Survival…not a word many of us use on a daily basis. A concept that we as a species in many places no longer have to worry for. This pandemic has changed things and the meaning of that word for many.
Like the species we chase, constantly in survival mode. It is the entirety of a trout, salmon, or steelhead, or any fish, life history….survival. From egg, to fingerling, to adult, spawning, it is a journey of survival.
Like the fish I chase, I find myself in survival mode. The toll the season or lack of one due to the pandemic has come due. Scrape enough to get this order finished, get that bill paid, send that order, wait on this one, push that stuff back another 2 weeks. Its been a constant struggle juggle since the lockdown back in the spring.
With news coming from WDFW about new rules on the West Side and Peninsula fisheries I am worried for my guide colleagues and friends, other business owners, and the like. On top of the pandemic the added stress of our fisheries management across the state only exacerbates everything.
Thinking ahead, survival is still the mode I will be in. I see a good 16 months to recover from this debacle for my business. Looking ahead I am also thinking its time for a change in things. With the very likely probability that salmon and steelhead fishing opportunities will continue to diminish places like the Yakima will receive added pressure. This season showed that in full swing. When the Peninsula stuff shut down during the summer we had a massive influx of guides and anglers unlike I have seen. It made me not wanna guide here this summer. Just a lot of pressure and people. And I am not the only local guide that experienced this. But its going to happen as things change we in the industry have to as well.
I’ve gotta get outta here in the summer. Like what I attempted on the St. Joe last year. Guide somewhere else during the summer months. Put pressure on a watershed that has regulations and plenty of days and a need. Go where I’m needed and can do what I love. Great thing about this gig…its done wherever fish live. I never intend to only every work and guide here. Idaho, Montana, at this point I don’t care. Still wanna add southern fisheries in the winter and early spring but that will have to wait again.
This winter gives a lot of time to contemplate and plan. Its also a time to sell flies. Its the only thing keeping me going right now and its light AF compared to last winter. Flies pay bills, keep me from buying flies during the season, and keep me from going absolutely bonkers from boredom…which is already setting in. With covid, and the shit happening on the other side of the mountains fishery wise I have opted to not chase steel and salmon at all this season. I had hoped…but no. Can’t afford it, don’t really wanna chase it, and this just doesn’t feel like the time to get more into it for me, honestly. I don’t have to worry about return numbers on my homewater.
With the winter setting in, and the long waiting just beginning shit is gonna get tough. Cabin fever and me don’t agree, and this season feels like one giant cabin fever session in many regards. Trying to look forward to the next season is hard. I have gotten so accustomed to playing things week by week, looking further out seems foreign.
Trying to look at early reservation specials for spring trips, but also try and push bookings for later in the year. Fill the calendar before it gets here. Hopefully a winning strategy as we start to come out of this pandemic. Which we hopefully will as the vaccine comes out; but not before we have more restrictions and social distancing it seems.
There’s a lot happening to our industry right now. Many of us are hurting, like me and friends and fellow guides. Many are worried they won’t get a winter season in, like many of us this spring. When guides are hurting so are the anglers that frequent their boats. Its hard for a lot of people right now, every client that came out has been impacted by this professionally, finacially, and or personally. Many I didn’t see because of those impacts. None of it good. So flies aren’t bought, shops don’t have patrons coming in, guide days left open.
So support your local guides and shops when and if you can. Book trips early, buy flies and gear. Check in on them, throw support at their social media, it all helps and makes a difference right now. Its a long haul to 2021 and the summer when things might really turn around…we gotta stick it out.
I hope to see ya riverside when this is all over. Hibernating and surviving through the dark winter until then anglers.