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Summertime during the ‘rona

Well. This year sucks. Just all around sucks as everyone knows. Everyone is dealing with it in some way. And its not just the virus, its a list of things on a global, national, local, and all the way down to the individual level. Shit sucks.

So that might be why trips have slowed way down, its not my first economic shitstorm, its not my first slow summer, and its not my first year the Yakima River has been cold hearted and down right mean most days. She’s nice like once a week.

It was pretty busy there at the start of things opening. But as we can all see…it hasn’t gotten that much better virus wise. So I get why things are weird, we all get it in some way. Every single client, every single one….has brought it up along with a myriad of other things that are on people’s mind during this crazy time in our lives. Its been an interesting season fosho.

Fish seem to be a secondary thing. It seems that people are more just into the being out and doing something. And that is great when the river is being persnickety and I have built my trips on the experience not the fish. I also have to mention that I have never had a season where clients have been this open with perosnal feelings, opinions, deep conversations…its been a very human heavy experience as opposed to fish.

Its odd, not in a negative way, just a noticable and rather different way people have been this season. Maybe thats a benefit of all this crazy…we start to connect human to human again. The importance of that is immeasurable and something that has been lost in this world. I feel privileged to have a career that affords me that direct connection with so many different people each day we share the river.

While the fishing has been weird. It started off with a bang. But big water, and wicked cold water are the culprit right now. A mild start to the summer, colder temps for longer up high made the snow come off more normal this season. Been a while since irrigators got 100% across the board. And the fishing is showing that. I don’t like to sell the river when it isn’t producing, so to speak, and I always tell it straight in live updates. Ask the clients I have had and they will tell you, working our asses off and just getting it handed back to us. Part of the game we play fly fishing. I am used to it…but its still maddening.

A few other things make it funky this year. Lots of traffic, like a lot. And with covid closing a single access point off also puts more pressure in other sections which is also affecting things. Take it from someone who has sat in snorkel gear underwater and watched boat after boat pass over a run with fish and after about 10 the fish move out of range of things. And they take longer to reset the more constant the pressure. They adapt very quickly to their environment, when a bunch of boats, floaters and traffic is going over head and lots of fish get caught and spice things up down there…the trout adapt and switch over to other holding water, other food, and wait until things change to their benefit. I have seen it with my eyeholes. So the amount of traffic is a factor at times too.

So there’s a lot going on, off and on river. Personal life off river is just as weird. With truck shenanigans, slow work, just a lack of doing things I normally do. I usually go out and do stuff this time of year, fish, snorkel, camp, hike, but with how slow work is, and with how crowded things are and all the other shit…I end up staying in most of the time. Don’t even get me started on how weird sleep is.

With all that this its been hard to focus, hard to do a lot of things. And even after unplugging on the Joe and fishing in that dreamscape of trouty-ness, I still just feel off. Like everyone I know, but it helps to put it out there and I honestly have nothing else to blog about.

The heat is here and so is the big water. Running at 3800 cfs now. Big flows…awww ya. The grasshoppers are here, and the summer stones are showing up early! A few more days of this heat and these flows and the fish will settle in. They will….and they will eat. The big problem with eats right now is water temperature. Its been hovering at the 50 to 53 degree mark since things opened. Every time it warms to prime levels, we get more water in the system from the reservoirs…which has kept it cool. Great for trout, tougher for fishing. They just don’t have to eat that much when its that cold, and they eat mostly caddis off the bottom when its this cold and this big. Snorkeling shows you a lot. And when we could pump stomachs back in my earlier days every fish had a belly full of caddis in some form from May to end of June anyway. Its the most abundant food source here…and its mostly on the bottom of the river. Which is also where currents and flows are slowest. And at 3800 cfs and 52 degrees or less down there…why would trout eat anything else? And fishing for them is usually 6 to 8 feet down, but most of the fish are still out of reach. Wanna nymph 10 to 15ft down and drift 15 miles of river and basically just mend all day….me neither.

Now that flows are up and temps are up its gonna warm and fish will have to eat more and seek out other food. Hence the hoppers, stones, and steamers. Thats why fishing the LC has been a bit better on days. Because the water temp hits 54 and 55 and boom! Light switch on for trout eats.

We are almost there in the upper. This week. I have had a few days that flirt with that switch but not a full on. Here very soon, since its almost 90 out the past few days…and we will be there. Already starting to see the caddia harch, the stoneflies on the banks, and you can hear the hoppers. And the flows are big…so fish will be right up on the bank soon.

We will be starting floats wicked early soon too. And this weirdness now only means awesomeness for the fall. October caddis shoukd be amazeballs this season with all thos water making it so they don’t get stranded during the flip flop when flows drop like last year. There is also the maybe of things being better world wise in the fall.

I will be out on the river here leading up to the weekend as I am fairly certain that switch is gonna get flipped. I have lots of days open for the summer fishing and the hopper fishing!!! God I love hoppers and this is a great year for them with the big water. Mmmmm….big foamalicious hoppers and big slappy eats.

I invite you to come out and fish the summer. I know its weird. But its a safe activity during these times. Get a half day in, fish, enjoy some time unplugged, maybe trick a trout or two. Share a day with your favorite human, or fishing partner, let me facilitate some stress relief for ya, and we can all get through this shit show together and trick some trout and laugh a bunch along the way.

See ya riverside anglers.

Tamarack

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