Tis the new year. And I normally don’t fish in January. In the past 8 years, I can count on my fingers how many times I’ve fished the Yak in January. Over the past 18 years, even in my 20s, I didn’t go out much in the winter until around my birthday in February. I would chase steel back then, but those days are few and far. I don’t particularly care for fishing in the cold. It’s hard on the body, its cold, fish are sleepy, it’s cold. Places are hard to get to as well…and its cold.
After 2020 kicking my ass and still kinda smacking me around…and with shit not seeming to get that much better lately…I just can’t be inside anymore…get me. I need fish. They make life better. So does the river. It heals without really doing anything other than being there.
It has been rough for the past 2 years, mostly cooped up save for fishing and work. I got out a little but…did travel, but then didn’t. And mostly hunkered down this whole off season, it’s just time. I don’t care if it’s cold. It is cold, though.
I went on foot a few times and had a few tugs. But the interest wasn’t there on my end. The deep cold set in got into the teens, and then it dumped a butt ton of snow. Ugh. It wasn’t until I started to feel the weather turn, birds show up, the sun rising earlier each day. As an outdoorsy person, you get a feel or sense of things changing or shifting. That’s when my trooty senses start tingling. About a week ago. I could feel it start.
So Kirstyn and I dug out the boat, cleaned it up, warmed it up, and took it out fishing. She still floats, but she’s getting old. She might get retired this season. But the hog still has a lot of miles in her, just not guide miles. The last 7 seasons of heavy work have taken its toll.
Floating the canyon in the winter is very pretty. But damnit it’s cold. Lol. The fish are podded up in deep, slow water. A few more are moving up and around each day. Getting ready. The spawn isn’t far off, and it has been a long frigid winter. Trout have to eat, and every tenth of a degree, the water warms a little more activity begins. Like the snow trickling as it melts at first, but as things change and move, it begins to gush, flood, and rage. Trout are no different.
Each day I’m on the water, I witness things come to life after lying dormant all winter. As most of us have done the past two winter. Tis a thing to be able to watch the planet wake up. To see an ecosystem change and come to life. The bugs move and hatch, the fish respond. The river flows ebb higher and sink lower and cause the river to blush. Trout spawn, life begins again. I watch the critters come out, otters playing and feasting, Salmon smolt beginning the next phase of their journey. The Elk move through the river and around the banks, deer (murderous creatures) are fing everywhere. The swallows return, the herons hunt, the beavers and bears around the banks in mornings. It’s amazing. Truly. To be able to see it, be a part of it, and share it with others for a living is something I cherish.
Fish were awake while we floated yesterday. I missed too many to admit. Like 7. But landed one of the prettier fish I’ve seen. I haven’t touched or seen a trout in months. Was nice to say hello again. Got some nice photos of me fishing for once. Thanks to the girlfriend. It’s been a while since I’ve caught the first fish of the season in the boat. Or to share it with someone other than a client. Just a day of fishing before works starts with my partner. Not too bad.
The season is here, anglers. It’s warming up; fish are active time to fish or at least think about it. Its turds and worms, midges, streamers for a little bit, skwallas, and bwos are a few weeks out. Then it’s time to really get going! Calendar is more full than it ever has been this early. Super stoked, and the trips and the busy schedule are much appreciated. It gets tight for a full-time guide in the off-season! Woo…Outta that one, and we float again!
I invite you to come fish this season. It’s pretty awesome, and we could all use a good time. A few handshakes from troots always help the world be a little easier, time move a little differently, and the river equalizes and humbles us all.
See ya riverside anglers.