and water moving forward. It’s been a long time coming, and the stoke for this season is very high. Moving towards not just being your local fishing guide.

I’m really looking forward to getting started. I will be living riverside in the LC within the next 10 days. And back to that trout bum life.  Transitioning out of hibernation and back to fishing.  Waking up with the river. It’s also been about 8 plus weeks since I’ve touched a fish. I finally started feeling the urge to chase fish this past week. The only reason I didn’t go out was because I got sick. 

Here we go anglers. I start dusting off the gear and prepping for the season. It’s already filling up.  There’s 109 days open for the Yakima from March to May 10, July 5th-October.

March is filling up quickly with only 8 more days left open. April isn’t far behind. I’ve never booked out this far in advance, but that is the trend in our industry right now. All the guide outfits are booking dates out way in advance. There is a huge push in outdoor recreation right now. Campgrounds are already reserved for summer dates. I can’t stress enough that making plans way ahead of time is important. Things will be full, hotels, campgrounds, and even the river will be busy as last year if not more so.

I invite you to come out for a guided trip this season.  Spring fishing is some of my favorite and gives anglers the advantage and best shots at those big ol’ trout. Which we will touch on in the next blog post.  I hope to see you riverside this season anglers.

Tamarack

Off-season shuffle

We are coming up on the halfway point of the off-season for us guides. The winter has been pretty chill so far. I spent a good chunk of the start of the winter in Michigan, which helped get me through the first part, which can be the toughest. The body and mind want to keep going, but mother nature says otherwise. It’s takes a while to come down from the season and rest and settle. Traveling makes that process easier. Also, sharing the offseason and living the trout bum life through the offseason has been something I’ve always wanted.

The business takes care of itself, and finally, post covid is allowing me to live close to the way I want. Less stress, slightly financially comfortable for once, and a 2023 season filling up with trips before it even starts. For once… being content…its nice. Takes some getting to used to…my generation has issues when things get comfy…we aren’t sure how to operate.

December brings about the midpoint of the offseason. The offseason shuffle. We hit the winter solstice this week, and slowly but surely, the sun starts to shine longer each day as we move towards the thaw. January will bring more snows, thick ones, and it will get cold. But then it breaks in mid Febraury and gives us a taste before the river takes its time waking up throughout March.

With no pressure to work prior to March this coming year, I get to ramble into the trout season at my pace. I don’t know if it’s how long I’ve been doing this, or if it’s my age, or just how this winter is going, but this offseason has been one I’ve looked forward to and now that we creep up to the downhill side of it things start to change.

The first thing I notice is the sun. It starts to wake up earlier, and my body starts to reset its internal clock to match. The days start to get longer, and as someone who spends 80 percent of their time outdoors, you feel it. As we get through January, the itch to get out increases. The days have a other hour to them by then. When February hits, the sunny, warm days are usually fished. If it gets close to 50 degrees, it’s fishy in February. As a guide, I have to perform and produce when guiding starts. So, I typically spend February prepping for the season. Get the chops back up. I haven’t touched a boat in 3 months by February. So, each week, wading and rowing are important no matter the fishing just to get back into shape for the year. If you don’t, the chances of hurting yourself in March are much higher.

Spending 10 to 15 February days on the river gets you ready. Fishing in the cold works the winter insulation off the body, gets the muscles fired up and working slowly. I get familiar with the boat, work, out any kinks or maintenance issues, give myself time to check gear, establish what needs replaced, and tuned up. All part of guide work.

I also get a chance to feel out the river. She tells you a lot as she’s waking up. I feel out when bugs hatch, I’m able to determine fish movements, water temps start to change, food starts to move, fish start thinking about spawning. All these things start to show themselves and give me a picture of what the river is going to do as we move into the spring. When you pair those 15 days, with a handful of years of experience, watching the snowpack, 10 to 3 month weather forecasts, air temps, river flow, and barometric pressure predictions, and you can get an idea of what goes into guiding and how I prep for the season.

As the winter subsides, the brain wants to be in that space again, constantly troubleshooting and prorblem solving. By February, I’ve had a long enough mental break. I want to be moving again, both physically and mentally. The cabin fever and sitting still, 4 walls, feeling trapped, it’s ran its course, and it’s time to get back into the guide life.

The holidays approach, and I take a little break from the social media stuff. I tie through the next 5 to 6 weeks. I’m doing holiday stuff. I even have a trout bum Christmas tree. My kids will be here for New Years. I’m planning a trip to Florida in January or February prior to the season starting. Not a bad offseason anglers.

With March and April dates filling up quicker than any previous year, I’m stoked to get to the 2023 season. I’ve got a goal to book 75 to 100 trips before the end of April. Fill out the schedule. I know there’s enough after doing so many last year. I love spring fishing more and more each year. It’s less crowded, and it’s consistent fishing compared to summer. There are big trout all colored up from the cold water and the spawn coming. There’s BWO and March Brown dry fly headhunting, and aggressive streamer takes. Plus skwallas.

As December rolls through, I wish all of you a Happy Holidays. Thank you to everyone who continues to support your local trout bum guide. Enjoy time with loved ones and those you hold close and dear. Be kind to one another. I’ll see you riverside after the thaw anglers.

Tamarack

Slow Down

The guide life is fast-paced. At least the way I do it. I live almost every day on the water. From February to October. And eventually, during the off months, too. There is little time for much else during the season besides guiding. All that guiding encompasses the physical work, the mental work, the patience, the driving, the lack of sleep, the grind a guide goes through to perform, produce, and entertain. It’s a lot, it’s fast, it’s constantly changing, and leaves little room for much else when it’s guide season.

The off-season becomes important for that slow down of things. The waking up late and sleeping 10 hrs a day. The lack of movement, there’s a lot of nothing that goes on. During the season, I’m never sitting still. Always moving doing something. I take my time in the mornings and evenings, enjoying the actual time I have to just settle, hover, and enjoy it. I don’t get that during the guide season. Things get done at a lieusure pace in the off-season. I worked hard to be able to enjoy 8 weeks of things moving a little slower.

It’s important to rest the body, which I am still feeling little tweaks and strains from physically. And I do. But also resting the brain. It’s a lot to dial in trout, teaching, coaching, setting lines, rowing, managing, talking, observing, and all that fun stuff. So, resting the brain is necessary. It’s also a time to reflect on the business, see where it can improve, change things, expand, and think about different ways of sharing fishing through guiding. It’s a time to think creatively and get outside the box to keep things fresh and growing.

The off-season is also a time for me. I get to fish a lot, but I give my all to guiding, so this time of year, I take time for stuff I like. I still play a decent amount of video games, I tie flies for work and pleasure, do some reading, Netflix, and chill. It looks like a whole lot of nothing from the outside, but there’s more going on during the off-season than it appears. And I work. I’m a small business owner. I work most days for a few hrs. It’s not near as much during guide season, but this winter has been busier than usual. I’ve never had 30 days booked this early. And I live off of guiding and selling flies. I don’t do other work. This is it. Full time career choice. So it’s nice that the hard work is paying off and allowing me to live the lifestyle I set out for. The off-season has given me time to think on that part of guiding.

The slow down, the quiet, the chill. That’s the offseason for me. It’s not always easy, and sometimes others think I’m aloof, don’t care, or am lazy. But it’s not that. It’s just the time I get for me, and I take it seriously.

Skwalla Special Dates are booking up! $375 5hr 2 people float trips for March.

April dates are filling up, too, for those juicy March Brown Mayfly days. I’m only booking 150 guide trips on the Yakima this season. I’ll be gone May and June during high water.

There’s a plug for work stuff. We will also have new wading options and clinics this season!

Till next time anglers.

Tamarack

Offseason Thoughts

The desire to explore, to discover, to experience. A very important piece of what makes us human…our ability to wonder. To be curious. Our travels take some of us to water. Water is an integral part of what makes us human. It’s necessity, its ability to bring us peace, sustinence, strike fear, bring forth industry, be tamed to an extent, water is filled with wonder and connects us all.

Water. In a river. A river that flows from high mountain tops. Trees like a think blanket abide here, with just the stone faces of the mountains peeking from their evergreen slumber. Small waterfalls and brooks feed the start of our river. A small tarn seeps nearby, the bugs buzzing above its glassy surface. Boulders break up the river as it cascades down the mountainsides, the tree roots gripping and grasping along its banks. The river is fast, a torrent in places, angrily pummeling the rocks, the stones stoic, and steadfast as they bathe in the cold mountain water.

A cacophony of current, rapids, riffles, and swirls, with the sounds of insects humming, birds singing, a deer snaps a twig as it walks through the brambles along the bank. The river singing, breathing, hosting life in all directions, with everything it touches. It connects us all. A muskrat builds a small dam, fish frolic, and dance among the bubbles as the river carves its path downward and forward. An otter peeks its head, an Osprey chirps from its perch. It is not quiet, but the sounds of man absent. The sun warms the woods, the forest smelling of pine pollen, sap, warm dirt, and that distinct smell of a river rolling through.

The temperature of the air is cool along the corridor through the forest the river creates. The heavy conifer branches create a canopy the sun just breaks through, the rocks along the river cold holding onto the early morning, wet with dew, as if perspiring away the morning hours. An elk passes through the current on its way from one ridge to another. Drinking lightly from the water before cautiously walking into the woods. A squirrel chatters, a fish jumps for an insect, the river continues on.

Our river slows and widens, and a small, sleepy town sits along its banks. A valley forms, food is grown, as are animals, water feeding the town as it meanders now, grass thick like animal fur along its edges. Cotton woods hold tight and give the river shade from the warm sun. Beavers swim and tinker away at dams, fish abound, and the river grows. Another river joins ours further from the sleepy little town. The river spands the valley in places, wide and shallow, with riffles between sweeping bends. The water slows more as we meet a small man-made dam. Drawing resources from the river to feed industry. A lake forms, we see boats, people playing and enjoying the river.

The river continues on flowing from the dam into a canyon. Sheer walls of red stone hold the river in place. Slow and deep, the river rolls onward. Bighorn sheep looking on and down at the river from the steep walls they call home. An eagle laments as it is spooked from its perch by the sound of a car driving by. A road follows our river, above the canyon, looking out at a vast valley. The river and road twisting and turning in unison as they streak across the landscape. Eventually, our river is alone again on its journey. Flowing through shrub and sage land. It meets fellow larger rivers and joins in a journey oceanward. Breathing, flowing, giving, and changing as it moves further towards its end.

We all have a river. That river. Our river. Mine looks like this when I think about it. Each of us has our ideal water that brings us that sense of connection. Something that fills us. I have bore witness to many types of water. Our ideal water can change as we discover, explore, and seek out experiences and connections through water. When rivers are running cold, with ice and snow, fish sleeping, and the life a body of water brings; the song a river sings are more subdued. Muffled by the winters embrace. Think of your ideal water. Imagine new things to discover and explore. Seek out adventure and new experiences to chase when the thaw comes.

Tamarack

Offseason Update

The offseason has settled in. The snow has hit the highlands, the river is cold, in the clutches of winters grasp. The time for rest, reflection, and tying.

I spent 20 plus days on a road trip to Michigan for the start of the off season. I shared it with someone very close to me. At the end of 207 guide trips I wanted to get out of here for a good long while. I’d never seen Michigan or that far east. And while I could go on and on about the trip, it was a vacation and not really for others.

Michigan’s rivers are much different. With dark, rootbeer, and olive colored water, sand…everywhere, overhanging trees that have more flies than most boxes out west. There are Brown Trout…everywhere. Fuck Montana, I’ve never seen so many Browns in such small waters. Plus the Brook Trout, rainbows, lake run fish like salmon and steelhead, there are bass, and a lot of Pike and Musky. Different place, different fish, different kind of water. There are no mountains there, so there are no big cascading waters like we have out west. There are barely riffles in most of the water. These meandering streams half boggy swamps in places, with enough woody debris to feed a country of Beavers, are intricate, slow moving, and are PHD waters for casting, presenting, and playing trout with flies.

I say all this because I have been on a search for something different. I’ve been fishing the west and the Yakima for almost 20 years. I’ve fished the famous stuff, some of it 10 years ago now and I have to say it was probably better in a lot of those places back then. More people, more boats, more pressure. It wasn’t until I got out of Montana that I started to feel different.

The pull of western rivers is very strong. Rivers like the Clark Fork, or the MO, the Clearwater, these large wide tailwaters half a mile across in places. Of course the Yak…they have a pull. A draw to them. Even the smaller faster waters like the Bitteroot, St. Joe, or Rock Creek, Cle Elum, they are big, flowing from rocks and mountains, filled with snowmelt and rain, boulders and trees, pulling everything into thier depths…including an anglers passion and ambition to spend a lifetime exploring the depths for what might lurk waiting for a fly.

When I passed into the Dakotas the pull of those rivers ceased. Especially the Yakima. I have not felt the lack of thier presence in some time. And to have a sense of wonder and exploration for new water finally took over.

I have been wanting and planning to move forward with guiding new waters. Since covid those plans have been pushed back. I can’t wait any longer. I crave more, and to share and experience water, people, and fish in places other than just the Yakima and the west.

After this past season maxing out days and feeling beat and somewhat broken after it all here on the Yak, I need a change of pace. I’ve never wanted to just be a Yakima River Guide, and Washington is pretty lacking in water to fish and guide. And I only see more pressure and people fishing the only blue ribbon trout stream in the state. While I will always run trips on the Yakima throughout my career, the time to start guiding other places is now a necessity. I’ve run the most days, had big numbers in the net, caught some of the biggest and baddest trout, shared all of it with clients, experienced pretty much all the Yakima has to offer and then some. It’s time for more and different.

I will only be doing 100 to 150 days on the Yakima this season. After this past year I am ready to tighten things up and start moving guiding to other places. This past year was filled with a lot both on and off river. The tragedy from this season has also been a driver to move outward. I want to be in a place where I am not known, where I can just fish and guide, a different pace to things. And that’s hard here.

This was my last season guiding the Teanaway River. I have spent my time on that water, helped heal it, caught amazing trout, shared it with many, taught my kids to fish there, shared some happy times up there. It also has a lot of loss and sadness folded into that sandstone, forests, and mountains. I’ve been in those woods since I was a kid and have hiked all the trails, made the summits of all the mountains, fished all the waters. It has no pull on me anymore, it is changing up there. Becoming less wild, easier to access. And while I will always admire her beauty and reminisce of the countless days I’ve spent in her embrace; they Teanaway and I need time away from each other.

We will be fishing and guiding new and different small streams next season. And I will be guiding other waters in other states during our high-water in May and June the 2023 season. I’ll also be done earlier in 2023 only working until Oct 15th. I’ll be south next winter and finishing out trout season in other places. The Yakima will be a March and April, July-Oct 15th fishery for me moving forward. I’ll be focusing on tying flies through February this year and won’t start guiding the Yakima until March 2023.

I got booked out months this past year and I’m only working max 150 days on the Yak this season. So pick your dates accordingly. I physically and mentally don’t have more than 150 days in me on the Yakima. The toll of the heavy flows, boat, the kind of guiding I do, the people side, has become more apparent. I don’t want my body or my ability to produce on the level I’ve created to suffer due to overwork. Plus the Yakima River and I are at capacity in terms of pressure I’m willing to put on her. I’ve taught a lot of people to be very good anglers and that shows.

After this busy year its nice to slow down. I’m taking my time. I still feel parts of my body healing from the season. A lot of wear and tear on hips and shoulders. And as good as I am at guiding and fishing, I’m just as good if not better at tying flies and I am actually looking forward to tying this winter. In the past its been a necceassity to pay bills. Especially during covid. The enjoyment and creativeness of tying this off season is strong.

I have to remind myself and people, I’ve been at this for a good chunk of time running lots of trips, teaching anglers, fishing the same waters over and over. Literally over 1000 days on the Yakima. I’ve never been able to settle for too long and the Yakima has kept my attention for longer than most things. But I’ve discovered new adventures, new challenges, more fish, different people, and gorgeous places to be.

There is so much more to fly fishing and all that it entails outside of the Yakima and Washington but also the western states and PNW in general. From the people, the cultures, the fish, the places, and the experiences, there is more and I’ve only tasted it. I want to gorge on it. Like trout on Caddis.

I got to spend the first part of the offseason in quiet reflection over the course of my trip. With some down time to myself I’ve come to some realizations and conclusions. And while I will always call the Yakima River my homewater and always share it with others in some capacity. Like many in the guide life…we move onward and chase more. Look for me in Michigan in May and June. Book your days for the Yakima 2023 season early, grab those prime dates, once 150 are booked that’s it.

Changes are coming. And while they weren’t the original plans talked about riverside this season, they are changes and they are happening. I’m staying on with my independent guide service until the state makes me do otherwise, selling flies, guiding new places, running days on the Yak, and living that guide life. 2022 was my last full time season here in Washington. I’ve been a little quiet since the end of the season and the blog is the easiest way to put it out there.

So there ya go. Get your flies on order, book your Yakima dates early, look for new places and opportunities moving forward…fish and be happy anglers.

See ya riverside somewhere anglers.

Tamarack

Fishtober

The end of the season grind is here. I’m over 150 days in of guiding. The last 20 to 30 days available to book are here.  It’s been a season. One where I’ve had to pull myself up out of tragedy and some darkness. I’ve surrounded myself with family, close friends, and trout. I’ve spent more time in the woods this year and am camping the rest of the season until it’s over.

It’s been a different season with the off river stuff aside. And the guide life has had its run of shenanigans like a transmission costing me my winter savings, broken rods, 25% more overhead in fuel and food costs for trips, a June lull with the high water that didn’t help, and my guide rig getting smashed into and looted. There’s a flat tire and an axle problem in there somewhere too. A busy year both good and bad.

The fall is my favorite time and I’m one of the best this time of year. I’ve upped my guide game, gotten a little harder on clients, but still keep it pretty chill. I’ve had a great spring and decent summer run. This fall is shaping up to be one of the busiest. The end of October is still wide open with lots of good days to fill with trips and those anglers that aren’t faint of heart with the colder temps, have the chops to strap on those expensive waders and boots, layer up, and cast to hungry eager trout before they go down for the winter are rewarded with some of the best fishing you can find.

This early start to the fall has not disappointed.  It is here and the fish are big, plentiful and are dialed in and ready to smash flies. I’ve had some great days with lots of trout up.  I’ve had some tough days, but all have had shots at trout. And 80% on the dry all day erry day the past 2 weeks.

The season is a funky one. Trout are still on summer stones and some have switches to caddis. Mind you its October now and the fall bugs are just getting started as the trmps start to dip. We have almost 40 degree swings and that’s not super normal on an extended summer. Trees are starting to turn but it’s later this year. Like everything else. And that means fishing into November is a definite. Wooo!  Bwos and half days into the late season. Hot soup, bundled up, and casting little dries to big slurpy trout. Some of the hardest and most technical trouting one can get. It’s my favorite and is a short window every season.

This season saw a lot of new anglers. New faces and a lot of teaching. A lot of new starts and days with lots of missed shots but that’s part of this gig and I’m in it for the long haul building up clients and turning them into amazing anglers over time. And it’s going strong. The fall I get a lot of my regulars and anglers that have fished with me for 8 years. They can chase trout like the best of em. And I always look forward to those days as a guide in the late season. I’ve spent time and a lot of expertise teaching and guiding some of my anglers and those days can be some crazy days. And I’m always working clients that keep coming back and start out new to that level. It’s rewarding for everyone and it builds a brand and client base that follows me wherever I go.

The October Caddis are just getting started and that hatch will shift earlier and earlier into the day as it gets cooler. Craneflies are strong and still going. Lotta little fish on those this season. Big trout have been keyed up on summer stones since beginning of September and they keep hatching with the warm days.  The fish are just up on bigger bugs as the caddis are taking over the evening hatch as the stoneflies wane. And bwos are feeding aggressively in the low water algae growth and all the new riffles from the high water have made for some really neat holding amd feeding water for those little bugs. Big trout are on those little nymphs during the day in that faster and Boulder garden water eating the abundant small food source and then switch to big bugs as the light changes. Mornings and after 4 is big dry time. Dropper mid day.  Eggs and stones or caddis underneath for nymphing deep, and of course streamers always get nice fish with patience and work.  As it cools off the bwos will hatch and fish will fish on top even more, ravenous before the winter temps come in. So we get the best dry fly fishing there is on the Yakima over the next 30 days or so. It’s always good amd there are some chonky monster trout this season. Oooff. Like good fucken trout anglers.

There are days open and I’m always hungry for more before the winter creeps in. I’ll take days into November. There aren’t many left. 15 to 25 more guide days would be quite nice. I’d end on a solid 200 plus trips even with the June lull, and be good for the winter after a cost filled season.

Come on out. It’s always a good time in the fall.  Grab those waders and let’s get it anglers.

Tamarack