Tis a fish

Every season I find a fish. Or better put…my fish.  Every year I scour the river from top to bottom…mostly up top…in search of a Yakima River Trout that will test me.  I find several of these troots each year.  I keep some for myself but I mostly put others on them.  I do this because these are some of the hardest trout to trick.  If I can get clients to trick them…then I know I am groovy. 

If you’re a client, these are the fish I warn you about.  The troots with names, that live in really prime lies. the ones I go back up river for. These are the fish others pass by and leave for their days off or for more experienced clients.  No matter your experience level…I will give you a shot if you listen.  These are the fish you don’t see…or barely see.  The kind of troot, tricking is only the first hurdle.  Landing them takes more skill and typically team work. If you’re a client you know these fish.  Only land 40 percent of these trout anglers. The odds are never in your favor.

Clients are one thing.  I am still an angler at my core. So I take the opportunity with a few of these trout.  I have one spot in particular that has tested me each season for the past 5…this year…2020…I finally found success. 

The Cle Elum is no longer a secret.  You can blame me.  I keep sending people to it. But if you’re not experiencing these places why would you care about them.  I love the Cle Elum. It is one of my favorite wading rivers in the late season.

There is a spot, not hard to find. Up river from the bullfrog tiny house bridge. The river goes into the trees and flows heavy and fast up against a cut bank with overhanging limbs and snags. There used to logs in there but they moved out. Which may explain my success as I have broken fish off under the logs in this spot more times than I care to admit. There is video over the seasons of me battling and losing fish in this spot. Like I said. 40 percent see the net.

There is always a large trout here. Its a prime lie just large enough for a small pod of 10 to 14ers or one really big 18er plus. If you’re lucky the big one is there.

The water is tricky. Its compact. River is only 25 to 30 ft wide. Deepest spot along the cut bank is 4 feet. Just slow enough along the substrate to give a cushion for a large trout to chill and eat, safe from predators and within travel distance from a deep slow pool down river. It’s money. There are overhangs and snags above and below the river surface, faster water that others may pass later in the year looking for that walking speed water. But rainbow trout…big ones…like that fast water when its 48 degrees or warmer and it was holding right at 50 in late October.

I came to the spot last. Knowing the fish would be most active after 2 pm. Knowing I only had about a 45 minute window that the fish would be really active I waited for that window. I nymphed as there was no bugs after 2, I was hoping to pick some off with BWOs but alas that was wishful thinking. A pats stone nymph in a size 8 coffee and a small size 16 tungsten bead mayfly nymph. Nothing fancy.

It took 4 presentations. When the indicator slid into the slipstream of the current and hovered slightly on the edge of the fast water near the edge of the small bucket that formed along the bank that cut in slightly….it went down hard. Then went down river and I saw the flash of the leviathan.

My heart fluttered and my body flooded with adrenaline. Immediately feeling the power of the trout and realizing I had put myself right back into this situation like so many previous seasons in this spot. I focused, played the fish coaching myself the same way I coach my clients. Shit works. The fish came into the net…and finally after seasons of trial and error…success.

Tis a fish

Even an experienced angler like myself finds challenges and has skills tested and honed through troot. The Yakima still tests me. Learning and becoming an angler on this river will put you on the fast track to becoming a good angler. My clients that started as noobs are a testament to it.

Those trout that test you, make you come back for more punishment, the ones that teach you as much as enrage while also enriching you. Angling is one of the only activities that does that. After 16 seasons chasin trout on the Yakima I still find myself enthralled by the wild trout that reside within her waters. After 6 years of guiding full time…I still seek out the challenge of those trout and the clients I get to introduce to them.

Tis a troot out there for ya anglers. Tis a troot that is the culmination of your efforts, the time, the patience, the trial and error…coming together and locking you into your epitome of angling at that time. Cherish those moments, those fish, and what they mean to you. Think about where they come from, what they’ve endured up to the point of the battle with you. Ponder your own journey to that moment. Both on and off river.. Two species meeting one another…its not a trivial thing and is so much more than just a big trout in your hands.

See ya riverside anglers.

Tamarack

Thankful

Its a tough one at times to be thankful and happy this off season. Loneliness, something I think many anglers and especially guides feel…pandemic or not. Many of us are more lonely than we have ever felt this year. Being away from loved ones, sacrificing time…which we only have so much of, to try and be safe and responsible during this crazy shit.

I am comfortable with the loneliness. We is tight. From my personal life to my professional. Doing things more solo now than I ever have. But is it really?

Yes I haven’t spent time with friends and the few people I consider family. I didn’t guide or fish with people and share in that with near as many as I normally do. It has taken its tole. But despite the pandemic, lockdowns, losing money, and not getting to do what it is I love and enjoy to do positive things have come about.

Personally, the pandemic has made me have to get my feet under me quickly after 2019. Knowing I am a shenanigan magnet I couldn’t be two steps behind starting this spring and I had plenty of help from those closest to me getting my feet under me before this shit set in. I will forever be grateful for people like Troy, Pat, and John. And to those thank random check in on me. Even when I don’t respond. You know who you are. The texts at weird hours, the phone calls outta nowhere. I thank you truly.

The pandemic hit and things went to shit. But riverside there is always stuff and things that happen. Like rods breaking, lack of supplies, broken trucks, fucked up trailers, uncooperative fish, weather, flows, what have you. The normal ebb and flow…testing ones patience ever more during the pandemic. Battling riverside shenanigans is something I am rather accustomed to so I dealt with it.

But that pesky off river stuff is relentless. From the financial strain came a new slew of problems I was unprepared for. But money is easily fixed with more money….just gotta make it. And when this is all over I have no doubt I will get that sorted. Time and money solve a lot. And there will be a decent recovery period for everyone when this finally starts to be over.

I miss my kids. We have sacrificed seeing each other a lot during all of this. I keep a lot of that close. Stings. But they are safe and we will see each other when this is all over. Just weird. Really fucken weird. Thankful they are with loved ones and safe during all this.

Car broke down, had so much help getting a new one and getting it road worthy. I can’t thank Bern and the crew at Rally Tuned in Cle Elum for their help getting me rolling again this season.

I had my gal bladder try to kill me. And I wouldn’t have gotten through it without the help of someone really special to me. Many know I met someone just before the pandemic hit. Through all this I have been fortunate to have someone like Kearstyn come into my life. I wouldn’t have made it through the surgery and to be honest, this whole pandemic without her. People come into your life when you least expect it and not always the way you anticipate. Finding a persom that compliments my weirdness, vibes with me, and brings happiness everywhere with them is someone I am very thankful for. Thankful isn’t enough word for it.

I have much to be thankful for this season. Health is a big one. My clients continued support and patronage. The people I consider family, my friends. Even though things are distant that connection and that gratitude is there.

I miss you all. This will be over soon. I hope you all have found things that make you happy, connected with those in your pandemic bubble. Be safe, spread love, and be grateful…be oh so grateful. There is a lot of loss and turmoil out there right now. Many people are missing loved ones at the table this year. Many aren’t seeing loved ones so they have a seat next year.

Be safe anglers. See ya riverside soon.

Tamarack

Shit’s on Pause

Well. I guess I could blog. Its been rather hard to find the energy and the creativity to write this season. I posted less this season across all my platforms. Just not a lot to say I guess.

At first the pandemic scared me, I still don’t wanna get sick. I spent enough time in the hospital this year with my damn gal bladder finally trying to literally kill me. I also had the swine flu back in 2011 or whatever. It sucked. I was in the hospital, my eldest got it and I got super scared. Fast forward to 2020 and I was scared like everyone else. Then the lockdown took its toll and tanked the early season. I was still scared but was hopeful for the summer and fall save.

Then memorial day hit. And my hopes started to fade. Despite the lockdown being lifted trips still trickled. Blame it on what have you, the scare of the virus, the economy tanking, just a feeling of why go fishing with all this stuff happening in our world. I felt that a lot. Seemed wrong to be out when so many couldn’t. Or I would find myself deep in thought about the myriad of things, election, climate change, virus. protests, the reasons behind them, it felt wrong at times to be out there, and at other times it felt like the only place I should…or could be. Just funk all fucken season.

July hit, and I thought maybe. But no. Like 12 guide days in July when normally I would work 28 to 30 something trips with a handful of two a days in there. August came and brought fires and smoke on top of everything else. So the summer dried up in the aftermath of the pandemic lockdowns and the now every season effects of climate change.

The fall came and at this point….in all honesty…I just wanted it to be over anglers. I had a decent amount of trips for the fall. It ended a week earlier than I would have liked, and the snow and cold scared away the weak as I like to say…but the fishing kinda just fell off at the end too. Bwos never really materialized and the caddis popped early and went quick. Salmon showed up late and in few numbers, and we had some crazy salmon pulses that just fucked with shit. Happens. Normal year, wouldn’t have been a thang…but this season it was like rubbing bleach in the wound.

I had and still have pandemic fatigue. Burnt out on a weird season. Still trying to recover from the previous years shit show of shenanigans. Just exhausted of watching money never even get a chance to get made. Tired of elected people who are supposed to be helping from state to the top…not. feeling helpless. Missing my children, not sure when it will be safe enough to see them. Thanksgiving, and it looks like Christmas plans have changed due to the pandemic. With this past season the funds aren’t there to do anything anyway. You get to a point where it beats you down. Closes you off. Doesn’t even feel like a year has gone by. Someday it feels like 3 years. Other days it feels like I’m back in November 2019. Ugh. FML.

I have been fortunate to have a new person in my life that has eased the sting of this all. And I have endured some hard shit in my life and at least with this pandemic I am in the same boat with everyone else. Having someone to get through this with is a huge positive. Lucky we met a week before this shit went down.

Some other help would be nice, but I won’t holf my breath. That first set of PPP helped, but like every other business it wasn’t enough and the false promise of things going back to normal didn’t help. 2 in 6 small businesses have closed across the country. Half could close by next year after what is looking to be an abysmal holiday season. A new wave of restrictions is already taking its toll on the small communities I frequent or used to frequent.

There is some hope. I made it through the season. And I can tough it out through a dark winter or whatever they call it. February ain’t that far off. At this point I’d prefer to be told to stay inside, here’s a check, wait until the vaccine is ready, or whatever. Fat chance, but I tried to work through this shit all year and it didn’t really work. I did my fucken part. So did so many others. And the lockdown before flattened the curve sure…but it just put that shit on pause. And we all knew better in hindsight. No longer scared, or really fatigued with this shit….just angry now. Things should move faster in the 21st century.

Everything is on pause. From bills getting paid, to flies getting tied, even texts getting sent. That dark cloud hovers over you and sinks you down. Effective against the rona, but not great for well being. Its been about 2 weeks since the river and I still feel the funk of the season on me. I look at the bank account and the funk thickens. I look at the photos and videos from the season and feel the funk seep. We had some great fish this year. I shared some amazing moments during this whacked out time with clients. I have to remind myself to be thankful for that. I have to remind myself that everyone’s shit has gotta be on pause if my trout bum ass stuff is.

I never really felt like I plugged into the Yakima this season. Never got a chance to. Didn’t get to wake with the river in the spring after what was a shitty winter following a hell of a season in 2019. So I never got to feel her ebb and flow, tap in, listen to what she was whispering. I just felt disconnected. It showed in my guiding. Maybe not to clients but there was a funk there. I tried to remedy it. But just couldn’t.

With my offseason on pause now too, I am hoping I can hit play when the thaw comes. I hope things improve this winter. I feel like they will. Its this slow painstaking process but I feel like its gonna get at least a little better. Maybe not for a month, fuck maybe two. But I see it. I won’t really be fishing. I packed the boat up early. Most of the fly rods are busted if I am honest (couldn’t afford to repair them or wait for them anyway), fly lines are worn to hell. I don’t even think I have leaders. Don’t think I will chase steel this year. Travel is kinda outta the question. Hell I can’t even tie the flies I want because I ran outta hooks. So shit is just on pause.

Like previous winters. I will hibernate, I will tie, I will play a lot of video games. I will read. Make videos, posts. All that stuff. Unfortunately un-pause isn’t as quick as you think. Its like you’re wearing a cape of tar or mollases. Every time you try to adjust it or move it, even take the damn thing off! Its exhausting and requires more effort than neccessary. That’s the best way to describe 2020 for me. I will get it off.

It starts with a schedule, even during a semi lockdown or whatever you wanna call the dystopian cluster we find ourselves in. I stay up late and wake late in the offseason. Like an owl. Waking up late morning sometimes noon. I am usually on rivertime all season, but I am naturally nocturnal anyway. I am back on the yoga. 5 days a week for minimum 25 minutes is the weekly goal right now. Eat good, still after the gal bladder. Ain’t gaining one of those 130 lbs back.

But the offseason is also prep time. Even after 2020…2021 needs to be prepped for. Gotta pump yourself up to kick next year right in the sack. I find no better way to work outta this years funk then to prep for the next. Tie, create, explore, read, fine tune, hone skills, try new things, study, improve myself so I can relay that to clients in the coming season. There is hope. And a reason to stay inside and tie flies still. So I guess I will take it. Spend time with those I can safely. Talk with my kids and wait patiently to see them again. Prep for the new season. Fuck we might all be vaccinated and mask free next year! So don’t let this dark winter get ya down to much. All you can do is slog though it. Slogs usually lead to great places. A waterfall with a pool filled with eager trout. A bend in the river not seen before, an opportunity at a moment to behold with a wild fish in a wild place just through there, bushwhack and slog through…its worth it.

See ya in the other side anglers.

Tamarack

Fishtober till its over! Last dates available for October

Hey Anglers. The end of the season is nigh. I have the following dates open this month:

October 13th and 14th

16th through the 19th

21st thru 23rd and the 25th

27th through the 31st

The BWOs are popping, the caddis are peaking, fish are slurping. Time to get in on the last and best days to fish the Yakima River.

See ya riverside anglers.

Tamarack

Tis weird but what else is new…

A blog post! Ya, I have been out of it lately. This covid makes everything weird. The lack of work is excruciating and I know I am in the same boat as many so lets not dwell on it. Lets just acknowledge that covid on top of everything else crazy going on right now if fucken shit up and we gotta get through it.

Lets talk about fishing. Its summer, the flows are wicked high, and its busy….really busy. I have been doing this a bit…its busy. Now I haven’t been out as much as usual. Days I don’t guide which are a lot currently, I would normally just snorkel or fish. But with how busy amd crowded just about everywhere is…I end up staying in the house. Thats the covid there. Keeping things tight financially seems to be best right now and fishing and snorkeling everyday costs money.

The hoppers are here. As are the short wing or summer stoneflies. We have caddis in the evening and I suspect thr early AM fishing is decent but I haven’t ventured riverside at 5 am since the OP. Might need to remedy that. The big thing with the river is the big ass flows. Its rippin’ 3 to 4 times its normal size, so thats makes fishing….interesting and quirky. Water temps are stable and fish are on the bank, but I can’t help but think these fish have just grown accustomed to staying deep during heavy flows like this. The Yakima has always been kinda weird in the summer. And 2020 is no different. Could be the pressure too. The amount of traffic on the river is considerably higher than any other time of the season, even during the pandemic. But troots are smart and in my snorkeling I find the majority of the fish deep on thr bottom. Save for the ones that get forced onto the bank. We dont see thr big pods as much in the summer up high in the water column. The pods are deep along the bottom of the river. Nymphing is a challenge even with sll the new fancy stuff because the rivet is so heavy and fast. Presentations become a problem due to current speed both with its effect on the boat as well as the nymph rig.

That’s why I focus on mostly dry fly fishing. Opportunistic feeds are typically easier to come by in the summer and the added flows make takes explosive or super sneaky…both of which are intoxicating. Which is exactly what people need right now. Something that envelops the mind for a few hours.

I know its weird out there anglers. I am typically turing trips away but not this season. Can’t get things repaired quickly with rods, supplies are down across the industry, and we only have 3 months of trout season left. Even with everything I still want to chase troot albeit the drive is subdued. Sitting in my house hasn’t been as helpful or fun as I thought. And instead of chasin work I think I will just go back to chasin troot and being a bum about it more.

The river will provide. She always does in one way or the other. I may struggle financially this season, but those moments with wild places, and the trout that reside there will not experience themselves. And if everything is gonna go to shit I would rather spend it with trout and rivers opposed to sitting in my house sucked into the twittersphere and social media news cacophony. And call of duty only holds my attention for so long. Fishing is so much better…so lets go fishing.

Tamarack

Summertime during the ‘rona

Well. This year sucks. Just all around sucks as everyone knows. Everyone is dealing with it in some way. And its not just the virus, its a list of things on a global, national, local, and all the way down to the individual level. Shit sucks.

So that might be why trips have slowed way down, its not my first economic shitstorm, its not my first slow summer, and its not my first year the Yakima River has been cold hearted and down right mean most days. She’s nice like once a week.

It was pretty busy there at the start of things opening. But as we can all see…it hasn’t gotten that much better virus wise. So I get why things are weird, we all get it in some way. Every single client, every single one….has brought it up along with a myriad of other things that are on people’s mind during this crazy time in our lives. Its been an interesting season fosho.

Fish seem to be a secondary thing. It seems that people are more just into the being out and doing something. And that is great when the river is being persnickety and I have built my trips on the experience not the fish. I also have to mention that I have never had a season where clients have been this open with perosnal feelings, opinions, deep conversations…its been a very human heavy experience as opposed to fish.

Its odd, not in a negative way, just a noticable and rather different way people have been this season. Maybe thats a benefit of all this crazy…we start to connect human to human again. The importance of that is immeasurable and something that has been lost in this world. I feel privileged to have a career that affords me that direct connection with so many different people each day we share the river.

While the fishing has been weird. It started off with a bang. But big water, and wicked cold water are the culprit right now. A mild start to the summer, colder temps for longer up high made the snow come off more normal this season. Been a while since irrigators got 100% across the board. And the fishing is showing that. I don’t like to sell the river when it isn’t producing, so to speak, and I always tell it straight in live updates. Ask the clients I have had and they will tell you, working our asses off and just getting it handed back to us. Part of the game we play fly fishing. I am used to it…but its still maddening.

A few other things make it funky this year. Lots of traffic, like a lot. And with covid closing a single access point off also puts more pressure in other sections which is also affecting things. Take it from someone who has sat in snorkel gear underwater and watched boat after boat pass over a run with fish and after about 10 the fish move out of range of things. And they take longer to reset the more constant the pressure. They adapt very quickly to their environment, when a bunch of boats, floaters and traffic is going over head and lots of fish get caught and spice things up down there…the trout adapt and switch over to other holding water, other food, and wait until things change to their benefit. I have seen it with my eyeholes. So the amount of traffic is a factor at times too.

So there’s a lot going on, off and on river. Personal life off river is just as weird. With truck shenanigans, slow work, just a lack of doing things I normally do. I usually go out and do stuff this time of year, fish, snorkel, camp, hike, but with how slow work is, and with how crowded things are and all the other shit…I end up staying in most of the time. Don’t even get me started on how weird sleep is.

With all that this its been hard to focus, hard to do a lot of things. And even after unplugging on the Joe and fishing in that dreamscape of trouty-ness, I still just feel off. Like everyone I know, but it helps to put it out there and I honestly have nothing else to blog about.

The heat is here and so is the big water. Running at 3800 cfs now. Big flows…awww ya. The grasshoppers are here, and the summer stones are showing up early! A few more days of this heat and these flows and the fish will settle in. They will….and they will eat. The big problem with eats right now is water temperature. Its been hovering at the 50 to 53 degree mark since things opened. Every time it warms to prime levels, we get more water in the system from the reservoirs…which has kept it cool. Great for trout, tougher for fishing. They just don’t have to eat that much when its that cold, and they eat mostly caddis off the bottom when its this cold and this big. Snorkeling shows you a lot. And when we could pump stomachs back in my earlier days every fish had a belly full of caddis in some form from May to end of June anyway. Its the most abundant food source here…and its mostly on the bottom of the river. Which is also where currents and flows are slowest. And at 3800 cfs and 52 degrees or less down there…why would trout eat anything else? And fishing for them is usually 6 to 8 feet down, but most of the fish are still out of reach. Wanna nymph 10 to 15ft down and drift 15 miles of river and basically just mend all day….me neither.

Now that flows are up and temps are up its gonna warm and fish will have to eat more and seek out other food. Hence the hoppers, stones, and steamers. Thats why fishing the LC has been a bit better on days. Because the water temp hits 54 and 55 and boom! Light switch on for trout eats.

We are almost there in the upper. This week. I have had a few days that flirt with that switch but not a full on. Here very soon, since its almost 90 out the past few days…and we will be there. Already starting to see the caddia harch, the stoneflies on the banks, and you can hear the hoppers. And the flows are big…so fish will be right up on the bank soon.

We will be starting floats wicked early soon too. And this weirdness now only means awesomeness for the fall. October caddis shoukd be amazeballs this season with all thos water making it so they don’t get stranded during the flip flop when flows drop like last year. There is also the maybe of things being better world wise in the fall.

I will be out on the river here leading up to the weekend as I am fairly certain that switch is gonna get flipped. I have lots of days open for the summer fishing and the hopper fishing!!! God I love hoppers and this is a great year for them with the big water. Mmmmm….big foamalicious hoppers and big slappy eats.

I invite you to come out and fish the summer. I know its weird. But its a safe activity during these times. Get a half day in, fish, enjoy some time unplugged, maybe trick a trout or two. Share a day with your favorite human, or fishing partner, let me facilitate some stress relief for ya, and we can all get through this shit show together and trick some trout and laugh a bunch along the way.

See ya riverside anglers.

Tamarack

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

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