I fished today, 4 different bodies of water. From 7 am to 7 pm. No fish. But it was nice to stomp around where I started fishing. I fished pretty hard for most of the day. Top water, trout flies, streamers, sink tips, double haul casts, punching flies into the toolies. No fish but it was still good to work through casts, row a bunch of water, my body needs the work out, and to get a look at some old ‘secret’ water.
Drove through my hometown, saw my higschool, my old houses, still know where all the roads on royal slope go. Side note, how in the actual fuck is there no tequila at the store in Royal City? Luckily I found some in George. Because I have every intention of getting ripe with drunkenness. I’ve already started. So I better get this out before it really hits.
Why? Because I’m an adult, fishless, and sad, so it seems appropriate. Drinking makes me happy. Even alone. I drink more now, gave it up for a while when I lost weight. So why the fuck not, it’s wet, windy, kinda cold, and I feel like a hangover will help in all honesty. I can handle hangovers. It’s a guide thing. I got fancy and made margaritas and of course shots of tequila. Which isn’t my favorite, rum is, but tequila seemed appropriate for being back in the stomping grounds.
Driving the back roads and sliding into lakes and slews along the canals was reminiscent of my early days when I lived here and was going to school at CWU. All the spots are still there, grungy, dirty, and trash filled like always. It’s a different vibe out here. Kinda rednecky and hillbilly but I seem to fit in with that even if I’m more the hippy dirtbag troubum type.
I have kind of fallen back into that dirtbag life. Where you’re just bumming around looking for fish. The term comes from rock climbers and hikers. The equivalent of ski bum, trout bum, dirtbag, all kind of the same thing. Those of us who forgo the regular life for awesome pow and lines, a good rock face, or a lake or trout stream. Living guide trip to guide trip, a wad of cash stashed for emergencies in a place my stoner brain forgot already.
I do feel like I’ve taken a few steps back. Like a time warp. I was doing this gig in 2019 when my life fell apart before and after my divorce. Recent events kind of put me back in this space. Life off river falls apart we revert back to what we know. It’s not totally bad, just not what was planned. I adjust, pivot, move forward. That’s all I can do.
Trips will help. Give purpose to this lifestyle. Otherwise I’m just a fishy hobo. And I’m looking forward to things picking back up work wise. I know the river will drop. Slugging around the lakes today made me appreciate the Yak a little more even if she’s being a spiteful bitch right now. I get company finally! This last week alone has kind of sucked if I’m honest. I do need people and I think I’m ready. At least in a fishing, camping, outside capacity. A few minutes in civilization like the store or gas gets me anxious. And I did notice a few people in my hometown do the double take with me. I can’t go anywhere close. When I head to Montana next month for fishing and then Canada I will be unknown and that has its appeal.
Today I also drove a lot. Fucken gas. Which I do hate, but at 50 mph on back roads to and from water is my groove. I get time to think, cry, laugh, and harness my chi so to speak when I drive. A habit from guiding, the to and from drive of trips is a lot of contemplation time. Today I thought of all the places in Washington I have fished. Fucken damn near all the good ones. From the OP to the Spokane. From Ross Lake to the Klickitat, and lots in between. Lakes, creeks, seeps, rivers, canals, slews, puddles, it’s a lot. And being back over here for guiding makes me realize I have got to get out of here. Not permanently, but I can’t do full time here in Washington anymore. Nothing is holding me here now. My anchors have all been cut free. Some more forcefully and suddenly than others. But I’m in the wind now.
South, no more snow. No more winters sitting doing nothing except Netflix, booze, weed, and flies being tied. No more hibernation. It makes me cranky and hibernation alone seems frightening. So I’ve gotta keep moving. So South, that’s what we are working towards. Another boat, different fish, warmer weather, maybe a shorter beard, I don’t like humidity, and the opportunity to learn something new and completely different than anything I’ve ever done. I don’t mind being out of my comfort zone. Fuck I don’t think I have one save for on the water. And I definitely feel suddenly forced into a very uncomfortable place. I want to control being out of that zone. I want to be the reason I’m there. Me. Not tragedy, trauma, and shock being the culprits. That’s a change I need and seek.
Working trout in other places also has its appeal. And my distaste for working for others has waned since my experience on the St. Joe. Finding trout fishing in places where there is more opportunity and yes…better fishing; like Idaho and Montana is also being chased. It’s time. I need to guide other places. Experience more. I want it. And with no anchors I can float that way.
Out of the comfort zone. I want challenge. Water that is new, water that makes me pucker, I want to meet new and more people through angling. Fully embracing the community I hold so dear. I want to be that troutbum guide. I’ll always guide the Yakima. Especially in the fall, but I want 250 to 270 guided days a year anglers. The other days are for me to fish.
And I want to fish, trout but also weird places like Costa Rica, for whatever, Iceland, I’d love to go back to Alaska, for a week that’s long enough, I’d love to catch an Arimpima in the jungles of Brazil, a shark, and God do I wanna personally fish for Bulltrout and Redfish. I love bull trout. Went to Canada years ago just for a shot at a 40 incher. I got it. And then some. To have the opportunity to do that again this year, and more to come is something I want. And Redfish, never have I caught them, but the bass angler in me wants some of that shit. They get big, they eat the fuck out of flies, and they have a cool spot on their tail I want to see up close. I’m a sucker for spotted tails.
And I want to always improve my casting. It’s a constant thing. Some people are born good casters or it is effortless for them…I am not that person. It is always work for me and I am consistently tuning and learning my cast personally. I am a born oarsman, not angler. I made myself into a good angler, rowing is what comes naturally and effortlessly for me and I’ve made peace with that. Changing up what you fish for and actually getting chances to fish help make you a better caster.
Those are the things that go through the mind of a this guide driving around and fishing anyway. And I’ll take those thoughts opposed to the others that want to creep in currently. It’ll be good to guide and fish with others. It’s not the easiest thing to fish and row from the boat all the time. And this activity of chasing fish with flies is wonderful solo…but honestly and I’ve been doing this for almost 2 decades now…its designed to be experienced with others and shared.
Just like life. We are meant to be social, have partners, pairs, sometimes the same for our lives, sometimes not. Fly fishing and at least my life are sometimes too similar that it frightens me. And I won’t lie, lately and at other points in my life, I have felt like the solitary bulltrout, ranging far and wide, hunting, feeding, and always seeking out another. If I was a trout…it wouldn’t be a cutthroat, my favorite fish, I’d be a bulltrout. And that’s both sad and awesome in its own way. Booze kicked in.
See ya on the water anglers,