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Returning to the Joe

I haven’t done a blog in a while. To be honest I have either had nothing to say or too much to find something to focus into a blog. I have been in work mode. And unfortunately this trip has made me realize part of the problem with the Yak and me right now is that I have been treating the Yakima like a commodity instead of a resource. It happens when things get busy and you want to produce as a guide. Instead of exploring and delving into my homewater I have been just running my lines and working things like they are a job and not fishing. Clients don’t see it as much, but I do and its on me anyway. Returning to the Joe immediately made that apprent.

The St. Joe is wonderous. It is filled with so much water to read and explore. I fished it very hard last summer while I was guiding it. Became intimate with many a mile of the Joe. Still, when I dream of a river…it is the Joe. Its also filled with a fuck ton of fish…just saying.

It took ten casts to hook and land a wild Idaho westlope cutthroat trout that would be a dandy on the Yakima any day. The next 5 hours were an absolute blur of headhunting dry fly sippers, working fast water hydraulics with big goldens and teasing and tricking large amd small trout galore. Nymphing yielded a few nice ones too. And I ended my last run for the evening with the streamer and went 2 for 3 on the hard strip like I was chasing browns in Montana. Big aggresive swipes before the big smack and hook up and some heffer troots. The Joe is fucken magical.

And as a rather well versed trout angler…its not that its easy on the Joe…its that the skillset I have developed and tuned over the past 16 years fully comes to the surface while chasin trout with a fly and rod here. It just becomes fishing…not trying to figure anything out, not having to teach or learn anything. The water is there, the trout underneath, I see the cast and presentation needed, and it just happens…over and over and over.

I am in my element on any river, and I have become very good at the craft of fly angling. Take the boat, the clients, business, all that away and I am just an angler. I spent years becoming a good angler before I became a guide. And these days I don’t get to chase fish for myself too much. Even on fun days or floats with friends or collegues, I don’t fish much. I row, and on wade days I almost always yield the first casts to others.

I take days for myself on the Yak too but here its different because I can fish the yak anyday. So that drive to chase and explore, the desire to find what is around the next bend is turned all the way up to 11 when I fish other waters. And that brings out the best of my angling. Its like a virtuoso musician nailing their performance. In that groove, no real thinking just reading, presenting…just fishing. This cast here, this mend there, high stick that, swing here but strip there…I don’t think it. Its just automatic. Just in it anglers. That is what years of this will bring you anglers. Everything just clicks into place and you become a part of the river for a while. You can get lost in it. Hence the blur of 5 plus hours of fishing today.

Returning to the Joe brings a lot of things up…some not so great….but the fishing here…its just fucking fantastical and is always worth it. I have fished more rivers than I can count in the west…this place is by far one the most amazing. Top 3 fosho. Its just everything I could ever want in a trout river…and its all cutties.

Gotta sleep, floating 10 hours or so tomorrow and fishing a big chunk of the river.

Tamarack

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In it.

Well anglers…we are in it. The summer season is here. The summer bugs are starting, the flows are coming up, the sun is shining, and its getting pretty warm out. Awwww ya.

I have been on river damn near every day since the 7th. The river rythym has set back in and I finally feel locked in to the river. Yesterday sealed the deal for me. River came up with a salmon pulse that I didn’t catch prior so I had to completely change the day up while on it. The river became a puzzle and I was able to adjust and produce as a guide. The groove is back.

The boat feels right underneath me again. I have my boat legs back, the muscles are sore but finally feel like they should. My eyes and ears are synced up with my clients and the river, my knot tying skills are still quick and incredibly efficient. All the little thinga I miss being good at I am getting to do again!

The fishing is wonderful anglers. Just like I remember it…but with some big ass fish this season…whooo…4 wts aint gonna do shit out here! Trips are rolling in for the rest of the season, my phone is always beeping and buzzing, bank acount filling back up, and I am starting to feel like I am in the grind again! Trips or fishing erry day!

So there we are anglers…we are in it. See ya riverside.

Tamarack

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Booked Up

Hey anglers,

I am so grateful for the reservations. I am booked solid until June 9th and 10th and June 14th thru 18th are open as well.

Unfortunately I don’t have any more nights open for the Caddis For Dinner Floats. But look for more deals this season!

I am taking reservations for full and half day trips for June through October. Things book up really quick!

I hope to see ya riverside this season anglers.

Tamarack

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Caddis For Dinner Special

Guiding has Reopened!

I will be offering a discount Half Day evening float rate. Lets hit that caddis hatch and fish till dark:30 anglers.

Caddis For Dinner Special runs May 15th thru May 30th.

2 anglers $300 plus tax. Start late get off river after everyone else.

Caddis are whats for dinner so lets go feed the troots some fake ones. Call, email, or yell at me riverside. We start around 3 pm and fish until 8 to 9 pm. No lunch, just feesh. Masked up and getting after it for some pandemic trout.

Stay safe anglers.
See ya riverside

Tamarack

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Guiding Resumes May 15th

Hey anglers,

Guiding has been opened back up.

We have a list of things we have to follow in order to start working again. They are listed below.

I am taking reservations!

Guide Operations

These items will be assessed, and potentially modified, on a weekly basis. Any business planning to reopen this service starting on May 14, 2020, must comply with the following:

1. Utilize on-line or phone reservation systems to pre-pay and limit interactions, and restrict payments to credit cards only to eliminate the handling of cash.

2. Maintain a log of all customers, including at a minimum: first name, last name, physical address, and telephone information.

3. During Phase 1 of Safe Start Washington, only guided fishing trips with up to two clients at a time are allowed and all clients must be from the same household. Social distancing must be maintained. In Phase 2 groups of mixed households allowed, with a maximum of two households and a maximum of 8 individuals in a group. Social distancing must be maintained.

4. Require passengers to bring and wear masks or facial coverings on the boats. Crew members are also required to wear masks or facial coverings on boats.

5. Users need to bring their own pens to sign waivers. Digital devices must be sanitized between each user to sign waivers.

6. Consider the space provided for each customer when determining the maximum number of people allowed onboard. Ensure there is 6 feet of rail space between each person. Limit the number of passengers permitted in the cabin at any one time to provide adequate spacing unless there are safety issues such as weather or sea conditions.

7. In Phase 2, overnight boats are allowed. Physically distancing is still required between participants of different households. The bunks pads and all bunk room surfaces and hand holds should be cleaned and disinfected between each trip.

8. Create adequate space for physical distancing during tour check-ins, and when outfitting customers. Use visual markers for reference.

9. When outfitting participants with protective clothing and lifejackets, staff will maintain social distance. When social distance is not possible staff will wear appropriate PPE, including masks or facial coverings.

10. Where necessary, stagger tour departures to minimize contact between staff and groups of participants.

11. Develop cleaning protocols that allow for proper disinfection of fishing gear, protective clothing, and lifejackets after each use using CDC and EPA approved products. Regularly sanitize counter tops, hand rails, door knobs, and other common surfaces. Have hand sanitizer available for staff and clients.

12. In Phase 1 shuttle transportation only allowed for groups where all members are in the same household. In Phase 2 mixed household groups are allowed only if social distancing while transporting is maintained.

13. Require customers to cancel if they have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, or new loss of taste or smell and ensure that they can reschedule with no penalty when they are feeling better.

14. Keep up to date on all changes issued by the Office of the Governor, the Department of Labor & Industries, and the Department of Health.

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Thoughts from the stoop.

Only a few days riverside and already my mind and body crave it more. This pandemic has left drive and ambition lacking. Its like I had silenced the call, the pull of the river. Closed off to it.

Fishing solo just isn’t enough. I want more. But the world we live in now makes me cautious. Therea still so much that is up in the air the stress of it all seems to come on waves every few days. When you’re reminded you still haven’t worked in 8 weeks, bills aren’t able to get paid, truck needs work, gear needs replaced, repaired, restocked, funds are low, and yes there are trips coming…but will we get do run them and will they be enough are the questions that linger in the back eddy.

I have dealt with a lot of stress, and a lot of crap the last 18 months. So this challenge that has presented itself has been one that has been different to meet head on or even try to think out more than a week at a time. Just too much out of my control and a lot of nonsense that has come up that I can’t make sense of. Having the river back within my reach helps but only puts a band aid on the issues on mind.

My my mind seems to jump between the need to chase fish and slowly trying to keep the off river stuff from completley unraveling. Its a funky dance, a weird line to be riding. It sucks to be honest and is really uncomfortable. Navigating some heavy gnarly class Vs anglers. Shit better be worth the craptastic ride on the other side.

The river is speaking to me again. And that helps. It at least gives me a hint of purpose during all this. It keeps some of the positive vibes up near the top. Like everyone else I am feeling the lack of social interaction and connection. Anxious. Trying to stay cautiously optimistic about it all. River doesn’t know or care whats going on. Its just running doing river stuff. And that still gives me something to root myself in.

Stay safe out there. Chase fish if you can, wash your hands, wear your mask. See ya riverside.

Tamarack.

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The feel

Its been weeks since I felt the river tug at my legs while I walk the riffles. Its been weeks since birdsong, the smell of sweet cottonwoods, and bugs fluttering in my face. Its been weeks since I felt the thrash of a wild trout and the feeling of the release as it explodes away back to the depths.

For many the connection to the outdoors and in my case and others the river, is basically a necessity. The river has become a part of who I am. I am lost without it. Quarantine has been strange. Much like the offseason slump. But the weird sleeping, lack of routine, schedule, not having the river to guide me…its been…well it hasn’t been great. Neccessary but not great.

I was reluctant to fish right away. Almost as if the stay at home at taken away my drive to fish. It took the morning of me going out for that feeling to leave. My timing has been fucked since quarantine. I have lost track of the day and time multiple times. When I woke I thought it was later but I was on river and floating by 9:30 and I literally thought it was 11. I was so excited to get riverside I lost track of what time it was.

I spent 9 hrs on the river that day. I sat and watched the river. Felt the current move the boat. I played in the flow moving the boat just to move the boat. Not for fish just to feel the river. I met fish only got to tickle one but they were eager to eat flies and test my skills. Challenging and persnickety as always these trout are always consistent in that regard.

I have missed the challenge. Its like riding a bike, it comes back quick. Already my mind has switched back over to trout. I am reading water in my head again, seeing drift lines, approaches, angles. I am already feeling that connection, listening to what the river is saying. Its like not seeing a close friend for a while and everything that has happened since then just comes flowing out.

The river is home. I have never felt more at home than when in my boat in the river. To not have that gor this times has been internally hard. I had plenty of down days because of it. I am cautiously optimistic as we move through this pandemic. Even if I am unable to work when planned at least I can be home again. And if it all goes to shit…I would rather be riverside anyway.

I get the next 2 weeks to settle back into that river life. The drive to chase trout has resurfaced. Stay safe out there and I hope to see you riverside soon.

Tamarack

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Phase 2

Quick update anglers. We have 4 phases to coming our of lockdown and going back to guiding. Phase 1 starts May 5th with fishing open. Keep it local and keep it with household members. Phase 2 which should start around May 25th will allow is to start guiding again. Up to 5 non household members in your group. Several businesses will reopen at that time with restrictions.I am now taking reservations for trips for June thru October. Right now summer trips are limited to half days with no lunch or Full Days and you being your own. More updates to follow. Those who had to reschedule can pick dates now. Its a start and I am looking forward to getting back into guiding.See ya riversideTamarack

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It hurts

Okay…its been 6 weeks since I guided last and almost that long since I fished. A neccessary evil…necessary but still evil.

The past 6 weeks have been much like the offseason winter months. As long as you don’t look outside that is. I wake up with the river. And I haven’t found myself fully awake because of the disconnect with the river. It is making me really cranky. Like a bear trapped in the post hibernation stupor…groggy, hangry…needs to poop. Just cranky.

The river comes alive this time of year. The trees grow their leaves, the cotton woods start to smell sweet, the birds flutter, sing, and chirp about the edges of the water. The otters and ducks, the beavers, the ravens, raptors, fucken deers, the bugs, and of course the trout.

I miss it. And this may make me out to sound like an asshat but its not the same as most. Its not just the river, its the guiding, the people, the gauntlet that is the Yakima, the crazy energy, the life it causes me to live. I miss the rythym, the schedule, the anticipation, the feeling when I get it right, and the feeling of defeat and perseverance through the suck. I live my life on that river. And not being able to be in its embrace….it really fucken sucks. Sorry I can’t think of a more eloquent way of stating my feelings.

I don’t have much in my life. That river is a lot of it. I have put over a decade of my adult life learning the craft of fly angling, fly tying, boat rowing, and business. Sunk the majority of my life’s earnings and monies into it. I am determined to make guiding my career until I literally can no longer physically fly fish. I have lost so much in the pursuit of fly fishing. I have also gained more than I could have ever hoped for. The river is a part of me. 6 weeks without a limb, or a part of your brain, or that deep physical, emotional, primal, natural, and psychological connection to the world of wild trout…it takes its toll. As so many fellow river rats, dirt bags, guides, and outdoorsy folk are feeling as we enter what may be our last week cut off from what we crave most.

It hurts anglers. It hurts my heart, my brain, even my body aches for the pull and push of the river current. I even had a cry about it the other day. Probably had too much herb, and I tied a really amazing set of march browns and realized I wasn’t gonna get to fish them this season. Had a little pandemic break down. Its allowed.

The financial worry is really not worth the stress. I can’t do shit about it. Qualifying for these loans is damn near impossible with my little business. I am in that boat of, if I can get back to work soon I should be good. But that leaves me and just about everyone else running that risk of infection. Just like our front line people, grocery clerks, drivers, and other currently essential workers have been risking this whole time. Its not fun to think about. And trying to figure out where that line is sucks. Its reminds me of the 2015 drought. Out of work for 6 weeks, getting back to it running that fine line of… not killing trout but trying to keep my fledging business afloat. Now its just…not killing people…I guess…okay that really fucken sucks. Honestly…I don’t wanna. That’s a shitty position to be put in on top of everything else. Preaching to the choir I know. And to everyone who has been still going to work. Sucks.

We shall see about guiding. But fishing at least, hopefully soon. It hurts anglers…thinking about all this stuff. I figured venting some would help a little. It does. But that’s what we are all processing right now. What things are going to look like moving forward. As an older millenial…I will be honest, I am exhausted. 9/11, Wars, financial crisis of 08, recession, school shootings, student loan debt crisis, healthcare crisis, climate crisis, and Pandemic crisis. I am exhausted. And would like things to be better on the other side of this for once. It would be nice to have some calm water around the next bend this trip.

There is some craziness out there that makes me feel otherwise. From drinking bleach, to blatent lies, to just doing a shit job across the board on all fronts on so many levels by too many of our leaders…its a cluster. This country went from melting pot to cluster fuck real quick.

When things do open back up. Please…I implore you…be smart. Be safe. Please please please be respectful and patient. And be nice to the communities that you visit when you recreate. We remember you. The Yakima River Communities are really close knit. And we have weathered the oast 6 weeks really well. As other counties deal with more cases. We are all anxious about things opening back up. Please please please be respectful and kind.

Things won’t be normal…not like they were after this. They can’t be. But hopefully fishing won’t change too much. I hope to see you riverside soon and maybe even in my boat.

Stay safe anglers.

Tamarack

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Tis the fucken season already!

Okay…so this closure is neccessary…and it is also evil. I am just saying. It fucken sucks and I have had it.

Okay. Rant over. Stupid coronavirus…

While I try desperately to avoid the news as its just one cluster after another…there is an absolute standstill on getting anywhere with a disaster relief loan or grant right now, and 3 months of the trout season are just about gone. Thousands lost, mentally unstable, and that stimulus check only goes so far and can’t stimulate much being locked down. I need to be stimulated…shit…ugh…meh.

So…we might get to fish by May 4th but don’t be to giddy. More then likely we will see another 10 to 14 days of lockdown or at least closures. I am guessing things will be brought back online one step at a time. Being completely non essential fly fishing and guiding is near the bottom of that list. There is also the added worry of the economy being total hot garbage for months after this, which doesn’t bode well for saving the season. Lots of stress on the business front. And more on the personal front.

As I don’t like to get into the off river stuff to much I just wanna iterate here…never let anyone make you feel bad or like a failure for chasing your passion and finding success through it. My job has been on hold for weeks. I make good money and am very good at my gig. But this shit put everything on pause and its not my fault. Paitience…the river will provide.

Anyway. Kinda all over the place. This isolation is getting to me fosho.

So we might get to fish by May 4th in time for the Mothers Day Caddis Bonanza. But more than likely we will be back to it by Memorial Day. Probably in masks. May only be running light halfer trips, and still doing all the cleanliness and washing stuff.

We will no longer be shaking hands or high fiving. Sorry anglers. Just gonna break that habit now. Elbow taps from here on out. So don’t be offended if I don’t shake your hand.

Look for dates in June through October. We will hopefully get 5 months of the season and it might be enough to get through this craptastic year. We can still save the season. Support how you can.

Those that have to reschedule…start picking your summer dates! Anyone waiting on refunds and returns please continue to be patient.

Thank you..

Tis the fucken season already…

Tamarack