If you’ve fished with me this season or have been following my social media posts, you know I moved away from the homewater. It’s gotten harder and harder to live and only work here. Kittitas County has had over a 17% increase in the cost of housing on top of basically nothing available anyway. There’s only so much guiding work and even less other kinda work. My family and I also can’t live the way we want with the strict regulations on tiny house and self sufficient living. So we moved, we had an opportunity come our way and we took it. It’s east and north so Spokane. Little 12 acre area, we are living semi off grid and self sufficient. Tiny houses, wood fire heat, chickens, rabbits, I’m getting myself a goat, full garden and a few friends living there with us. Pretty sweet, my family and I are stoked.
I am also expanding my guiding with this transition. I love the Yakima, and I will always work the summer and fall seasons here…it’s my homewater, where I learned, cut my teeth, and have caught the majority of the trout in my career. I have fished other places for trout, salmon, steelhead, and warm water freshwater species like bass and pike…and that’s all well and good. Over my guiding career I plan to add back in Bass and Pike in the spring near my new digs, look at working out of state in ID and MT in the spring too. No more Yakima in the spring. For a few reasons.
The Yakima is not a spring fishery. It’s always a crapshoot and the past 4 seasons back at guiding it seemed liked I was chasing literally 12-24 trips between February and Memorial Day. I’m sure I could do more…but I really don’t want to. I know how this river fishes in the spring…slow and cold…with lots of chances of crazy run off and funky salmon pulse flows. The Yak is not a spring time fishery and tying to squeeze trips in poor conditions for opportunity at 5-10 trout on nymphs just isn’t doing it for me anymore. Not really bringing in the clients either. I’ve always been brutally honest about the fishing. Why lie? It serves no purpose except stroking ego. So I will be shifting focus to other species in the spring up to Memorial Day. Pike…Large Mouth Bass, Small Mouth Bass, and Musky. It’s been a while since I’ve chased those predatory fish…and frankly, since my new place is closer to lakes and rivers that have those species in abundance….I’m stoked to get back into it. May even get a skiff for it this winter…mmm.
So that’s a big change. My beardy face won’t be here during the thaw. I won’t miss it. This season really did me in on this decision and it’s just gotten a little silly trying to compete for the few trips in the spring. Not living here full time anymore basically eliminates the need or want for it. I can recommend some amazing guides that work the spring and always will but it’s not for me anymore. It also doesn’t make a lot of sense business wise when you really break it down. Spring trips cover costs…that’s about it, if that. That pesky college degree keeps telling me it’s time to expand out of the homewater. So why keep investing time and energy in something that doesn’t produce a good product? Why try and sell a fishery that isn’t really ready? Trout bums talking business…what have I become!? But I’ve got a family to support and I want to do it with fishing…so you gotta go big or get a ‘regular’ job.
Then of course there is the off season. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become less stoked about cold weather. And after an avy scare, losing a few friends to the mountains, and getting older and having 3 kids…I just don’t really like the snow and cold anymore. And I don’t like fishing for steelhead or salmon in the winter. It’s cool to do for a day or two, and I will totally go do it or hire a guide for a day on the OP or something. But it’s not keeping me here and I’d never work it. Just not my thing.
Fishing and guiding 100-150 days a year on the Yak just isn’t t enough fishing for me either. As I’ve gotten past 30, my kids aren’t babies and toddlers anymore, and my life in general is pretty sweet, there is one thing I haven’t been content with. I want more fishing and adventure. And that makes me anxious. A few wars ago it was the call to conquer mountains and trails, and before that it was to chase fish. I want to chase more fish these days. I want to learn more, understand more, just soak up all I can about fishing with fly and rod. I’ve run out of stuff with trout. So I want to move on to fisheries that intimidate me, chase new species that make my butthole perk up when they eat and run. I want to experience more culture, more of the fly angling world. When I first started out here on the Yak; I always knew I’d never be satisfied or satiate my want to chase fish with just the Yakima River. I also don’t want to be 50 years old and only have ever been a Yakima Guide. I want more. I need more.
So I’m headed south as many of my clients know. When I first started learning the Yakima I just let myself be enveloped by it all. Just fished all the time…this was before children and all I was doing was going to college. So I fished almost every day in some form. When I got my boat it got worse and I just started spending time riverside. This was after kids and my lady will tell you…I skipped out a lot to fish. I settled down for a bit and tried some other types of guiding and outdoor activities, also helped raise a family with my wife. But it’s like I have ants in my pants now. And the kids are older now, we are more stable both financially and as a family…it’s time for change and adding more to our lives! We get bored really easy and I’ve already got 3 kids. So we will add more fish instead.
I was always told the best way to learn this fly fishing thing…is to go do it. I’m using the same approach to the south salt water. I want to be out of my comfort zone, in new territory, with new challenges and craziness. But most importantly new fish and water to learn. I want to spend the next 10 years learning something new and becoming proficient at it. So I’m headed south to start with Redfish, and work my way around the area to see what else I can trick with a fly. Tarpon, snook, my son wants me to catch a barracuda for some reason. I’d like to see what a shark is like too. But going to discover it for myself is half the fun. Figuring out what I’ll like and dig the most. It’s new!
I’d like to start working it in the future but that’s not my top priority right now…education and fishing are. Relocating down there for part of the year, which is being made possible with this new move, will also free me up to just fish and learn. Looking at a new boat for down there too! Being there on the ground also lets me get involved in the conservation efforts there. If I’ve learned anything in the past 4 years being involved with conservation…it will educate you on the fisheries real good.
So that’s what all the hub-bub has been about. Things are changing, I am moving on in my angler development to add more to my experience and hopefully start sharing it with clients and fellow anglers for the next 30 years. There are 365 days in a year and I’d like to fish and work more than 150 of them. Ever since I was 18 and hooked my first trout on a fly rod I knew…I wanted a life that was filled with fly fishing. As I got older I realized I make an okay guide and people seem to dig my jams. The past 4 seasons back at guiding full time have been amazing and I want more, and not just hosting a trip here and there, I want to dive back into angling and get lost in it, have it test and challenge me in new ways…it’s that need for adventure, that crave for adrenaline, and the love of tricking fish with flies…it’s been on pause for a bit with life, kids, and all the other stuff besides fishing…but not anymore. Shit is on now. Time to go play.
Time to chase fish. And by the way…the Yakima is fishing absolutely awesome in the upper right now. And drakes are here…mmmmm.