Well, I could go into a lengthy blog about the adventures I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of this season. The fish caught, the stories told, the good company. But there are so many this season I don’t know where to start. I am thankful for all that have come to chase trout with me this season. I have a trip this afternoon so I figured I would squeeze in a quick post before I head to the LC for a big cooperate float for one of the outfitters here.
I have not had the opportunity to fish myself as much as I would like this season. I have had to live through my clients and the experiences we have shared on the river this year. However, there was one day where I was able to venture out on foot alone for the majority of the day. Nothing special mind you, no large trout feeding cautiously that I stalked and tricked, no wildlife to flirt with, no major hatches coming off. In fact the day I recall was pretty uneventful save for few trout that were tricked by my cranefly.
No the day was just a regular day. The sounds and smells of autumn and the river enveloped the senses. The smells of the trees, a slight fishy smell of the decaying salmon, the sound of a quick riffle, the faint singing of frogs, a raven calls, the thicket shifts from a critter within, the distinct sound of a fish rising slowly on the surface.
My attention of course focuses on the trout. I watch intently, seeing the small cutthroat rise on occasion for the small BWO Mayflies that are sporadically hatching out of the riffle above the wild animal. My thumb taps the cork of my fly rod rhythmically, as if I have a tick that develops every time I see a trout feed. I want to cast to it, but I have the wrong fly on, the fish is on a slow easy feeding rhythm, and a part of me doesn’t want to bother this particular trout for some reason. Content with just watching this fish, I lay my fly rod and net down along a fallen log covered in damp moss. The clouds above are heavy with moisture, the moment is quiet, save for the riffle and the trout dimpling the surface ever so slightly. I sit along the bank, enjoy a smoke, and it is as if the trout knew I was there and was not a threat. It began to feed more aggressively. With slashes to the surface and showing its small head from time to time. The flash of neon orange from its cutts and the chartreuse shimmer of the tail as the trout moves about the feeding lie with ease. My hand twitches again but I stay it, relaxed and enthralled by this small wild westslope cutthroat no more than 12 inches or so.
There are days, especially this season, when I forget about the wild places I work in. I have to remind my clients to look up at the scenery and wildlife all the time. I have to remember to heed my own words when I walk the banks of my homewater. This life connects you to the wilds, and those of us who stop and listen from time to time, we learn things about the world that surrounds us but also about ourselves. This feeding trout is just a part of the puzzle. So much has to come together just for that trout to be there and be feeding actively. Even more has to come together for an angler to trick said trout. But this day I was content just observing that which was before me, without invading it, without making my presence known, just there, in the moment, watching a trout…do what a trout does. Wild and free, nothing but a few insects to eat, and a trout eager to eat them.
I am looking forward to the offseason. It has been a long season for me, with over 220 days on the river with guiding, fishing, conservation work, and snorkeling. My mind and body are ready for a type of hibernation. As are the trout as my boat and clients have been putting some hurt down this season. For the first time in a few years I long for snow covered peaks, the quiet of snow falling, and the cold and solitude that winter brings. After a season of telling the same stories, listening to many new ones, meeting hundreds of new people, and introducing them to hundreds of wild trout, a complete change of pace is something I look forward to. The sound of my skis as they run the snow between the trees, the crunch under my snowshoe, the snow covered landscape, devoid of people but full of quiet resting life. As I see the larches change, and feel winters frosty tendrils creep ever closer, as the river slows its pace…so do I. The mountains and woods are calling to me, as the river begins its long winter slumber. I hope to see everyone again next season. Meet new anglers, hear new stories, and enjoy this river and the wild trout within. As this season comes to a close, I am thankful, supporting my family with this gig and living this lifestyle is all I have ever wanted and it doesn’t happen without those who enjoy fly fishing and chasing trout with me.
I’ve got a good run of trips to finish out this month, I will take a week or two off afterwards to settle back into the life of being at home. Blogs, new website updates, some business expansion, and flies galore will pop up throughout the offseason.
Hope to see ya riverside before the snows fly.