Its been a bit since I posted. Been sick and busy and just haven’t had anything to really write about lately. I haven’t even been tying really as I have been sick and uninspired to sit at the vise. There have been a few awesome things that have happened over the past two weeks.
My license came which was cool. I always like having a permit or license for guiding, when I was backpacking and snowshoeing and I had my permit I was one of the only people who did and that felt really neat. There are a lot of guides on this river and a lot of people who renew every year, but it feels pretty wicked to have one again and I always found it to be a more “official” steward of the river or something. I also joined TU as an endorsed guide which is pretty cool for me, and goes hand in hand with being the Secretary of our new Yakima River Headwaters TU Chapter.
I also got a chance to take The Kid, from my previous posts, out on the river for a lesson/walk and wade. What a time, it felt really good to work on the river and share my expertise and knowledge with someone. Especially a young angler. It was an absolute blast talking myself out of a voice, aggressively wading the river with him, and working water while giving knowledge and insight. This of course brings me to the meat of the post today and what I like to call… Winging It.
Winging It is how I role…like all the time. Now don’t be “scurred”. A lot of preparation and thought goes into Winging It. While I was working on the hiking and backpacking trails of the woods here, I found that nothing ever goes according to plan. In fact throughout my adult life, just about…nothing goes to plan. When it all boils down, being able to properly wing it depends on two things, both of which I have become pretty good at: Expertise and The “Dude” Approach.
Expertise: Pretty simple, you can’t wing it properly without knowing what the hell you are doing. Knowing your quarry, knowing the river, knowing everything you possibly can, then researching it, testing it, discovering it for yourself, and putting in the time makes you an expert. Anyone can be an expert, if you put the time in. For those who know me, really know me, and those who have fished with me, I wouldn’t be a guide if I myself didn’t feel confident in my abilities. In order to be a “professional” or “expert”, dues must be paid and time must be put in…a lot of time.
The “Dude” Approach: Or being, Super Laid Back. Its fishing, it shouldn’t be stressful. Even slow days shouldn’t be stressful. You just gotta roll with it man. On any given day, especially when dealing with the outdoors, rivers, and trout, things are gonna happen that are not factored in. It may be nasty wind, a crummy hatch, leap frogging other boats all day, or just a bad fishing day, just rolling with it and making the best of what you are dealt is a pretty good approach. “Hey Dude, it beats working,” is a good motto, but being laid back pays off and it feeds into your clients and people you fish with. This doesn’t mean having low expectations or anything like that, it just means realizing that, “Hey, even if there isn’t any trout in the net, its still fishing, and at the end of the day…it beats doing just about anything else.” At least for me. Besides, a laid back or Dude approach keeps things nice and fluid, stress levels are down, and things stay fun. If I learned anything while hiking the woods with people here, its that enjoying the day for what it is, is the best way to do it.
Winging It requires a lot of preparation. Lets detail briefly what goes on for me before taking someone out on the river.
It starts with the interweb. Flows, weather, reports, temps, barometric pressure, fishing pressure, and bug activity all factor in to the preparation stage. Then, I typically hit the river a day or two before the trip, even if its not a paying client, I still want the experience to be as positive as possible and that requires getting on the water oneself and figuring things out. I look at myself as a tuning fork for the anglers in my boat. Its my job to keep everyone on pitch and if I don’t know what tune the river is singing I can’t do my job right. I refer to my fishing journals a lot as well. I have logs of data and stories from my time on the river, and going back and reading things from previous years always helps me get in the right mindset for the day. Reading over the journals also allows me to get on the river without actually, getting on the river. I am able to recall most of the river from memory, spots, bends, log jams, boulders, troughs, seams, all that stuff is filed away in the crazy system I have in my head and using my journals helps recall it and helps me prep.
Once I have been on the river, I sit at the vise. It allows me to calm down, get in the groove, and also tie up some flies for the day. While I tie I go over the game plan for day on the river. I tie up flies while getting the last of that tuning in sync. It also allows me to go over the float in my head, how I would like to approach this area, river right didn’t fish so good so remember to hit the left side after that bend. I run over scenarios depending on the info I have learned about my clients previously. How much experience do they have, what are their expectations, what to do if things are off or slow? All these things come together and finalize while tying up a half dozen flies or so.
So…”Winging It” may sound like I just grab my stuff and its a major crapshoot, but in reality, there is a lot of homework that goes into being able to Wing It effectively. The bottom line is, if you put in all that prep work, you have a better understanding of the potential for the day on the river. You are also more prepped for a not so great day as well. There are lots of days that don’t require near the work described above. The river can be on and require a bit less thought during the right time of year, but part of the fun for me is getting it all dialed in and tuned up to make the day that much better. The trout just make it more awesome.
Now…its my Birthday and I am gonna enjoy the rest of the day nice and laid back and prep for the river on Wednesday.