I have come out of hibernation from the winter. I have been driving around, watching the river, paying close attention to the weather, venturing riverside when conditions present themselves, trout season is upon us. Today I took the time to prep for the season. Rods were sent out for repair, insurance renewed, new seats for the boat were ordered, another new axle for the trailer. The boat is getting some much needed TLC, touching up chines, new anchor rope, a good scrubbing, draining the hull, got some water in it this winter.
I have been tying, I have slowed down as we have gotten closer to the spring, my brain and fingers burnt out on tying, my arm yearns to cast hundreds upon hundreds of times. I can feel my back and arm muscles ache and twitch as I prep my body for the season. My sleep schedule has changed so that I wake with the sun. A much needed camping trip will really help reset my internal clock. The first thing I do every morning is check the river flows and water temps while rubbing the sleep away from my eyes. My mind focuses even more than usual as I patiently and anxiously wait…this season is especially exciting. Hatch journals are being perused, fishing logs are being looked through, flies are being organized, leaders being tied, clients being called, deposits being taken, the guide life is in full swing.
Throughout the winter I watched gleefully as the snow piled and pile outside and in the mountains. Feet upon feet of snow, compared to the literal zero feet we got last season. Now the thaw is on, and the entire watershed is swollen. Its such a wonderful sight to see as water of this amount has not been seen in several seasons, last year was just the culmination of four progressively worsening winters. To see my river act like her proper self is a fulfilling thing when I watched as she slowly evaporated away and was a mere trickle, weak and lifeless in places. She is a torrent, almost vindictive and spiteful of her previous self with her runoff flow. Flooding and making her presence known to the valley’s inhabitants with a wrathful current of brown angry water, reminding everyone and everything that this is her valley, her mountains, this is her home. Despite her dams and other man made impediments, she shows us that if she wanted…she could wash everything away and start anew.
The Teanaway is a heartwarming sight. The freestone tributary with its massive, dark, muddy water harboring just as much vengeance in her flow as her bigger sister. The younger sister of the Yakima is the main culprit of the ferociousness of the river. Daring and inviting to the the trout with her flow, I am looking forward to seeing the Teanaway this season. Will those larger cutthroat make their way into the headwaters to bring forth the next generation of these ancient and native fish that I hold so dear? Just to see so much water and snow is such a wonderful sight. It makes the anticipation of the season that much more difficult to battle.
But to see the rivers with so much flow, healthy, brown spring run off flow, makes each day the water recedes that much sweeter, knowing that the trout are sheltered waiting just as I am, and when the river calms, the trout will be hungry and just as angry as she that bares them. Hangry Trout are the best kind. Soon the trout will be active, they have wintered very well, with full bellies and healthy color ready to spawn later this spring they will be a sight to behold this spring. They will have a more normal year, a year where they can have respite, and act like their normal wild selves, not sheltering in the coldest parts of the river, or hiding throughout the day and only coming out at night. No, this season will be such a different experience than last season. I am so looking forward to being re-introduced to these wild fish when their environment acts more natural.
There is nothing quite like a wild trout that is tricked by a fly when it least expects it on a pristine day. Especially when stalking a large wary 2’fer (2 footer) in gin clear water with a 12 foot leader and 15 inches of 5X flouro, with a size 14 dry fly. A good cast, a nice long drift, the trout moving into position….the anticipation of the rise…wait…wait…SET! The tug, the angry surprised pull and headshake of a trout fighting against the invasion into its world. An angler tested, a good net, a welcome moment, a good release, and a proper handshake. With every fly I tied all winter that thought went through my mind. Dozens upon dozens of trout tricked in my head…now its time to chase them for real. Trout season is upon us…and the last bit of anticipation is always the hardest but also the sweetest. So I patiently wait for the river to calm, but she has a lot to be angry about, so I will enjoy seeing her act like her normal self again. She’s almost done…she’ll be more inviting and friendly to the angler again. Then driftboats and rafts will be seen all over town, anglers will venture forth, and the pursuit of trout will be ever present on the homewater.
Hope to see you riverside this season.