During the past two seasons I camped most nights along the river. You start to get on the river rythym. Your internal body clock starts to sync up with a more natural I guess primal timing.
I mix that type of schedule into my guiding it ends up producing some really amazing moments. I fish and guide when trout eat. No 9 to 5 here. In the spring we start late and are chasing that afternoon hoover fest as water temps start to perk up as we move into March and April.
Its still pretty wintery out there anglers. It just snowed a chunk up in the mountains again and more is headed to the higher elevations. But the days are longer and I can already feel the change in the suns position every morning.
The body is already starting to shift. It starts with naturally waking up earlier each day. By mid February I am naturally waking at 7 am, ready to start the fishing by 10. By May its 5:30 am and the late evenings also start where I am off river around dark or 9:30 some nights. By the summer its 4 am and on river by 6 and off by 2. Take a nap, snorkel, fish bass, fish the river in the evenings if water temps are good, but its all about that early morning to 11 am time frame until September. Then it settles back to that 7 am start by 10 off at dusk, until October closes out and hibernation sets in.
I have learned to just let myself flow through the rythym and not fight it. 5 years of working that kind of way becomes habit. But it also triggers the cabin fever really bad. It hasn’t hit feverish levels, that sun pokes out and it gets worse. Even driving by the river makes my body want to be in the boat with the current under me. I saw a boat yesterday while running errands and was super envious.
I have learned how to cope and curb that feeling over the seasons but it lingers heavy in the few weeks leading to things perking up. By mid February its too heavy and I typically find myself yanking my boat over ice berms at take outs because I just can’t help myself. Or launching boats down snow covered hillsides on the Joe in April in ridiculously high flows. That cabin fever makes you get silly if you let it. Its the kind of thing that got me stranded on the wrong side of the river on the Cle Elum one spring, stuff like that and others will learn ya up real quick. Patience. It pays off.
I like to fish when the fish are ready. Its why I will head west for steelhead next week if the rivers simmer down a bit. Its not ready here for trooting. The first two weeks of February have to get here before things percolate in the LC. We still need a good storm or three to fill out our snow pack for the summer. We don’t need a drought this year.
It leaves time to tie. Something I have a lot of time for. I have started tying flies for the guide box. Over the seasons I have the amount and patterns I need down. Its less than you might think. Except pats stones….literally hundreds a season. Its ridiculous. But tying for the hatches and spending more time targeting dry fly and steamer eaters you end up needed a few dozen per hatch. Tying them myself they tend to last longer too. I am also picky with flies these days. I like to use certain things, and not always my own. Like gypsy kings, I will get a lot of those in orange typically when things get busy. I end up adding patterns and taking some out of rotation a lot. But you do settle on some. One of my favorite is the PMX in Royal. Great fly, works for lots of things…a bitch to tie. I like to buy those ones. But starting to fill up my boxes with my flies is always a grest feeling. Its a part of the pre season lead up that I really have come to enjoy.
The few weeks leading up to the early spring fishing gets the brain moving too. You start thinking troot. How the river will change in the high water, new trees down, new gravel bars in the upper, the spring brings all kinds of new things. The wait makes it that much sweeter.
I am especially looking forward to this spring. The fall and late season brought in a lot of really big trout…and they didn’t go anywhere…and they only get bigger over the winter. We have a large population of adult fish that were juvenile during the 2015 drought and made it through hearty. They are going to wake up and be really hangry in a few weeks and it should be absolutely glorious. Streamers anglers….mmm.
So filling up the next few weeks with flies, maybe some steelhead, chasin troot on the warm days, getting the boat out soon, all the stuff and the things that come with the final countdown. Its roughly 60 days until the official first day of spring. But troot wake up a little earlier. 45 days or so. I hate to say it but it has started for me. Just patiently and anxiously waiting.