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Campfire Thoughts

I’ve gotten lost in rivers…but none so much as the Yakima. I’ve fished it regularly my whole career, it holds my first trout, it holds my largest of both species still to this day.

It’s my homewater, I’ve learned it intimately. Every guide day on it and every angler I meet along it that wants a chat…reminds me that I know her well…better than some.

The days blur, I told my client today, the summer is a consistent chaos of things happening in the trout world. Consistent…but chaotic. Multiple bugs hatching, water temps in prime zones for peak trout activity. The fish are moving about, feeding, resting, podding up, reacting to their environment and an adept angler…can find themselves lost in trout.

I find myself there. Fishing, watching, learning, deciphering, plugging in and enjoying the ride. The rest of the world has faded away, even my wife reminded me that there is more than trout and rivers and that I can talk to people and be social. The calendar fills, and I’ve settled into my rhythm, and each day of angling runs into the next.

The rest of the world has little interest to me, the world here in front of me is so much more interesting and I can’t help but feel this is where I belong. It’s where I know I want to be, maybe even need to be at times…but there are times…when that fish eats, that client smiles, that otter eating that huge fing troot the other day…those times and so many others…they make me feel like I belong here. Was made to be there in those moments…sharing them with others…baring witness, a part of the experience…one that many in my position can take for granted…those moments…always humble me, remind me of the true importance of them…reminds me of what I really do for a living…all of it.

The campfire weakens, a pine cone falls from the tree top and spooks my attention. The soft hiss and rumble of the Cle Elum River just over the bank a stones throw from where I sleep. I woke up to elk this morning, the sounds of kingfisher fluttering and calling along the river edge, a raven cawls deeply to his brethren, the smell of cotton wood and sweet ponderosa pine wafts in the warm air. My cloths and beard smell of campfire, my hands are tan, as well as my knee caps, feet tops, and face, I’ve spent more time outside now than I did at home for this past break. I’m on river time, which doesn’t line up well with the ‘normal’ day to day of most. It is a great joy of this gig to be able to help people fit into that consistent chaos for a few fours with a few casts of the fly rod and a boat ride…

See ya riverside anglers.

Tamarack

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Open Weekends in May

Hey Anglers!

Only weekend days I have open in May.

May 5th
May 19th
May 26th

I have plenty of weekdays open but for anglers who can only take a trip on the weekends this is what I got.

We have Caddis and Salmon Flies in May, warm weather, wet wading, riverside lunches and troots on flies.

See ya out there.

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Back to it.

I’m back riverside Friday. I’ve enjoyed being at home but I’m anxious to get back to the river. I hear of March Browns and Salmon Flies and all other thoughts kind of leave me. It has been great seeing my family. I’m kind of the outsider to my families routine during the season. My internal clock is not aligned with the hustle and bustle of kids to school, lady to work, lunch for the little one, kids home, homework, soccer practice, dinner, rinse repeat. My wife knows I’m just not built for that life, neither of us are. My lady and I have always had a ‘non traditional’ way of parenting and general lifestyle. It doesn’t always mesh well with others and to this day people in our orbit still don’t grasp what I do for a liv no and the kind of life both Hannah and I are trying to create for ourselves and our children. The life you want takes work, patience, and time…Hannah and I hav never settled for the life we get…we chase the one we want.

That life involves a lot of fishing. For us it’s our way of life, how we pay the bills, feed the kids, fix the car, all that shit..paid for by running trips down the river. It’s a sweet rewarding, fulfilling life, with its hardships but hat life is worth a damn if it doesn’t have struggle. Struggle is what makes life interesting. After a while, you realize anything can be faced with your loved ones supporting you and standing by you no matter the doubters, haters, and naysayers.

I fish a lot. Some 150-250 days a year. I hope most of those are guide days but you get what the river gives you. You change as a person when you spend that much time outside. To the point where others around you notice things. Like how I hate being inside…I’d rather sit outside and listen to the world. I’m not antisocial, well that that much, I just don’t like 4 walls. Inside is noisy, tv, phones, kitchen, people, just lots of things making background noise that drown out the world around you. People notice how all I talk about is fishing, but it’s also all I think about during the season. While most people leave work at work, owning a business and all that comes with it means it’s a constant thing. I’m always buried in my phone or device. I’m usually working, looking at insights, checking feeds, river reports, answering emails, blogging, editing, planning, all that shit.

People notice how I just check out. I’m pretty aloof when I’m not riverside, I just don’t have a lot of interest in things other than fishing. But I like it that way and I also get paid to be that way. Part of being that ‘professional’ angler I guess. Not many professions allow you to completely get lost in your work and come out the other side better at said work without all that stress and bs that comes with it. There’s a reason people are envious of the guide life. I always was. And getting back to it is all I’ve had on my mind since taking this little break. It’s nice out, the snow is melted, the weather warms, the bugs hatch, troots eat, what else is there I ask!?

So now it’s time to prep the rig and gear, say my goodbyes again, and head back to the river to chase fish and introduce clients to the riverside way of life. This season is gonna be good. Hope too see ya out there.

Tamarack

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The Peak

Its looming. Which makes it out to be a negative thing but it is far from it. The Peak of the season that is. It typically hits sometime in mid June to mid July. When I hit about 70-85 trips. It’s that point where you’re in the grind. When a lot of guides will take a break and I want the work piled on heavy.

The past 4 seasons I’ve had the pleasure of guiding the Yakima exclusively. And when the peak hits is also when the summer fishing is at its finest. Golden stones, yellow sallies, pmds, caddis, terrestrial, streamers, nymphing…if you’re into it, but the Yakima in the summer is some wicked awesome dry fly fishing in the upper.

Unlike my new water on the St. Joe which is a freestone and gets smaller throughout the summer. The Yakima gets big, even on a drought year like this year, the Yakima River will be 3-4 times her normal size. Swollen with irrigstion water growing all manner of things in the valleys below. I am still in awe of the power the small Yakima river has when it wears its tailwater outfit for the summer.

It makes for a unique fishery. Tough but unique and rewarding to the patient and determine angler. The water in the summer is high, typically 3-4000 cfs. I like it when it settles around 3200-3600 cfs in the upper. The fish get forced into the banks of the river. They search out food, cover, and oxygen, in the 6-12 feet of river along each bank. Under overhangs, in cutbanks, around and amongst boulders, eddies, and as tight as possible to the edge of the river a lot of time.

The angler needs a boat to fish it properly. Set up around 20-25 feet off the bank. Shooting at 90 and 45 degrees towards the bank picking apart the micro currents and structure with a dry or dry dropper set up. The upper river in the summer, will produce 30-60 fish 8hr plus days. Mostly dries. It’s about the only time of year it happens for me. We get close in the fall but we rarely break 30, but the fish are larger in the fall. Less of them but larger.

The trout in the summer are all sizes. We get the big ones, but they are at select times of day unless you get that one eager, slightly dumb, big boy to eat randomly. But the majority of the trout caught are your juvenile trout. The cookie cutters as we like to call them. The 8-14 inchers. They ain’t big, but they are wicked fun when they eat dries. Some get really colorful and bright in the summer. When you fight them in heavy flows, with 3-4X tippet, on lighter action or softer action dry fly rods it makes for a lot of fun without overly stressing the fish.

The big fish, they usually eat for about 15-30 minutes early in the morning typically just before and through dawn, and again at the end of the day for 15-30 minutes as dusk settles in. Caddis…or stones typically. As the summer gets into August the fishing is best early am and things tend to get a little too hot, water temp wise in the afternoon. Plus the biggest trout in the river eat summer stones from 4-6:30am in August. They get on a nocturnal feeding cycle with the summer stone hatch happening in the evening early morning. So if you hit the river early you get those big trout filling thier bellies before going down for the day.

The Peak of the season is where I love being as a guide. When you’re just grinding. Wake up, coffee, clients, boat launch, shuttle, teach, guide, lunch, teach guide, land fish, boat on trailer, drop off clients, eat, sleep, repeat…for as many days as the river will give me. I’ll take ’em all. I’ll run two trips a day when I can. And now with two rivers its twice as much fun.

That Peak is something I crave, working 10-15-25 days in a row. Sharing it with all those clients, the adrenaline high constant, no down time, just guiding…mmmm…that shit is my jam and when I feel most groovy. Just in tune, synced up, and dialing anglers in two at a time for days.

That’s what’s coming my way…being on a 10 day rest and visit before getting into it is much needed and appreciated. My focus tends to get lost in the river when things ramp up.

I’ll be back at it soon. Can’t fing wait.

See ya riverside,

Tamarack

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Focus

This gig can get a little distracting. Not the fishing…but the bullshit…and I’ll be the first to admit that I succumb to drama from time to time. A little confrontation means you’re doing something right. Its competition, and when you’re doing a good job there is gonna be drama that follows. The trick is to stay above it. Just do you and let others be asshats. Stand your ground, make your point professionally, and move on down river. I never engage riverside, I just pull over and let the drama pass me by. I’ll talk and blog about the things that come my way, make my opinion known, and move on. I’m in this gig to share fly fishing with anglers and enjoy wild places and the fish that live in them.

I just dont have time to get into Twitter spats and messenger and PM arguments. Thanks for the comment and the input, I’ll take it into consideration, and move on. I never engage in drama riverside. Theres no place for it, I follow standard river ethics and just run my boat.

Focus, on the task at hand, not being the best, the busiest, the loudest, catch the most fish, nope…none of that…all I’m after is doing my best each guide day so that my clients have the best possible experience riverside. No matter what the day throws at us.

So to those that have commented, said things, and all that drama that seems to seep out of the guide community on my homewater….you keep doing you, I’ll do me and we can just leave it at that. I’ve got more important things to focus on…like clients and reading water, and tricking trout. This gig is all about that and that’s where my attention will focus. Taking some time off makes that more apparent.

So I’ll make my posts, take my photos, blog my thoughts, show my clients super awesome times, catch a few fish, and live that river life. It’s been working just fine the past 4 seasons, and at some point you just have to focus on the river, fish, and clients, and let haters hate and move on down to the next bend.

Tamarack

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Rest, reflection, down time.

So I’m here at home with my family for 10 days. It’s been 53 days since I’ve seen any of them. Which was a long time, longest I’ve been away from them. So that had its ups and downs. Luckily I have trout to occupy the mind.

After spending almost the entire 53 days outside a few things come to mind being back at home. First, the quiet…I miss it. So many evenings and days where there is nothing but the sounds of river life around you. Here at home the sounds of cars and trucks driving by, sirens, people; things I forget about when riverside. Sleeping…sleeping indoors sucks. After so much time sleeping outside, in the cool air, the quiet, and let’s face it my roof top tent is wicked comfortable…I don’t sleep so well inside 4 traditional walls. I find myself restless, but that’s also because I’ve been active and doing something physical and mentally straining each day. Now I’m sedentary and my body and mind doesn’t like it. Even my lady notices it. I’m aloof, slightly out of place here because my mind and body are elsewhere. They are still on the Yak and Joe.

I missed the sound of my children so much. My boisterous eldest, my shrieking son, and my giggly youngest. I’ll tell you watching my 5 year old blow bubbles for two hours yesterday was some of the best two hours I’ve ever had. My children are happy, and that’s all the reassurance I need as a father. Yes we miss each other, but they see me happy doing what I love. Even though they are young, learning the life lesson of doing what makes you happy and finding a good balance with family, yourself, and work is one of the most important.

I missed my lady. The sounds of her snoring next to me are about the only comfort I have sleeping inside. Her smile warms me more than the morning sun after a frigid night. Putting my hands on her skin is better than being fireside. Time away makes you appreciate and notice all the things…all the things. Still to this day I can’t believe the women who chose me and is my partner in this life. She is the best woman I know and really…she gets me…the trout, the guiding, the solo time, the addiction to the outdoors and tricking fish with flies and how it completely involves me…she gets me.

I do feel that anxiousness of wanting to get back. Feel like I’m missing out. And I am, but it is a worthwhile respite from the river before things really ramp up for the season. My family won’t want me to leave, but I’ll be torn between the two…and I usually find myself knee deep in a river eventually anyway.

I do dig the indoor showers though, while I don’t mind pooping in the woods as I have vast experience in back country poops, the outdoor showers aren’t the greatest in the early season. Bit chilly. However I do feel slightly claustrophobic inside, especially a small bathroom…one of those weird things you notice after being outside a lot.

The spring was fun, always want more trips and more fish but you get what the river gives you and you make it work. Exploring new waters, ruffling some feathers, getting a new guide gig on a new river in a new state, that shit was dope and I’m super stoked. The Yak, like she always is, predictably inconsistent, with ridiculously persnickety trout. Challenging and rewarding wrapped up with a big bow of frustration…mmmm…I do love the Yakima River. I really can’t wait to get back.

Summer trips are already starting to book up on both rivers. Plus bass fishing will ramp up, it’s just gonna be a good season of chasin fish no matter where I’m at. Come get some…

Tamarack

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Its good!

Hey anglers I have Wednesday and Thursday still open this week and the weather is amazing with sunshine and 60 plus degrees and the fish are eating skwallas and the March Browns which are coming off strong in the upper.

My last two open days for Spring Special Pricing at $385 for two anglers and a lunch.

I’ll be back May 3rd for the start of summer and the caddis hatch!

Reserve today. !

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The Spring

The spring is always a crapshoot when it comes to fishing. It’s all about consistency with fly fishing and the spring is anything but. It can reward those who put in the work and have the patience but it can also hand your ass to you all day.

We have the winds now. I’ve got the tent buttoned down so I dont blow away tonight. The weather can never seem to make up its mind this time of year. Its supposed to snow tonight.

Fishing in the spring can be misery filled, but it can also introduce the adventurous and determined angler to some amazing trout.

Big fish eat in the spring. The water is also wicked cold, and trout, especially of the rainbow variety, fight very hard in the spring. They play for keeps out here on the Yak.

There is a lot about the spring I love. The cooler weather and mayfly fishing. The rain, when it’s not incessant. The showers perk up the trout and the bugs. The trees are budding, the scent of pine is carried on the breeze. The river is emerald, the fish colored up like neon signs. The deer and elk are frequent, as are the eagles, geese and ducks. The swallows are here, skating and dancing along the river surface.

The days are slower, the starts later, river time is leisure in the spring. The campfires are warm and much appreciated on the damp cold nights. The waders have that well worn smell, I’ve fished for almost 6 weeks straight. Only a handful of days where I didn’t have a rod in my hand or my oars fanning the current off the boat.

I miss my family though. I am looking forward to some time off with them. However I am eager to get going on this summer season. I crave the blur of just days of guiding and fishing, only thing separating them are the people and the two rivers I get to share with them this year.

I have one week left here for the spring on the Yak before heading home until May. Come share it with me on a guided trip and see for yourself. Maybe catch a big trout. Definitely have a wicked awesome time.

Tamarack

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St. Joe Day 5 and final thoughts.

I’m left wanting more. A feeling that has been subdued by years on the Yakima River. The opportunity to spend 5 days of fishing and floating was a treat itself but being able to guide it; that still makes me smile ear to ear. Especially after seeing the river, meeting its fish, some of the people who call it home, and a few of the anglers that frequent its banks.

I felt more welcomed than ever on the St. Joe, not only did the river make me want to come back for years but so did the people. Heartfelt, warm, people who were more interested in the loud colorful bearded individual that invaded thier river with his big beard, big boat, and big loud voice echoing down the water. People were eager to hear my feelings on the river, my story, what brought me here. And I the same to them. This life inteoduces you to so many different types of people but we all share that love of moving water and wild and natural places.

The fishing on day 5 was superb as well. With some funkiness we decided to see if fish would come up for skwallas in the skwalla dry water. They did and I have never seen so many quality, healthy, absolutley gorgeous westlope cutthroat in a single day of chucking dries. The river is simply amazing. It enco is passes every facet of the word.

I am so fortunate to be part of the crew at Whitepine Outfitters and have this lifetime of an opportunity to guide the pristine, wild, freestone, St. Joe River in Northern Idaho.

I cant wait to get started and enjoy and share the river with others. I am so stoked to be guiding two amazing rivers that will give anglers to incredible fly fishing experiences.

See you riverside…on the Joe or the Yak.

Tamarack