The days are getting longer. Light lingers after 5 pm now. The sun breaks the day a smidgen earlier each morning. The start of my 9th full-time guide season here on the Yakima is beginning. The early season and spring fishing have become some of my favorite times of year to chase trout.
Things are slow to start. As am I these days. After thousands of river days, I take my time more now. Last season was the busiest I’ve done, I started guiding in late January and had out over 40 guide days on the calendar before April ended. This season is different.
I’m limiting my guide days to 150-175 in 2023. 41 days are already booked. I’m also not guiding until March. Last year’s early season trips were work, it was cold, and I wanted to fish. This season, I’ll be fishing the pre season. Compacting my guide days to when I know it will give anglers the best opportunities at fish. But also waiting until the river is more teachable.
March is when things really start sounding off. The time leading up to then can be very productive but also very unpredictable. It takes more feel and instinct in the pre season, in my opinion. Learning and feeling how the river is changing, how the fish move daily and over the course of the season. This is hard to teach. It ends up being that fishy sense we guides and experienced anglers have. In all reality, it comes down to time and consistent days on the river.
Each day I go out in the pre season, I am learning, listening, and observing. The river tells all when you’re out on it every day. And I spend almost every day riverside. I also need time to get myself physically and mentally prepared for the upcoming season. I’ll be 37 this season, and each year, more care is taken to make sure my body is in shape. What I do for a living is incredibly physical, and not all rowers are created equal, I’ve worked very hard to be one of the better oarsman around, and that takes its toll on the body. Jumping headfirst into guiding isn’t how I roll anymore. I ease in.
That also helps me prepare mentally. Last season showed me that I can burn out on the people side of guiding. I do get fatigued from teaching and interacting with people. The job is mostly people at the end of the day. So, easing into the season for myself and taking time to settle into my own river rhythm before I start guiding and having the pressure of producing is important. Which really just means getting to go fishing for me.
The offseason has been quite uneventful and easygoing. Exactly what you want out of the winter months. Financially, this was the easiest offseason to get through. The early bookings have been much appreciated. After 8 years in business, the career I’ve chosen has really started to work the way it’s supposed to. My clients are to thank for that.
Last season was nuts. I ran 207 trips. Over a dozen double days, I added 44 new clients to a roster of over 250. Over 1000 river miles floated, some 240 days on water. I fished new water last season both in my backyard, Idaho, and Michigan, and I boosted my business to a point where I will finally…finally be able to break into the Southern Saltwater Area and guide new states and water moving forward. It’s been a long time coming, and the stoke for this season is very high. Moving towards not just being your local fishing guide.
I’m really looking forward to getting started. I will be living riverside in the LC within the next 10 days. And back to that trout bum life. Transitioning out of hibernation and back to fishing. Waking up with the river. It’s also been about 8 plus weeks since I’ve touched a fish. I finally started feeling the urge to chase fish this past week. The only reason I didn’t go out was because I got sick.
Here we go anglers. I start dusting off the gear and prepping for the season. It’s already filling up. There’s 109 days open for the Yakima from March to May 10, July 5th-October.
March is filling up quickly with only 8 more days left open. April isn’t far behind. I’ve never booked out this far in advance, but that is the trend in our industry right now. All the guide outfits are booking dates out way in advance. There is a huge push in outdoor recreation right now. Campgrounds are already reserved for summer dates. I can’t stress enough that making plans way ahead of time is important. Things will be full, hotels, campgrounds, and even the river will be busy as last year if not more so.
I invite you to come out for a guided trip this season. Spring fishing is some of my favorite and gives anglers the advantage and best shots at those big ol’ trout. Which we will touch on in the next blog post. I hope to see you riverside this season anglers.