Its December, which is my least favorite month of the offseason. It hasn’t been above freezing for days now, there is now on the ground, and most trout are in trout-cicle mode. The days are short, the nights are long, and even tough we are halfway through the non trouty time of year…we still have some time before I can start to get excited about the end of it all.
I am alive, just haven’t been focuses on the business much besides tying flies. Which has been great and I’ve sold over 1000 flies since I got back into tying and selling with any real purpose. Days during the offseason are hard for someone who spends most of the other days outside of winter, chasing trout, full of energy, and knee deep in river water. The slow pace of the offseason, by this time, is brutal. The boredom starts to set in, I have a hard time focusing on anything, and in all honesty…I really just miss my boat.
The Hog is put away, out in the garage away from the snow and elements. She’s buried behind and under stuff and my oars are wrapped up and put away out of the cold. I catch myself looking at my boat and wishing we were both rolling and rambling down the river. I can hear the water lap at the underside of the hull, I can feel the current lift the vessel up as I back stroke, the pull of the water against my body, the boat gliding to and fro across the river. The way the anchor rope sprays water across my face when I drop to hold a spot. Hopping over the gunwale and landing with a splash as I walk up to the next riffle careful not to spook the fish lying, lurking, waiting for a meal. I miss my boat.
December, just not the fishiest of months for a trout angler.
I check out in December, its that midway point where I know I still have 2 months before things start to get trooty again. I sleep in late, stay up early, and try and keep the fact that I still have plenty of time not to fish off my mind. My lady is working now, and hopefully getting a full time position at one of the local schools. My eldest kids leave everyday for school and my youngest and I are at home hanging out. Let me tell you, hanging with a 4 year old is pretty fun. Throughout the trout season this past year Z was always telling me that my trips were the longest ever, being gone for weeks at a time she still is getting used to the lifestyle that her siblings have grown accustomed to. She tends to sleep in my arms in the mornings and I am lucky to have a young one that is so easy going. She definitely makes the offseason more bearable with her shenanigans and general awesomeness. Its been a while since I had a 4 year old at home as her older brother is 9. I still catch myself thinking, damn, we sure did wait a while in between to have that last kid.
The calls for when I will be back are starting to come in. I have calls and messages asking what plans are, when I will start guiding again, can people reserve days…that cabin fever is setting in with anglers now.
I will be back on the Yak in the early spring. Plan is to leave here around the 15th of February and spend the first few weeks looking at when things will thaw, when the hatches will start, and what other fish might be ready for some anglers. I am watching the snow pack levels now, checking to see how the snow piles up and what kind of water supply we may have for the trout season. The snow pack tells me what I can look forward to or trout fishing on the Yakima. I am hoping for a better year than the last. Snow pack was great last year but yet again it warms to fast and we have major runoff events that put a damper on fishing in the spring and early summer. The snow leaving quickly also left us with a hot and dry summer with fishing conditions getting really crummy in August. Its kinda the new norm, and no matter how much work is done in conservation, I can’t make it snow more, melt slower, or do much of anything about it. With this gig you get what the river gives you and you do your best without jeopardizing the resource.
Last spring sucked on the Yak. It was blown out a lot, we missed hatches due to it, and it seems that it gets busier and busier riverside. So February and March there will be some trout fishing, but there will be other fish too, like bass and pike. I will be spending time in the first few weeks of the season getting reacquainted with the water and fish that aren’t trout. I spent a lot of time chasing other species with fly and rod and part of this new adventure is getting back into those fisheries. I will also be looking at work in other states and on other rivers for trout, places less effected by climate change that give anglers and myself more options and new experiences. The past 4 years I have focused all my attention on the Yakima, building that part of the business up, working on conservation, and putting people on those beloved wild trout. This coming season I will be focusing on fishing more, working more, and exploring and rediscovering fisheries. The end of the 2018 season I fished more than I have in the past several years. I fished literally everyday whether with clients or by myself. That trend will continue once I get back into it in a few long weeks.
Don’t despair anglers, we are over the hill now, we just have to get back down the other side. Now is the time I start tying for myself and the guide year, sell more flies, and start the daily routine of checking snow pack, weather forecasts, management and rule changes, conservation opportunities, and blogging and engaging my client base regularly. Sorry I have been dormant for most of the offseason up to this point. It was a kinda rough trout season, but its a new year, a new adventure, and the cabin fever is slowly turning into that drive for fish snacking flies, pulling line, and getting me all hot and bothered.
Hope to see you out there this coming season. Things are percolating slowly now as I patiently wait for the offseason to end…and I can get back into my boat.