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Mayflies

I love mayfly fishing. There’s not much I like more than fishing a dainty dry and getting a slurp from a trout. Mayfly fishing can be technical and heartbreaking. One of the ways I break down mayflies is by tying several different versions of the insect to entice a fish to strike. I have lost count of the times I have found a pod of feeding trout, threw a pattern, gotten the snub, switched to a different version or representation of the bug, and come up with a troot. I love figuring out the perfect drift and pattern to get that completely unabashed sluuurp, from a wary fish that has been duped. Mmmm….success. That competition between angler and wild animal…it’s what gets the juices flowing.

Mayfly eaters can be picky, especially on the Yak, and with the BWO hatch only weeks away and the March Browns soon after…my dreams are filled with pods of hungry spooky fish.

I created a series of YouTube videos breaking down mayfly hatches, which flies I use and how to tie them, and when, where, and how I fish them. Breaking down a mayfly hatch and fishing it with a purpose can produce a lot more takes on your fly and get a few more troots to your net.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Tamarack

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The Cabin Fever

I have been fishing for a while now. I have spent many a winter day knee deep in frigid water rolling and chucking nymph rigs with big pink bobbers on, ridiculously long drifts patiently waiting for the indicator to drop. That rush of adrenaline warming your bones and making the heart flutter…only to learn its a dirty whitey getting you all hot and bothered for nothing. I would catch a handful of decent sometimes rather large trout and that would be enough to keep me going through the cold months. As I have gotten older and more seasoned in my angling the allure of winter trout fishing has lost its luster. Its not that I won’t venture forth riverside to chase a trout in the winter…its just…well….I have done it a lot….and I get bored.

If you have fished with me, especially on a guided trip you know that I am high energy. Above most other anglers and guides I meet. The winter time fishing is more geared to those that just need to get out, don’t have a lot of options, or when the cabin fever is unbearable. Its also a younger anglers game in my opinion. That is not a slight on younger anglers or older, its just the majority of people who send me photos and ask me questions concerning winter time fishing are younger less experienced anglers. Winter time trout fishing is easy. For a handful of reasons, trout are sleepy and they don’t move very much. They are settled into winter lies and holding water, slow, deep, easy to spot and even easier to fish. Winter fish aren’t very hungry, so when they do eat it is typically whatever is in front of them. How many anglers catch fish on the dirty san juan worm in December compared to June? The options for trout are limited in the winter months and they are not near as picky when the buffet of food is churning down river during the regular trout season. Winter fishing is typically two things…slow swinging streamers….and nymphing.

Now I rag on nymphing a lot if you’ve been in my boat. I’ve done it all, the Euro, Czec thing, triple rigs, sinking lines, the turd worm combo, the 13 split shot depth charging that deep hole everyone talks about. Done and tried it all and have had plenty of success…and that’s why I don’t particularly care for nymphing. I have watched thousands of indicators drop, had plenty of tags and grabs on a slow swung streamer at the bottom slow tailout of the run. After a while…it just gets boring to me. I know how to do it, can put clients on it, and can teach it, but for me personally…its kind of a been there done that mentality. Plus when the regular trout season is in full swing, nymphing becomes less of a necessity and more part of the arsenal. Breaking down hatches, fishing the pre hatch, the migrations, and targeting fish that are keyed up on nymphs is a much more fun application of the technique. But that requires water temps to be optimal for bugs and fish to be moving around and percolating. I will admit, nymphing the pre March Brown hatch is still one of my favorite things to do, there is just something classic and intoxicating about dropping a pheasant tail through a three to four foot riffle tailout and hooking into a big ass fish taking the easy food before the bugs start popping and the trout start topping off their tummies with the adults mayflies. Or the swung PMD soft hackle in the early summer mornings as the river wakes up and a quick and nasty cutty swipes it hard and jolts you awake better than the quad shot you downed at 6 am.

Nymphing has its place for me personally as an angler, and every time I grab that nymph rod I either slay the shit with it…or literally come up empty. I cannot tell you how many times I have nymphed a run at different depths with different rigs and come up empty…then throw a dry in the right spot with a good drift and produced. As I have gotten older and more experienced it happens more often than not. Guiding nymphing is a teaching tool and I never use it as a time killer. Too many times, and when I would work for outfitters, I would be told to use nymphing to kill time when you know the fishing will be slow. I just stopped guiding when the fishing was consistently slow or consistently nymphing. If its gonna be a nymph only kinda day, I will be upfront about it and to be honest…I don’t really want your money on days like that. Nymphing to kill time is a shit game and it usually ends up with too many flies lost to rock fish and logs. When I know nymphing is gonna produce because the bugs are moving around as well as the fish…that’s when it gets done in my boat. But if a fish will take a dry…I will probably have you throw that instead…and just about every angler I take…like 97%, appreciate that. Nymphing is easy compared to dry fly fishing. Because nymphing you have gear and rigs taking a lot of the work out of the equation. Dry fly fishing is where skill, technique, and experience prevail.

So when I get asked why I don’t do a lot of personal winter fishing, or wait until late February to March to start guiding the simple answer is I just get bored nymphing. Guiding in the winter is cold, slow, and typically six to eight fish or less kinda days, especially with less experienced anglers. The science, river, and trout, are all working against the angler in the winter months. Trout metabolism is related to water temp, so when that water temp is barely touching 38 to 40 degrees….trout just ain’t that interested. When that water temps starts pumping up to 42 and above, those few degrees making all the difference, that is when you start seeing me out there. There is also the added time I take in the early season to get back into shape, work the kinks off and get the stank off before I start guiding. I am a professional and I won’t take trips if I feel I personally am not ready to take on all the things that make a good guiding day. From the people, to the angling, rowing, to the teaching aspect, of a guided trip…I am just not willing to sacrifice my service level for a handful of cold weather trips…plus the older I get the less I like the cold.

But that cabin fever…I understand it gets to us all. Those of us who have had a good number of years working through it, experiencing the winter fishing, can handle it a bit better. Our tolerance for lack of fishing time is higher. I haven’t touched a trout since October, but the winter time is also the time I get to take a break from that part of my life, enjoy my family, binge on Netflix and Video Games, and spend time tying. There is also the added part of fish needing a break just as much as I do. I fished over 200 days this past year, and guided a huge chunk of those, more than I thought after getting tax shit in order. Those trout need a break from my beardy face. When you put that much pressure on fish, especially on one river, I just see it as the respectful thing to do giving the river and fish some time off. As I have become a more developed and resource conscious angler, allowing the river and trout time to rest, grow, and just be trout without invading their world seems like the right thing to do. Also expanding to other fisheries in the winter time is something I have focused on this off season. Researching the southern salt and warm water species, looking at how I can make that a staple of my guiding career in the 5-10 year phase of my business, doing homework on warm freshwater species to give more variety and less pressure on the trout that I fish, and looking to new trout waters in other states to broaden my guiding career to more than just the Yakima. I am working on places in Idaho and Montana, as I enter my 5th year of business. I will no longer be working for Washington State guide outfits or businesses, just my own business. Last season put a nasty taste in my mouth with too many in the Yakima guide community as our industry battles climate change. I also like money and to be honest…I make more working less days for myself than working for others. Leaving me time to work on expanding to new fisheries and giving me more time to fish for myself without sacrificing income. Plus I camp and guide for long periods of time now and days in between guiding this year I will be traveling and adventuring for myself more. I have spent more days than I can count on the Yakima River system and its not that I am bored or have fallen out of love with it, but its not enough, I want more and with the change to being a mobile operation…that is possible.

I am so looking forward to getting back into the game anglers. The Cabin Fever is starting to get to me I will be the first to admit that. I have even taken a look at the map for Silver Creek here in South Idaho and am waiting for a window of good weather to entice me riverside for some streamer and midge fishing chasing big browns. I am also starting to get into research and homework mode, watching videos, retooling my arsenal with new techniques and checking out new products. Learning more about new fish and rediscovering warm water fisheries like bass and musky. Getting back up on my trout stuff too, reading the same books and watching the same tutorials and videos I have for the past several seasons. Tying…gotta fill the guide boxes up for the year, I have a few thousand flies to get tied up for myself and clients to use as I would like to get through another season with only buying a few dozen flies. Plus watching the weather forecasts, snowpack charts, and river flows and reservoir levels, all that starts to become routine now. And blogging more than a few times a month to get the angling juices flowing and get clients and angles all hot and bothered about what is coming in only a handful more weeks. Its that time of year for me now. Where I slowly come out of hibernation and start getting back into that trouty fly fishy rhythm again.

Hope to see you out there this season Anglers. Trout YO Self 2019. Taking reservations for spring trips and I have 9 Open dates for Bass fishing the first part of April. Time to start getting ready. See ya riverside anglers.

Tamarack

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Tis the Season Anglers

Well, the new year is almost here. I am hard at work updating the website, reaching out to new contacts and looking at new waters to guide this coming season. One of the new things I will be offering clients is Bass Fly Fishing Trips. Both Large and Small Mouth bass are a freaking hoot on the fly and I am so looking forward to putting anglers on a new species for Tamarack’s Guide Service. Right now I have 10 dates, the first 10 days in April to be exact that are open for bass fishing.

Bass Fly Trips are Full Day only and will be $500 for 2 anglers and $400 for 1 angler. You can reserve here on the website, send me an email, or give me a call to reserve your day. $150 deposit. Of course if you have any questions just let me know. Super stoked to be doing more stuff this coming season…its not far off now anglers.

Tamarack.

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Off-season Blues: The quiet and solitude.

It is at this point that I am missing not only my boat, but also the quiet and solitude of the river life. This past season I was solo through the majority of the guide season. Living and guiding out of the truck and boat may have seemed crazy to some but it was an amazing experience and I cannot wait to be back at it.

Mornings and evenings I would have the place to myself. Waking up riverside, having camp coffee while sun came up, watching, listening, feeling the world around me awaken. The evenings winding down to a silent simmer as the trees and river said goodnight to each other. Listening to the owls talk to each other, the elk and deer rustling in the thickets as they bed down. The smells of ponderosa pine, that fishy, wet, algae smell as the river perks up. The bugs…oh do I miss the sound of bugs flying around.

It’s loud in the off-season. The sounds of civilization, cars driving by, construction, television, phones ringing and beeping; the sometimes sweet and other times down right annoying cacophony of my children or the snoring of my lady. I miss the solitude and the quiet. The crackle of a warm fire as the wet logs spit and sizzle. The sound of my lantern and the camp stove…

I become addicted to it all, and the yearning for it to be my everyday grows more palpable every day of the off-season.

The cold bite of the morning air that is fought off by a strong hot cup of coffee and the screech of the blue heron as it hunts the banks. I love to be alone. A fact that to this day the people around seem to not quite grasp. There is something about being alone away from it all that makes you appreciate the time with others but also the time unplugged from it all.

In the off-season I feel like I have little purpose some days. The long wait until I am back in the embrace of the things that make me whole outside of my loved ones. It can drive one a little insane…the cabin fever, the want and need to just be out of it…but so into that other something anglers and outdoorsy people crave.

We are at the halfway point and now the real test of patience comes. Can I keep from going crazy? Every off season I feel like I can’t take it anymore but that waiting makes the end result so much sweeter. I’m coming river…your frozen call this time of year is subdued by the ice and snow that softens your voice…and I can’t wait to answer back with the loud and boisterous calls that are so prevalent when we are together. Soon…soon….

Tamarack.

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Offseason Blues 1: I miss my boat.

Its December, which is my least favorite month of the offseason.  It hasn’t been above freezing for days now, there is now on the ground, and most trout are in trout-cicle mode.  The days are short, the nights are long, and even tough we are halfway through the non trouty time of year…we still have some time before I can start to get excited about the end of it all.

I am alive, just haven’t been focuses on the business much besides tying flies.  Which has been great and I’ve sold over 1000 flies since I got back into tying and selling with any real purpose.  Days during the offseason are hard for someone who spends most of the other days outside of winter, chasing trout, full of energy, and knee deep in river water.  The slow pace of the offseason, by this time, is brutal.  The boredom starts to set in, I have a hard time focusing on anything, and in all honesty…I really just miss my boat.

The Hog is put away, out in the garage away from the snow and elements.  She’s buried behind and under stuff and my oars are wrapped up and put away out of the cold.  I catch myself looking at my boat and wishing we were both rolling and rambling down the river.  I can hear the water lap at the underside of the hull, I can feel the current lift the vessel up as I back stroke, the pull of the water against my body, the boat gliding to and fro across the river.  The way the anchor rope sprays water across my face when I drop to hold a spot.  Hopping over the gunwale and landing with a splash as I walk up to the next riffle careful not to spook the fish lying, lurking, waiting for a meal.  I miss my boat.

December, just not the fishiest of months for a trout angler.

I check out in December, its that midway point where I know I still have 2 months before things start to get trooty again.  I sleep in late, stay up early, and try and keep the fact that I still have plenty of time not to fish off my mind.  My lady is working now, and hopefully getting a full time position at one of the local schools.  My eldest kids leave everyday for school and my youngest and I are at home hanging out.  Let me tell you, hanging with a 4 year old is pretty fun.  Throughout the trout season this past year Z was always telling me that my trips were the longest ever, being gone for weeks at a time she still is getting used to the lifestyle that her siblings have grown accustomed to.  She tends to sleep in my arms in the mornings and I am lucky to have a young one that is so easy going.  She definitely makes the offseason more bearable with her shenanigans and general awesomeness.  Its been a while since I had a 4 year old at home as her older brother is 9.  I still catch myself thinking, damn, we sure did wait a while in between to have that last kid.

The calls for when I will be back are starting to come in.  I have calls and messages asking what plans are, when I will start guiding again, can people reserve days…that cabin fever is setting in with anglers now.

I will be back on the Yak in the early spring.  Plan is to leave here around the 15th of February and spend the first few weeks looking at when things will thaw, when the hatches will start, and what other fish might be ready for some anglers.  I am watching the snow pack levels now, checking to see how the snow piles up and what kind of water supply we may have for the trout season.  The snow pack tells me what I can look forward to or trout fishing on the Yakima.  I am hoping for a better year than the last.  Snow pack was great last year but yet again it warms to fast and we have major runoff events that put a damper on fishing in the spring and early summer.  The snow leaving quickly also left us with a hot and dry summer with fishing conditions getting really crummy in August.  Its kinda the new norm, and no matter how much work is done in conservation, I can’t make it snow more, melt slower, or do much of anything about it.  With this gig you get what the river gives you and you do your best without jeopardizing the resource.

Last spring sucked on the Yak.  It was blown out a lot, we missed hatches due to it, and it seems that it gets busier and busier riverside.  So February and March there will be some trout fishing, but there will be other fish too, like bass and pike.  I will be spending time in the first few weeks of the season getting reacquainted with the water and fish that aren’t trout.  I spent a lot of time chasing other species with fly and rod and part of this new adventure is getting back into those fisheries.  I will also be looking at work in other states and on other rivers for trout, places less effected by climate change that give anglers and myself more options and new experiences.  The past 4 years I have focused all my attention on the Yakima, building that part of the business up, working on conservation, and putting people on those beloved wild trout.  This coming season I will be focusing on fishing more, working more, and exploring and rediscovering fisheries.  The end of the 2018 season I fished more than I have in the past several years.  I fished literally everyday whether with clients or by myself.  That trend will continue once I get back into it in a few long weeks.

Don’t despair anglers, we are over the hill now, we just have to get back down the other side.  Now is the time I start tying for myself and the guide year, sell more flies, and start the daily routine of checking snow pack, weather forecasts, management and rule changes, conservation opportunities, and blogging and engaging my client base regularly.  Sorry I have been dormant for most of the offseason up to this point.  It was a kinda rough trout season, but its a new year, a new adventure, and the cabin fever is slowly turning into that drive for fish snacking flies, pulling line, and getting me all hot and bothered.

Hope to see you out there this coming season.  Things are percolating slowly now as I patiently wait for the offseason to end…and I can get back into my boat.

 

Tamarack

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New YouTube content.

Hey anglers. I’ve got some new content coming up to the webasphere this week. Today’s was a video about feathers, ostrich, goose, turkey, and peacock to be exact. How to use them, why, what for, and my you nest daughter Zoey lends me a hand.

Go check it out on the YouTube, give it a like and a share, comment on stuff you’d like to see and maybe it will be in next weeks video.

You can view the new tutorial here:

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Ramblin Notes: coming to an end

My hands are bruised. Beat up from the boat and oars. I have broken fingernails caked with dirt and glue, and river sludge. I have tippet and line cuts in my fingers and the hair on my knuckles is singed.

My eyes hurt, strained from looking at moving water every day for weeks, and tracking flies. Lost my sunglasses the other day too. My arms are tired. Legs and hips too. I move a lot on the river. More than most of the other guides and anglers I see. In and out of the boat. The anchor feels heavy as I heft it out of the cold water and walk the boat downriver. Careful to let the anglers fish before the boat goes through. My feet roll over boulders and stone. My feet more sure footed these days than ever before. It’s always interesting how the end of the season leaves my body.

My mind isn’t thrashed this season. A lighter guide year will do that. But the fishing this late season has been nothing but fantastic. Even the slower days produce some fantastic fishing experiences. I can’t help but feel a lot of people missed out. I’m leaving early but I can already feel the slow down coming.

The rain pelts my tent outside. Only a few more days of camping riverside before I’m home with my family. I miss them terribly. Feel like I’ve forgotten their faces and the sound of them around me. I miss my dog. But the pull of trout on my soul is still ever present.

I have fished almost everyday… for months. Guiding or on my own I can count on my two hands how many days I haven’t fished. But still I want more. Don’t want it to end. I feel this want to chase finned critters that eat flies. Even the days this season where I found myself saying, nah I won’t fish today…and an hour later I’m knee deep in the river casting flies. After all this time I’m still addicted. More so than what I see riverside. I don’t see a lot of familiar faces fishing on days off…at least not as much as I would have thought. But it just leaves more for me…and I’m greedy for it. And have gotten really good at it as a result.

The late season is my speed, slow, cooler, days with low hanging clouds, a biting breeze, and trout that takes flies slow and with purpose. The dry fly fishing this late season has been fantastic and I’m ending the week during the peak of the upper river BWO mayfly hatch. Waiting to set, watching the fish come slow for the fly, or the aggressive smack on the skate, the take of the streamer, or even that all too obvious indicator drop…I still feel like I can’t get enough of it.

The end of the season also makes me care less about things. I care less about the other anglers, other boats, the drama, the politics, it’s the end of the season and I just want to catch fish. I’m an angler first, and a guide as a close second. My guiding changes in the fall. I’m more direct typically. Trout want it a certain way, hold in specific water, and I have learned all the intricacies and secrets the upper river here has been willing to share. I know the upper in the late season. I don’t fish anywhere else…because it’s too good to waste time in the other water. Fish want it perfect, and want an angler to be attentive and focused. We threw 6x today…and it was the only way to get some of them to eat. They also want a perfect cast and drift which make the difference between a few rises and takes and a lot more.

The fall rewards good anglers, and clients who listen, watch, and trust. I don’t like to be second guessed on how I read water in the fall. I get a little cranky about it. I spend a lot of time learning the fish in the late season. I’ve spent a lot of years learning it. It works and that’s why you book me in the fall. I’ve consistently caught fish every day for weeks, and as a guide its not all about the fish…but I am a guide and I put people on some fing trout in the fall. Some of them big, some really pretty, some small, some that just take the fly so damn good, all fun, and all part of the gig. They are all good fish, and we have a lot of fun getting after them, still to this day I think we are having more fun in my boat than others no matter how many fish.

Get into your work, get into your angling. You’re fucking fishing…its amazing, and a privilege for so many so don’t waste the opportunity or time when riverside. I cherish all my river time. This job constantly reminds me how rich a life I have to spend it out here with these animals and in these places. My clients remind me. This is a special thing, fly fishing. And yet I still can’t explain it, but spending so much time on the river these past 4 years and living on it, waking to it, enveloping my self in it even more, it changes you. Hard to explain, but all anglers share that…something…that fly fishing can do to an angler…if they keep walking up around that next bend.

Tamarack

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Last 3 open days!

Hello anglers, I have the 9th 10th and 11th open and that’s it.

I will be heading to Idaho for the offseason, and Texas to start exploring the southern fisheries and guide opportunities. I also have a lot of work to do this off season with lots of content for the website, YouTube stuff, flies for sale, soft goods, a new boat to buy, an old boat to give some love, expand to potentially working new waters and states in the 2019 season, and more.

Fishing has been fantastic and we are in the BWO hatch now! Fishtober is here, get in on it before over… and I’m outta here.

Tamarack