Passion. It only gets you so far in this gig. I love to fly fish. I put myself into it fully. From the day to day fishing, the guiding, the homework, the research, the knowledge, conservation, all the things that make me what I am are wrapped up in fly fishing. That passion runs deep. But it only gets you so far.
Last season and this season are shaping up to be about the same…pretty meh. Now that’s not the fishing…because both this year and last the fishing was phenomenal except for that 3 weeks at the end of the summer when it just got too hot and smokey to chase trout.
The fishing this year has been great. Bitchen skwalla hatch, great March Browns, low water all spring due to the drought. But the trips…ya they sucked I’ll be honest. The ones I did were great, had a blast…but it wasn’t enough. 50 plus days of spring and less than half guided. That’s not good. It’s not good for me, and it sucks for clients and anglers because they truly are missing out.
I say this because at the end of the day I still have to make money at this. Can’t pay the bills with laughs and damp handshakes. The fall of last season and the start of this season required a lot of bending over backwards to make happen. Last fall I called it early due to the poor trip numbers. Fishing was amazing last fall…but the guiding was not. Same with this spring and even now with the start of summer.
This year is gonna be tough with the lack of snow and the drought coming our way hard this late summer. I have been taking advantage of the absolutely amazing fishing since April with this lower than normal flow. I try and get in while it’s the least invasive to the trout because come late summer you won’t see me riverside after 2 PM weather its enforced by a hoot owl or not. 65 plus degree water temp is inevitable this summer and I won’t fish or guide when it’s that warm. So I’m hitting it hard now when it’s as good as it can get this year. Problem is…I seem to be the only one thinking this way.
Why am I saying all this? Well, this year is shaping up to be lighter than last at this rate. As a business owner I’m trying to remedy that. Typically I’d have 3-5 trips a week as we get into June but that’s not the case and it seems to be continuing that trend. Which makes me wonder if everyone is planning on summer trips when it’s not going to be as good. Trout fishing in warm weather is never really that good. Trout are cold water temperate climate critters. When water temps jack in the summer, fishing tends to be not as good. Which is why fishing before all that nastiness hits is what I’ve been trying push.
As a guide it’s frustrating and as an angler it sucks. I put a lot of time into putting up reports, getting anglers up to speed, I fish more than anyone else out here…if someone was here fishing as much as me I’m pretty sure I would see them riverside. And in the past that kind of work ethic and philosophy has served me well. That has not been the case this past summer and fall and now through the spring.
Those reports, that knowledge, the updates, the videos, the flies, the photos, all that stuff from emails to text messages to posts to trip inquiries…it all is funded by trips. I am so grateful to all those that come out and support the guide community on rivers across the west and none so much as those that come here to the Yakima with me.
However, the industry here on the Yakima can be a tough one and years like this make it harder. When battling low trip numbers, low water, lots of pressure, and continued issues with climate change and snow pack the Yakima makes it harder than just trying to trick some of the trout that live in it.
When I post that things are good they really are. There is no BS with me. I have no secrets. I only like to sell trips when I think they will give anglers the best opportunity. So when I say you’re missing out…you are. Part of being a fly angler is realizing that sometimes that hatch only lasts 2 weeks, those flows are only here for a bit longer, those temps are good only for so long, and as an angler…if you want to experience it…you need to be there.
The other thing that is lost when guide trips are not rolling…people are not out enjoying these natural public resources with professionals like myself, really learning and getting the full experience. It is much different with me on a trip than a day on your own or with friends fishing. If you’re not out in these places, enjoying them, guided or not, then you may not care about them as much, may not understand the issues and concerns they face, anglers, guides, river peeps, we all have that in common…a love for these places and a desire to make them better than they are so we can all continue to enjoy them.
A big part of my trips are getting anglers and ‘would-be’ river stewards on the up and up with what’s happening to their favorite places to catch trout. It’s part of the unwritten rule of being a voice for the river and trout I follow when I became a guide.
I’ve known that these things will come and be part of the puzzle that is guiding on the Yakima. Adding another river is supposed to help but it’s a lot of wait and see if it works out right now which compounds the stress of being a guide. I’ve spent more of my time catching fish myself and not with clients. I don’t need to catch anymore trout…but you might.
Plus the Yakima is my homewater…and I’ve gotten really good at guiding it and I want to continue to guide, conserve, and protect this place and share it with others. But that only works if the guide calendar has dates on it.
Anglers are missing out. Guided trips, at least with me, are so much more than just putting you on fish. Sure I can do that, but so can any other Yahoo with a boat and some basic river and trout know how. I’ve spent the better part of my adult life becoming a true professional guide and especially here on the Yakima River. Guided trips are about teaching, learning, unplugging, connecting with nature, facilitating stress relief, and giving other anglers more to be passionate about. A life without passion is quite a boring life. Passion into fly fishing is by far one of the best activities to put it into.
Passion separates those who just row and net fish with those who want clients to understand the fish…because understanding the why, how, what, where of the trout is what a guide does, relaying, deciphering, the river for others so that they too can fully enjoy the experience. And at the end of the day, leaving clients with a better understanding of trout, rivers, and fly fishing so that recreating or making a better experience for oneself or for the next guide trip is attainable.
There is much more to a guide trip than just catching fish…if you let it. My trips are so much more than just fish in the net and I invite anglers new and old to come experience it this season on the Yakima.
I can make two promises with my trips…its gonna be fun. No matter the number of fish. It’s always a good time. I go out of my way everyday to make sure of it. The second promise; when you leave…you’re gonna want to come back…whether on your own or on another trip…and when you do…you’ll be better prepared and have more skills to have success fly fishing.
So come on out…see what it’s all about…the goldens are popping and if you’re not fishing….you’re missing out. That passion I have…its contagious and I am very forthcoming with it.