The Teanaway. 2.0

The river is swollen. And as it should be. Am I upset that I can’t really fish because she’s running at 4500cfs and is literally on the bank and then like 2 more inches. The river sides are swampy! Yes I’m upset. But it’s late May and we have amazing snow pack, so ya…its like fake runoff.

The reservoirs are full. The 4 lakes, Kachelus, Kachees, via lake Easton and Lake Cle Elum that feed the headwaters above the Teanaway are at capacity anglers. What is flowing into them is coming out of them. And a little extra. And now that the warmer days are here…there’s gonna be more water coming down. The Teanaway has had a little runoff earlier in March, but the cold nights, wet weather, and immense snow pack is slowly trickling out. And the flood plain restoration is working. I’ve seen it. Drove up to look at that swampy mess just the other day. River looks fishy, but its wicked cold. But they are in there.

As things start to heat up we are in for some high water. The prediction charts are already saying over the Memorial Weekend the flows could reach minor flood stage. And if the Teanaway decides to top 1500 to 2000 cfs in the next 2 weeks the river will hit 6000 to 7000 cfs if the reservoirs have to keep spilling…because they are at capacity anglers.

So…things could get real funky. And that’s why I’m cranky! Gonna have to switch it up, chase bass and lake fish and shit. Ugh. But hey it’ll keep me from being bored and with a roof top incoming its easy to be mobile and camp and search out places. I know a good chunk. But I’ve got a few on the radar. Anglers need options and the Yak is being sassy.

The Yakima has a right to surge. She’s had a rough go since that shit ass drought in 2015. It hasn’t been an easy journey. Thankfully a lot of restoration work, better management of resources, and more educated angling and non angling communities; through a plethora of local, state, tribal, and federal organizations we have a system that is thriving…its on a line…but it’s thriving. Our battle against climate change and other issues our freshwater watersheds face is one we can make ground on. And we are getting snow pack and it hasn’t lit on fire for a while. That’s also due to work but that’s a whole other thing.

I’ve had the privilege of being a part of that and giving my time to the resource I hold dear and literally live off of. It’s important that work continues throughout my career in angling across any and all watersheds I guide. While the river has her “salmon pulse/faux runoff” I’ve got small water on the brain.

The Teanaway, I wrote blog years ago about the Teanaway, it’s still the most read entry to date. It still gets reads. I actually haven’t read it in a few years. Just a quick little aide note if anything has been repeated from the previous post.

I cherish the Teanaway. I’ve spent time in it’s valleys and forests, and played in it’s waters since I was a small child. Before the roads were paved. I used to snowmobile, and bike, I had Boy Scout trips up there. My family lived in the area so we played up here frequently. 29 Pines was a normal.ppace to go in the summer for the day. When I got older, I started hiking and skiing, and my first experiences as a outdoor guide were in the Teanaway. I climbed all her peaks, fell of Iron and almost lost my brother on another. Seen the whole state from up top, the fire lookout, hiked the old forgotten trails, been to a few mines and caves, seen trees that are old…like really old, before people old, and almost as tall as sequoia. I’ve found hidden waterfalls and tarns, laid cairns for other mountaineers and hikers. I’ve volunteered to hike pit toilets in and out, was on search and rescue, helped during the fires in more ways than I can remember, was a trail angel for thru hikers, I encountered bears, wolves, badgers, owls, otters, elk, deer, pine martin, and mountain goats. I’ve made the summit of Mt. Stuart twice, and all the enchantment peaks except 2, skied the lines of the ridges, got fucked around in a small avalanche in the neighboring Blewett Pass. The things I have experienced within the folds of the Teanaway are the fabric that sews and holds me together.

It opens this Saturday for fishing and man am I stoked. When I first started fishing most of my time in the summer was spent trudging around the forks of the Teanaway in a shitty old pair of Hodgman Waders and heeled felt soled boots. Hot as balls, in my own soup, throwing my way to long 5wt for Trout the size of my arm. I lost so many fish, and I learned so much from every encounter I had with trout. I was a self taught angler at my start. I didn’t start frequenting fly shops until later. In 04-08 I was told the Teanaway was a good place to go in the summer when the river is high by Tim Irish so I went. I didn’t have a boat except a little Scadden pontoon and the Yak scared me back then in the summer. I never even tubed it.

The Teanaway gave me the passion of angling and exploration with trout as the main goal of the journey. I learned to read the water through trial and error, learned to headhunt, what bugs and flies matched, I took journals upon journals of my time up here fishing in my earlier days. Most of what I learned transfered to the Yakima as I began to develop as an angler. It led to me getting a boat. That want to float, to explore and learn more, encounter more, I started feeling that need to chase trout, and the Teanaway was where it started. It still holds that passion for me, and even though I’ve literally seen all of it…it changes, it holds secrets, and wants to teach and learnt me things. It talks to me all the time, especially as the summer approaches. There is still a major part of the angler in me that just wants solitude and small mountain stream fly fishing. But it’s not just fishing, hiking, and skiing.

I have snorkeld every inch of every fork of the Teanaway River. So I have seen every inch of it. I have seen its jewels of Westslope Cutthroat, Chinook Salmon, Mountain Whitefish, and salmon smolt. I’ve witnessed the illusive Wild Native Steelhead, and the rainbow trout cousins that frequent the pools and riffles. The sandstone bedrock exposed, it shouldn’t be but it is, it’s beauty and scar from years of logging, mining, stripping, irrigating, and straighting to accommodate human needs and wants.

It’s amazing to swim in that sandstone. A way to enjoy it before the flood plain hopefully restores it with gravel and riverbed over the years. It creates amazing underwater chutes and slides that propel the brave, faster forward than one could ever swim even with fins. You glide and twist, dart and curve about like the trout that join you from time to time. The log jams…oh the log jams are a sight. So much happens under and in them. Like an underwater truck stop. I can sit and watch the water slide underneath them for hours. Fish and other critters in bountiful numbers and the spectrum of shapes, sizes, and species. The Teanaway is beautiful above and below the waters. The Teanaway is a gem to our county and the state. The community forest and the work that’s been done here is a testament to how you care for our public lands and spaces.

When I stepped away from fly fishing to guide hiking and run a store in Cle Elum I always had my fly rod in my pack and would always take time to fish. I got the name Tamarack from the thru hikers because they would see me in the fall months with my rod in tow, Tamarack because that’s when the larches change color. Lot of Lake Ingalls hikes. It stuck and I’ve kept it going with my business. So many things from the Teanaway are what make me who I am today. My children have all learned to fish up here. I’ve shared experiences with people, clients, friends, anglers, I will hold close forever. I make new memories now with my partner in the Teanaway doing more and different things that I’ve never done. It’s continues to enrich my life after 30 plus years. Especially when shared with someone special.

When I came back to fly fishing in 2015 as a guide the Teanaway was a hellscape. Fried, no water, fish dying. By August 2015 the river dried up in the middle fork, less than 8 cfs in the west and the north fork was less than 30, getting all the way down to 11cfs at one point. It was horrible. I watched fish die in the upper north fork near the source. I cried watching them eat each other trying to make it to the colder months. Bugs stopped hatching, predators had thier fill, fish just couldn’t breath with 70 plus degree water temps. We did what we could, but it was apparent she was going to take time to come back and needed a lot of help.

Flown in log jams, beaver relocation, culvert work, flood plain restoration, reforestation, riparian zone repair, bank repair, livestock management, more efficient irrigation and management, axing suction dredge mining, and more than I either can’t remember or don’t know. It’s a lot, millions and millions of monies and hundreds of thousands of people hours working on it. I was a small fraction of that process. But a part of it. When I fish the waters now I keep that in mind. The trout the size of my arm have returned after years away; their home refrisbished and working towards something better.

The bugs are back, as are the critters, the salmon too, and my westslope cutthroat are here…because they haven’t been in the Yakima…and this is where they’ve always wanted to be, trying desperately to join the mountain goats high in the mountains where the cold water they thrive in originates. Silly westslope cutthroat trout just want to be in the highlands hiding, camouflaged into the backdrop of the log jams and sandstone…waiting to feed, or maybe hiding from the few wild bull trout I hope are starting to return too….

See ya riverside anglers.

Tamarack Trout

One thought on “The Teanaway. 2.0

  1. Great post. Haven’t been up there this year, yet. I was already assuming she’d be running higher than ‘normal’ this go around.
    Glad to hear she’s finally healing.

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