3/4 of the way through

The nights are getting shorter. It’s starting to cool in the highlands. The fishing is changing. It feels like a short summer is upon us and I am delighted.

This year has been a bit of a burden. I’ve had a rough go. Now car issues. Some weird fishing, it’s never enough money, always chasing more days, it’s been a grind.  A busy one, but feeling the pressures post covid and the cost of things lately…its thin.

Yes we’ve had some weird fishing this summer. Colder water temps have been a bit of a pain.  But August is fishing really well. We’ve got the summer stones, hoppers, and nymphing and streamers are really picking up fish. It’s been really good days.

I’ve gotten to fish more. I’ve taken time to fish more. Camp life suits me and I’m at a point now where too many minutes in town get me fatigued.  I really only want to be around people on the river. Elsewhere I’ve got little care. I’m in and out of town as quick as I can be. I prefer the woods. I don’t really hang out, I’m to busy.  I work, then I go fish, I do adult shit like phone calls, mobile deposit checks, laundry, check mail, refill water amd supplies, pay bills, search for a new rig, all while waiting for clients, during shuttles, or pulling off to the side of the road just before I lose service into the woods for 20 minutes after every trip to post, live stream, check I with kids, send emails, answer texts, try and order new rods, look for a fucking rig, book dates, send invoices, and all the other shit that goes into running this little operation all day, every day, all year long. I love this life. But this year especially after the past 2…its hitting hard.

But I spent time with some fish the other day.  When I wasn’t feeling to hot about things…and snorkeled. I love to fly fish, but there is a wonder and outright awesomeness to watching wild fish without any interaction other than eyes and maybe a swim by.

For 3 hours I watched sockeye, whitefish, rainbow, brown, brook, cutthroat, and every other little fish, smolt, and fry, just…be.  I watched from a distance hunkered against an underwater cliff edge that dropped to 20 feet.  A cascading passable waterfall churning current downward creating white bubbles to thick to see through or swim through. Except for the fish of course. I watched a large brown dart through the fast heavy current hunting.  I watch large and small rainbow podded up feeding together. A cutthroat darting about between them all quickly feeding and moving more than the other fish.  Whitefish plentiful along the bottom. 50 to 70 sockeye along the bottom moving in unison, waiting for the season change to head upwards towards the lakes. I watched and swam among them. I hid behind boulders, ducked under currents, and moved back to my shaded place along the cliff edge just out of site. They all going back to thier routines a few minutes after my absence. This fish are unreachable to anglers really. It’s not in a spot easy to access for fishing and it’s and underwater canyon, they can hide.  As I watched I saw the largest cutthroat I’ve seen in some time appear out of the backdrop. Camouflaged in until breaking into the open water. An amazing creature. Larger and older than most I’ve seen in that size and age. A huge kype, gorgeous leopard spots, deep red orange belly, magenta plates, and bright neon orange cutts.  I was in awe. He hadn’t noticed me yet. He moved into the feeding lane, fed a few times on nymphs, then the brown trout appeared. It saw the largest cutthroat and darted to the deepest water 40 feet away faster than I could see. The cutthroat turned and went deep in that direction. The brown came darting back out as fast as possible, like a flash, and went for the fast water into the rapid. The other fish veering out of the way. I could see the brown hunkered next to a large boulder against the fast current in an underwater Eddy or hydraulic against the boulder edge.

The cutthroat slowly came from the same place the brown darted from. Swam back into the feeding lane, the other fish gently moving out of the way, even the large rainbow at 18 inches or so that this cutthroat dwarfed. It fed a few more times. Less than a dozen. And then it moved towards me. He was withing a fin kick and a grab away just up river of me, showing me every beautiful scale of himself. Dark but rich in deep colors, and old, maybe his last year. He swam within 6 feet of me…then he noticed me as I sat motionless, holding my breath, hoping he’d swim away slowly and not dart. He noticed me, turned away from me down river into the current, I saw a large talon scrape along his back just behind the dorsal fin, healed over a few seasons but visible in the light. He saw me again, flicked his deep chartreuse tail with its leopard thumbprint sized spots, and took the current to the deeper water. He turned as he hit 12 feet down, followed a small smolt or Dace, came up behind it, flared his gills and sucked the small bait fish into its mouth in a single slow gulp. I was astonished. He did it leisurely! He turned towards the deepes water and took his time heading deeper. He tucked around a large boulder deep, some 22 feet down…on the bottom. In the darkest water save for a sliver of light around 5pm that made a green hue. I could see him next to the boulder and an old dead smooth branch. He blended into the backdrop and I couldn’t see him anymore. I swam over him when I left, but the salmon where over top of him, but he was there.

I realized that my love and passion for the world in which I interact with is what I am meant for. They are amazing creatures. My ability to understand them, chase them, conserve them, educate about them, is because of a deep passion that even I do not fully understand at times. No matter what this life has thrown at me or still has in store, I have my passion for fish and the happiness it brings me. Sharing these experiences between anglers and fish is what I do, it’s who I am. I work the problems this life and gig can give you, take care of my body while I put it through the shit all season, get better at guiding and fishing, fish almost every day guiding or otherwise. Chase different and more fish, travel guide other waters during the season, always guide the Yakima throughout my career. It is and always will be my favorite river. Out of all the places I’ve fished, the miles I’ve floated…the Yakima will always be a place I share experiences with clients, anglers, through guiding.

This life is what I’ve always wanted even when it’s hard. Today I got to teach new anglers, then hiked through the hoods and hitched a ride on another boat for a guides day off float with others, put people on trout with no guide pressure, just vibes, and fish, and rowing, and fishing, laughing, getting off river at dusk after a gorgeous sunset and a few nice trout. Slamming some food before close in a finally quiet Cle Elum just after dark as the sky lights up with stars. Driving down back roads 2 boats a few friends some sore muscles, a guide trip tomorrow, great tunes. A glass of wine or 2 at camp and some good times. A fellow group of campers playing folk music with a fiddle, acoustic bass, guitar, mandolin and a banjo around propane fire just yonder. They are just getting into another tune. The campground quiet except for their music dancing and playing amongst the moonlit trees soft rabble of the Teanaway, and the fiddle breaking the soft banter and singing throughout the forest delicately and delightfully.

Good evening anglers…tis a good night and I’ll see ya riverside.

Tamarack

This season has been busy. And there are dates open. September is filling up, and October into November fishing really good. We all know the fall season is the Yakima rivers best time.

I’ve got August 12th 14th and 16th. 21st thru 25th, coming up. With dates for the fall season booking. Come out for a trip of any type and share wild Yakima River Trout with me. I hope to see you riverside anglers. In any capacity. Go out, share, and enjoy fly fishing and the outdoors.

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