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OP the Blur

So the last few days of my OP trip are kind of a blur of wet, soggy, dark, fun. Casting and floating, and dealing with the rain. Everything I expected from a winter steelheading trip.

Hanging with Troy and getting out of our comfort zones and targeting a different fish and kind of fishing was awesome. Something I wanted. I don’t get my ass handed to me very often with trout these days so getting humbled by swinging for steel was something I was looking for.

Talking steelhead, trying to figure it out, getting fish to smack things and fucking it up…it was a blast. Sure would have been nice to land and harvest fish but that’s not it was all about or I would have thrown gear. No I want to swing up steel or salmon and I know my patience will pay off…it has in the past with those salty critters.

Camp life was awesome. Campfires, cooking, tents, set up, tear down, the rambling and rolling of river life. Oh did I miss that shit! Damn it was good. The OP was warm, wet but still board short weather for me. We had one day where we were really in the suck when it rained all day non stop and everything from us, the boat, our gear, every fly, my beard, tents…just soaked and wetted out. We did the super early day, bounced around with all the other boats and anglers, got a little bit of that Forks Wa culture. Just a good trip anglers. Really good.

Being back on the homewater is great but I will want to be back before to long. Left my boat over there and everything. It has been a long time since a river and a place has called out to me so loudly but the OP has and I will go.

I also got to spend really amazing river time with Troy and share in the experience with one of the best fishing partners and people I have ever met. Fish or no fish that made the trip worth it. The last few days of the trip were some of the most memorable moments I have had on and off river and I feel ever fortunate that fly fishing brings my life these amazing people and experiences and makes my life richer beyond measure.

See ya riverside anglers.

Tamarack

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OP Day 3

We got up late…like typical trout bums in the offseason. I also didn’t feel like getting up at 4:30 am while it was f’ing raining. So we got up late and headed to Forks.

We hit the Bogechiel by 10:30 and swung till 3. I had one hit on a blue intruder thingy. My cast took all that time to get even halfway decent. Troy had an easier time casting but got no love.

We are gonna float tomorrow. Really get into the swing of things. And my boat is itching to get wet.

This place is amazing. Last night the Strait of Juan de Fuca was loud, the way the water sounds out here still gets to me. The smell of the saltwater and campire filled the air. We had thoughts of fish on our minds.

Its so warm here. The minor temperature fluctuations and the sheer dampness of this place boggles me. Its boardshort weather!

The trees keep grabbing my attention, gnarled and bearded with knuckled roots grabbing onto the riverbanks. The mountains, mist and cloud covered only catching glimpses of them. Their scarred sides from logging but full of young new growth.

Its wet. The fire burns dim and cold with how humid it is. It hasn’t dropped below 45 degrees yet. My beard is a curly mess tangled and frizzy from the damp. There is the constant sound of drip…drop…tink…plink…plop..dup..drip. I will take the wet over the hard bitter cold on the homewater.

Checking out and plugging into a different river, different species, different method of presenting a fly…I am completely out of my comfort zone. I am giddy about the place I am fishing, determined to lock into that steelhead swing rhythm. This is relaxing and stimulating at the same time.

Camp life is a welcome change. I didn’t get to camp at the end of the trout season due to losing the roof top in the accident. Its been nice to settle into a camp rhythm too. I coud live like this all the time. I prefer the lack of walls, the quiet, the fishing, just the getting lost in this river life. We only get one of these lives and we get to choose how we live it. I may not get to be with my kids like I want right now, and that will change in the very near future. Until then I will take the opportunity life or the universe…the fly fishing gods…what have you…has presented me with and follow it around the next river bend.

See ya riverside anglers.

Tamarack

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OP Day 2

So day 2 we didn’t do shit. I kicked it in Port Angeles and Troy hit up the fly shop and we got supplies for the rest of the trip.

If you need coffee hit up Electric Cloud Coffee in PA. Also Swains has literally everything you could need. Salt Creek is a wicked nice campground…just watch out for bobcats and racoons. Shifty critters getting into my boat.

We did zero fishing and had a lazy day of camp life. Headed to Forks and the Bogechiel in the AM.

See ya riverside anglers.

Tamarack

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The OP Day 1

Whooo. I hate traffic. Let’s just get that out of the way. My version of traffic is too many rigs at the take out, or moose, or fucken deer. The pass was good. I haven’t taken the boat over the pass in a bit. Snowed a little in Roslyn. I spent the morning prepping the boat. I had to repair my safety chains, and patch a hole in my hull. Had to drain the water out before it froze.

I hit Port Angeles around 3. Troy my vagabond trout bum, roomate both on and off water, guide buddy showed up after 6. Had to do a supply run at REI. I was on groceries. We are camping at Salt Creek on the Strait. I can hear the water crashing just over the cliff edge. We had to fend of some pesky racoons that got a little brash. I decided to try and be friends and that seems to have kept them at bay. Apparently they don’t like me.

The fire is waning down. Subtle cracks and cackles as the embers turn a deep orange. I can’t get over the sound of the water. It’s so different. Yet familiar. The crashes keep the silence just out of earshot. The dark is deeper here. The clouds lock you into it. There is little light pollution. Oh to be able to see the stars this eve.

I saw the snow capped Olympics as I came in. The call to the rivers they breath life into beckons ever louder now that I am in their presence. Like the sound of the salt water crashing and pulling and crashing and pulling…like the waters of the rivers I intend to fish…pulling all into the sea and giving back as thing return and pass on to the next ebb and flow, crash and pull. It is good to be outside anglers…good to chase fish, new adventure, and share tine with friends old and new.

See ya riverside in the wet anglers.

Tamarack

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Trout Bum Mornings

Its cold. Officially to cold for shorts. I said it.

The offseason is slow. Most mornings during the trout season; its get up and go, guide, eat, sleep, do it again. You squeeze everything into and around the guide days.

This time of the year mornings are a bit more relaxed. Wake up around 8 or 9. Sometimes 10. Start coffee amd throw on the music. I putter around in the mornings. Read news, catch up on emails and social media.

Coffee is ready. I talk to my kids. I would typically hang outside and enjoy my coffee. But its too damn cold so I have to sit inside. I am surprised how busy I actually am this offseason.

I finish my coffee, do yoga. And then finish getting ready for the day. A trout bum day doesn’t typically start until 10 or 11. I set aside a few hours a day for fly tying. Orders are starting to roll in so I will cram more flies in before leaving for a week or two for winter steelheading.

The trick to the offseason is to settle into that slower pace. It isn’t always easy. Going from high energy, go go go, constant people interaction, to just kinda being a loner. I haven’t had the experience of living with another guide and trout bum during the offseason. Having two cabin fever stricken anglers under one roof can get silly. With no big TV or electronics, or other things to ward off boredom…its mostly a lot of late mornings, late nights, flies tied, trips planned and replanned, coffee drank, and stories swapped.

You have to enjoy it. Take the respite even if you don’t really want it. The offseason isn’t as glamorous as the trout season or fishing damn near everyday…but you work your ass off so you can enjoy the time off river. It usually only lasts 10 days maybe 2 weeks before I find myself outside or wanting to be out. Despite the cold. There is skiing soon…but I like fish more.

Trout Bum mornings are pretty slow and laid back. Just easing into the cold winter days every morning. That’ll all change when we head west to the OP and get back on river time. But until then…just enjoying the offseason for what it is, and anticipating the next riverside day.

Tamarack.

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Familiar but New

The winter has set in. The temps have settled to freezing or maybe a little warmer on the sunny days. The snow has started. The highlands will snow lock up soon. The water temps have dropped to 36 or less. Fish are hibernating. Like Randy the fat skunk that lives out under the shed.

I have fly tying orders coming in which is keeping me busy. But without things to distract me from the cabin fever like I used to have in the offseason the anxiousness is starting. My roomate is restless. Ready to spend 2 weeks on the OP. His restlessness has transferred over to me.

I am craving something familiar, but new. I have chased steel and salmon but it has been a while. I am a different angler than I was last time I landed something with my spey stick. I got it out today…forgot how big an 8 wt 13.6 ft Spey actually is.

Winter steelheading and I don’t always agree but its been a while. I am not a fan of the cold. But its much colder here on the homewater. Living in the PNW one does have to get comfortable with varying degrees of cold. I am looking forward to camping and chasing fish. Rediscovering what winter steelheading on the OP is.

It is familiar but new. The rivers, the gear, reading the water, the rythym of the day, its all fresh which is something I am looking forward to after a long and very trout focused season. Taking a week or two to plug back into water, fish, the boat, and the people sharing the experience with you seems like a good way to kill some offseason time.

There is the anticipation now. Tying flies, squaring away gear, packing for camp life, and doing all the stuff and things that are the preamble to the trip. Feels good to be in that place after a month plus off.

So I will see ya riverside on the westside anglers. Headed out Monday with the Hog. Stay tuned for more.

Tamarack

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Off Season Grooves.

I am working on filling fly tying orders. It looks a little like this.

I have flies up for sale on the website, or you can email or call for orders. Keeping busy this off season.

Happy Off Season Anglers!

Tamarack

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Where it rains up…

So I headed west recently. Went to the Olympic Pennisula. The OP.

It’s been close to 10 years since I have been out that far. I fished a lot of river’s in a short time. I was hungrier for big fish and had the steelhead bug from the Klick, Wenatchee, and Methow. I wanted to see the rainforest and test myself on the famed OP. As a younger angler in the PNW I felt it was part of the process to try my hand and cast at OP Steel.

I sucked at steelhead fishing. My spey cast is still shit. It’s never been my thing. I nymphed a lot which is dirty, and I did throw gear for steel and salmon at that time.

I only swing now. Not because I am pretentious, its just how I prefer to fish for salmon and steel. I personally want to improve my spey and swinging skills and if I hook or catch fish thats great. I have caught my steelhead and salmon of a lifetime already. These days I am not chasing much more than a better spey cast.

That takes a lot of the pressure off and gives me a different perspective than I had when I was younger. And with the current state of our salmon and steelhead fisheries I am just out for the experience and place, fish or not. Its more therapeutic. I never want to guide steelhead. Just want to get my swing on in a pretty place. I am also a much better angler compared to my younger self so I am interested to see how things go.

I remember winter steelheading back then. I remember one adventure 4 straight days of rain on 2 different rivers. Rain so heavy it hit the river and splashed so hard it hit you in the chin. It rained so hard it rained up. The last day I did hook into 3 and land 1 which is better than I usually do.

I remember being cold and wet and full of whiskey for a good portion. I was eager for fish and didn’t appreciate the place I was in as much as I should have. I would tell my younger self to slow down and delve into the experience more…fish are secondary. That is my mentality going into winter steelheading for the first time in a long time. Peer pressure coupled with my current situation, epic boredom level, and just for the pure wanting to do it and having the ability…so why not.

I spent some time visiting friends, getting my bearings over there again, get familiar with the area and drive since me and the hog gotta trek over the pass in the winter. May have to find a place to stick my boat on that side…hmmm. I also just wanted to see the place again. It is one of the most unique places I have ever been. From the mountains of Colorado, deserts of south Idaho, mountains of north Idaho, Montana, Yellowstone, Glacier, B.C., Alaska, and anywhere in Washington…the OP and the Rainforest and waterways of the area are by far some of the coolest places to let your outdoorsy side out.

Its cold here in Roslyn, here soon we won’t see temps above freezing very much. The OP is a little warmer, albeit wetter.

There is old water there I would like to rediscover for myself. There may be a fish or two, maybe some to harvest, but I am chasing a better cast, days spent in a faintly familiar place, having and sharing new experiences.

See ya riverside somewhere over on the rainy side.

Tamarack.

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Checked Out

I spent the past week dinking around on the westside and the OP. I needed to get outta town. I have been looking at the Yakima since September non stop it feels like. I have also settled into this new life I have a little and was stir crazy but didn’t really want to fish. I enjoy driving and seeing things. I even enjoy driving at night. And since my accident it has taken me a bit to get back into driving without anxiety. A little face your fear kinda thing driving on that side of the state. Holy hell. But 101 up the south sound and up through Port Angeles is fucken gorgeous and has way less traffic and is mostly 55 mph which is totally my speed. Not 84 like everyone on the damn freeway. Shit people slow down. I did drive by a lot of wicked accidents in all that rain…just slow down. Srsly. Anyway.

So driving is much easier.

I also just needed to recconect with a few people. Not being with my kids sucks, so surrounding myself with good people that have kept an eye on me and have been there for me seemed appropriate. I am kind of a bum right now and just needed a check out and river peeps understand that best.

Change of scenery, unplugging from fishing, and kind of taking a big breath before the cold sets in. Also setting up fishing plans on the OP when things start rolling is in the works. It takes me a bit to settle especially after this season. Even my roomate and fishing partner is getting anxious and stir crazy. Trout bums, dirtbags, guides, river rats, and ski bums alike know all about the off season woes. I have some experience with the offseason, but this one will be the first of many, much different off seasons. So filling time with new adventures, expanding business, making time for my kids when feasable, but also to keep myself from just sitting and wasting the winter away watching netflix stuffing munchies in my face. So stay moving and chase fish.

So I checked out and thought shit out while being around good people and cool places. Back to it anglers…off season is here.

See ya riverside on the warm days anglers.

Tamarack

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Off Season Settling

The season has finally come to a halt for me. It is cold, fish are on the slow drop to hibernation, and my body is tired. I spent a lot of time riverside this year. My second busiest year in 5.

I have lost more weight this season. I am also in really good shape post trout chasing. But I can feel physically, that I did a lot with my body this year. Couple that with my car accidnet and broken finger both of which I could feel ware my body more this summer and fall…and I am ready to just make myself sit still for a bit and let everything rest. The snow will be here soon…and I will go outside and play in it.

Things are slow here in Roslyn. A pace I am familiar with during the cold months. I do miss my children, but I will see them soon enough. Trying to figure out what to do with myself with time I didn’t think I would have has been interesting and anxiety filled. I have good friends that have gone out of their way to help me through this rapid though. The best part of the river is through and around the bend.

I tie, and as the off season really setttles in I become more obsessed with it. I am still not there yet…it was a busy year and a crazy end so fishing and work stuff in general has little appeal. I read a lot, spend most mornings filling my brain with the things I don’t have time to absorb when troot are on it. Not much of a tv guy or sports. I do listen to a lot of music. I have spent time researching redfish, southern salt water fishing, new flies, I am into a few podcasts, and I have watched some of the YouTube’s. I also have spent a lot of time reading up on the current sitution with our salmon steelhead fisheries here in the PNW. Looking at scientific research, new findings, from multiple viewpoints and sources. While I may have taken a step back from volunteer hours I am still constantly updating myself with the issues our fishieries, wildlife, and industry are facing.

The slower pace is welcome. The season is a constant flow of people, energy, adrenaline, physical and mental labor, and I keep it up at a non stop pace for the most part. Constant stimulation. Waking with the river, plugged in and constantly adjusting and fine tuning. My eyes are tired from looking at moving water and tiny flies. Off at dark and back at it again. So I will take some time for respite.

I know that call and pull outward will hit me soon. I cannot sit still for long. I will crave adventure and new experiences, personally, professionally, and angling wise before long. I do enjoy solitude and have the ability to seek it out this time of year. With how many people I interact with in this gig, I enjoy not having to be a people person a little bit. Just check out. When I am guiding its one side of me so to speak…not a character…its a huge part of who I am and its organic my energy. Off river…I am quite a bit different. Being here in Roslyn I see a lot of clients and fellow anglers that have noticed. I tend to keep to myself more, not into large groups or loud places, just a lot quieter…like hibernating I guess.

I find that the off season is more for reflection and connection with those people who are closest to you. I have a lot to reflect on. I also have time to connect with those people who I hold dear. I also have new paths laid out in front of me with my personal and professional life that I can venture down. Staying on a positive and forward thinking path with my off river and on river life.

I feel like I have made it through the hardest water on this stretch of river. Still some rollers and rocks to set lines on…that technical shit I like to row. But you have to get through the sporty stuff for the really good water…

See ya riverside on the warm days anglers.

Tamarack.