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My boat

I drive a lot. If you don’t like driving than guiding isn’t for you. It has taken me a few seasons to learn to enjoy the driving. We live in a beautiful place. I just drove to Port Angeles to grab the Hog and its a gorgeous drive…except that whole Tacoma part. Ugh. But I also spent a good chunk of last season driving to the east and south into Idaho and Montana. It’s amazing to see at 55 60 miles an hour towing a boat. I drive slow…I love how speed limits are jist starting off points for everyone to see how fast is too fast. Slow down people…enjoy the drive. You won’t really get there any faster deiving 8 miles an hour faster. Chill.

The upside of all the driving…all the floating. Which is my personal favorite thing about guiding. I love to row. The past few years I have improved those skills quite a bit. I take a lot of pride and work really hard to use the boat as a tool the way I do. I look forward to being in my boat. Over the years I have grown realky attached to my boat. We have seen some shit.

The boat was a big deal. 10 years ago or so…damn I am getting old, I was able to get my Hog. It opened up a whole new world of fishing to me. It wasnt until I finally started guiding full time 6 years ago that I really started to get really into rowing. The past few years I have been in the boat more than not.

My boat gave me a means to funnel my passion into more than just chasing trout for myself. It gave me freedom that I had never really had. With my boat I could fish just about anywhere that had moving water and trout. With my boat I found something I was naturally good at but with practice and time have become pretty darn good at it.

The measure isn’t the kind of class water you have made it through or how many miles or rivers you have rambled; the measure is time and consistency. Lots of time on lots of different flows and levels and you will naturally and intuitively become better at rowing. It becomes a feel thing just like the fly cast. After the basics are learned, experience and practice will continually improve your rowing abilities.

Sure hit some gnarly water, make your butthole pucker up from time to time…its good for you. Flirting with control can be an adrenaline rush and freeing. I have got most of that out of my system these days. Although I do drop into things that take me out of my comfort zone from time to time. Confidence helps but also gets tested constantly. Knowing where that line is comes with experience and troubleshooting, failing and succeeding while learning from it. It can make me come across cocky and head strong at times. But it is earned and it’s not like I don’t get humbled constantly. The trick is to own that shit. Own your successes as much as your failures. They are both required to become good at anything.

No one is magically awesome at this…at least I haven’t met anyone. We all start somewhere, with the cast, the flies, the rowing, and work our way up. The more you practice, the more you fish, the more successes and failings that occur the better you get.

A person who is good on the sticks has a major effect on the day. I have taken trips and floated with others who’s rowing made the trip or day less enjoyable. It makes a difference. On the Yakima for example, slowing down and giving anglers and trout more opportunities to see the fly immediately produced more opportunity for anglers. Those 3 to 6 additonal shots at the drift made a lot of difference. Once I slowed down I realized there were a lot more places and areas to fish. Trout move around a lot, and being able to slow down and pick the water apart from the boat ups your chances at troot swiping your fly. Changing angles with the boat and approaching trout and lies differently, or using the boat to play fish, all these things started to present themselves when I started fishing and rowing the way I do. It continues to evolve and show me new things and ways of moving anglers and boat down the river.

Its a constantly changing and improving process but you reach a level just like with the cast, where things are natural for you. It looks easy to others. That the thing I tell everyone who mentions how easy I make it look…with enough time and practice…thats what happens. You master the skills and it just turns into fishing…or rowing. Not easy by all means…but you reach a point where its like you stepped into the river through a different door. A door that only some have the key for.

Driving along the Yakima yesterday after schlepping back from the OP, I was floating the river in my head. I know the section from Easton to Thorp from memory. Updated every season for new stuff like trees and gravel bars. Like a daydream. It happens a lot until I am just on the river most days. You get attached to things with this life. Attached to the fish, the rivers, the places, people, and the boat. This season I am anxiously waiting for it to start. It’s been a weird and slow off season after a crazy year. It just feels like its time to get back to it and go for a better one this year.

Tamarack

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Ugh…meh…almost but not quite

The boredom has set in. After a few dozen flies each day it starts to get to you. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Its that time of year where I would rather be fishing. Every day I go out makes me want it that much more. The river is calling and I must go.

The drive and desire to be outside, in sync with the river, that sense of adventure is setting in. The flow of the river under me and around me. Its a part of me that has been a struggle in my personal life. But I have embraced it in myself. That connection and dare I say addiction to it, can be hard to explain, hard for others around me to comprehend; but it is a part of me that I am very comfortable with. I check out of the off river life and check in to the riverside. I focus and put my passion into what I love to do. Yes to make me my living but it has become an integral part of what makes me…me.

As I inch closer to the season I get anxious. I am not good at much else besides fly fishing these days. Failed at a lot of things, tried a lot of things, and fly fishing and guiding is the one thing that has stuck for me. I hold onto it very tightly. I was reminded of what I have done and how I do it by the closest of friends today. It made me realize that my hard work has paid off in a lot of ways. And while I may be a shenanigan magnet, I also have become successful enough and failed enough to bounce back and pick myself up quickly, learned a few lessons over the years. Adapt quickly just like the troot I chase.

Things off river have gone through some big changes. So the anticipation of being riverside again is unbearable at times. I miss it. And its been a weird, kinda lonely off season with zero settle in it. So getting back to a rythym I am familiar with, making some money, and doing what I love and what I do best is constantly on my mind. Patience…a skill that is constantly being tested and improved. When all you do is fish, and you don’t do it for a while, you end up not having a whole lot going on until you’re fishing every day. It can make long down times really uncomfortable. I am fortunate that fly tying and generating early season business typically keep things a little busy and everything good. This off season just wasn’t normal so its been wonky. So the anticipation is higher and earlier than usual. I am also just generally stoked. I was really busy last year and every year things get busier and more crazy shit happens so what’s not to look forward to.

Its close. A few weeks and all of the sudden things start to change. 4 to 6 days a week on the river. Getting the body really ready for the season. Getting that feel for the river rythym again. Feeling the weather roll in and shift, how the days warm, that sun charges you. After years of being outside more days than not there is no substitute for some vitamin D via good ‘ol sunshine. But to just feel everything come back to life and wake up each day. It is sorely needed. It helps get me ready for the fun part. The work.

The work starts when the river says so but typically first week or 2 or March. Dialing things in, finding the lines, how the fish are moving, prediction charts, flows, forecasts, water temps, it all starts. Clients show up and things really start rolling. The challenge of it all, the stuff and the things, figuring it out and settling into it for another season. This is the time when I really start looking forward to it all. Sharing the experiences with anglers and going back to that high energy, mind and body working kind of person I love to be.

Every day its closer. Now its just curbing the boredom after the dozens of flies are tied each day until the days are filled with being knee deep in a run, or the feel of the flex on my sticks in the boat against the spring flows, that rod bent on a waking up fish, the flutter of insects along the rivers surface. Closer every day.

See ya riverside on the warm days anglers.

Tamarack

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Spring Clinic March 14th

I will be hosting a Spring Fishing Clinic on Sat. March 14th. I have 6 spots open. $90 per person. Bring your own gear and maybe something to take notes with.

This is a 4 hr instructional clinic on spring fishing tactics and methods, wading techniques, and general spring trout fishing knowledge. great way to knock the dust off, learn the spring season, and how to dry fly, nymph, and streamer fish in the early season on the Yakima River.

Message or call to sign up.

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Transition

During the past two seasons I camped most nights along the river. You start to get on the river rythym. Your internal body clock starts to sync up with a more natural I guess primal timing.

I mix that type of schedule into my guiding it ends up producing some really amazing moments. I fish and guide when trout eat. No 9 to 5 here. In the spring we start late and are chasing that afternoon hoover fest as water temps start to perk up as we move into March and April.

Its still pretty wintery out there anglers. It just snowed a chunk up in the mountains again and more is headed to the higher elevations. But the days are longer and I can already feel the change in the suns position every morning.

The body is already starting to shift. It starts with naturally waking up earlier each day. By mid February I am naturally waking at 7 am, ready to start the fishing by 10. By May its 5:30 am and the late evenings also start where I am off river around dark or 9:30 some nights. By the summer its 4 am and on river by 6 and off by 2. Take a nap, snorkel, fish bass, fish the river in the evenings if water temps are good, but its all about that early morning to 11 am time frame until September. Then it settles back to that 7 am start by 10 off at dusk, until October closes out and hibernation sets in.

I have learned to just let myself flow through the rythym and not fight it. 5 years of working that kind of way becomes habit. But it also triggers the cabin fever really bad. It hasn’t hit feverish levels, that sun pokes out and it gets worse. Even driving by the river makes my body want to be in the boat with the current under me. I saw a boat yesterday while running errands and was super envious.

I have learned how to cope and curb that feeling over the seasons but it lingers heavy in the few weeks leading to things perking up. By mid February its too heavy and I typically find myself yanking my boat over ice berms at take outs because I just can’t help myself. Or launching boats down snow covered hillsides on the Joe in April in ridiculously high flows. That cabin fever makes you get silly if you let it. Its the kind of thing that got me stranded on the wrong side of the river on the Cle Elum one spring, stuff like that and others will learn ya up real quick. Patience. It pays off.

I like to fish when the fish are ready. Its why I will head west for steelhead next week if the rivers simmer down a bit. Its not ready here for trooting. The first two weeks of February have to get here before things percolate in the LC. We still need a good storm or three to fill out our snow pack for the summer. We don’t need a drought this year.

It leaves time to tie. Something I have a lot of time for. I have started tying flies for the guide box. Over the seasons I have the amount and patterns I need down. Its less than you might think. Except pats stones….literally hundreds a season. Its ridiculous. But tying for the hatches and spending more time targeting dry fly and steamer eaters you end up needed a few dozen per hatch. Tying them myself they tend to last longer too. I am also picky with flies these days. I like to use certain things, and not always my own. Like gypsy kings, I will get a lot of those in orange typically when things get busy. I end up adding patterns and taking some out of rotation a lot. But you do settle on some. One of my favorite is the PMX in Royal. Great fly, works for lots of things…a bitch to tie. I like to buy those ones. But starting to fill up my boxes with my flies is always a grest feeling. Its a part of the pre season lead up that I really have come to enjoy.

The few weeks leading up to the early spring fishing gets the brain moving too. You start thinking troot. How the river will change in the high water, new trees down, new gravel bars in the upper, the spring brings all kinds of new things. The wait makes it that much sweeter.

I am especially looking forward to this spring. The fall and late season brought in a lot of really big trout…and they didn’t go anywhere…and they only get bigger over the winter. We have a large population of adult fish that were juvenile during the 2015 drought and made it through hearty. They are going to wake up and be really hangry in a few weeks and it should be absolutely glorious. Streamers anglers….mmm.

So filling up the next few weeks with flies, maybe some steelhead, chasin troot on the warm days, getting the boat out soon, all the stuff and the things that come with the final countdown. Its roughly 60 days until the official first day of spring. But troot wake up a little earlier. 45 days or so. I hate to say it but it has started for me. Just patiently and anxiously waiting.

Tamarack

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Just one.

Lets face it, the winter time isn’t the best time for troot chasing. Trout are lethargic, with low metabolism and are mostly just Netflix and chilling. They eat but its not very much or often. Mostly during the middle of the day. But I went for it today. It was the warmest day we have had in a while.

I would be steelheading…but I need to find an apartment and the pass was kind of crappy this weekend anyway. Plus its wicked busy being a holiday weekend. I have been skiing the past two days and figured my legs could use a break. And I just wanted to catch a troot in all honesty.

I walked up from S. Cle Elum. I was looking for slow at least 6 foot deep water large enough to hold several podded up wintering fish. Those spots can be hard to find in the upper river as the flows this time of season are really low. Working areas like this at various depths with different flies will produce in the winter.

It requires patience and constant presentation throughout the zone. I found a spot upriver of the bridge a ways. A large area of deep water walking speed or slightly faster in places. Larger boulders. An area where a large group of fish would be holding this time of year. I started from the top and worked my way down. Fishing the closest lines first with multiple presentations. Then worked my way out into the middle of the river.

It takes patience…after 3 hours I had a big whitefish for my efforts. I was cold and was near the tailout of the area I was working. That little voice that says, a few more casts…just a few more…just one trout…just one. It wasn’t a whisper in my ear and I kept at it.

Nymphing isn’t my favorite thing as many know, but it works and I do enjoy it at times, especially on my Conti 10ft. 4wt. When my indicator went down I was expecting whitefish.

But cutthroat change direction and shake a very specific way. The instant an angler realizes they have a large trout on is always amazing. My adrenaline flushed and the familiar dance with a wild westslope ensued. When the orange flash of the belly caught my eye my heart fluttered faster. I do love a colored up trout. Winter trout this season are heavy. This trout wanted to run away and bulldog instead of roll which was just fine with me. The moment the tension released and the fish sloshed into the net…missed that feeling.

The orange and red like a blush painted on the underside. The paddle of a tail with peppered spots and that hue of chartreuse. The bronze in the head and jaw and that neon cut along the throat…the metallic magenta in the gill plate. I admire every fish I have the privilege of meeting or introducing. I admired this trout a little longer.

To this day it amazes me, the effect these wild critters have on me. Life has been tumultuous…ya thats a good word for it, recently. I still find that clarity I seek, the time for reflection and looking inwards, and I still feel that sense of awe and wonder at all that surrounds me when I am riverside. My passion for wild fish, angling, and sharing the experience of fly fishing through guiding has only grown.

The spring still feels far off. But the days are longer which is the start of the transition. Soon the late winter snows will fall and subside. The sun will break through as the days warm and the thaw will begin. The days of chasing just one trout will pass. I always enjoy the spring, the river rages, the trout come out of their wintery slumber, the trees green up and grow, the birds chirp and sing, and the bugs start to hatch. The spring brings a cleansing to the river. Flushing the system, recharging it, preparing it for the year to come. Those of us that spend enough time out here know that feeling seeps into you. After this past season and this crazy offseason I welcome that feeling. Back to the river, the work, the feeling of being plugged in. But like the trout in the winter…a little more patience is necessary…soon though…really soon.

Tamarack

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The River Quiets

Its cold. Cold enough my breath plumes with each deep heavy breath. The current tugs at my thighs trying to push me down river. My feet are almost numb, the bite of the rivers’ frigid grasp on my knees.

The sun has tried to break through the high gray cloud cover. The trees have the first hint of new growth on them…aching for the sunlight. As is my body. But my mind welcomes the overcast…the hatch is upon the river. Small blue wing olive mayflies flutter and dance about flirting with flight. The trout just yonder flirting with my heart.

The surface of the water is like glass in the back eddy. A steady spring current brings dainty insects onto the glass. They slow and bounce trying to lift off in the damp afternoon air. It drizzled earlier, my beard still damp. The anticipation builds, my feet slowly move through the heavy cross current, the gravel and rocks click and clock under my felt.

My arm twitches as I postion myself slightly down river of the glass. I watch patiently. The hatch has just begun and the trout holding just up river has only come up once. But once was enough to ignite the drive. I watch, the cold biting the current pulling.

A Rise

My heart quickens. The cold no longer has the sting, adrenaline starts to trickle in.

Another Rise

I pull my line from the reel quietly, my fingers cold as water spurts from the unrolling line. I wait. Enough line measure out flowing in a large green loop in the current below me.

A Dimple

My fly is dressed. The size 18 mayfly imitation between my fingers. Flossed to my fly rod with hair thin line. I will wait…

The river quiets. I watch.

A Rise

Cast. Drift….

….

The fly passes over the glass.

A Rise

Cast. Drift…

A Rise…

The fly disappears under a small nose. The rod lifts and bends.

The Shake and Roll

The trout moves deeper and into faster water. Pulling.

Counter

I lead and the trout follows. The distance betwwen us closes. The heart races, the breath quickens.

Lift

I hold my breath as my net breaks the water. The tension ceases and the dance is finished.

The trout has spots as big as my thumb on the tail. A deep shade of pink from gill plate to back. The cold water on my hand, the trout sliding away back to the glass.

Another Rise just Yonder.

Tamarack

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Handtied

Many know that my introduction to fly fishing was through fly tying. I bought a vise and tying kit before a fly rod and reel. I was into making my own bass lures at the time for gear and the fly tying aspect and how it mimicked real insects really struck my fancy.

I tied crude flies and soaked in as much info as I could. I read all sorts of books. This was before youtube and social media was big and embraced by the industry. LaFontaine, Schweibert, streamside bug guides, hatch charts, fly patterns, what materials were used for what, I fell in love with it all reading and tying.

I started taking classes, worked for a shop, studied with a teacher regularly and learned a lot. Started teaching classes. Tied thousands of flies. Got pretty good and fast at it. Then I started creating my own, playing with different materials, and widdling down patterns to the few things trout really need to be tricked by a fly. That tried and true, size, silhouette, and color, in the order. Really researching and reading about howna trout sees its food in the natural world and developing and changing patterns to better represent that. After a while you settle into a kind of style for your flies. They end up having a look. Its pretty neat as a tyer, to have people recognize my flies in anglers boxes.

Tying flies is also a way for me to stay busy, make a little money, and tie flies for guiding offering my clients a unique addition to the trip.

There are days it feels like a chore. I have Pat Stones to tie for the guide season. Gonna see if we can squeak through the spring with 6 to 9 dozen. With 4 legs because fish cannot count. But most days its a few hours and a few dozen flies while listening to tunes. I enjoy it and it starts building the stoke for the season.

Coming up its nymphing, streamers, midges, and BWO’s. The snow hasn’t stopped falling for 2 days now and its stacking up nicely for our snowpack. 45 days or so and things will start to percolate and get a little fishy. Tying in anticipation for the season and the spring fly patterns are a lot of fun. Besides the pat stones of course.

So if you are a fellow fly tyer I wish you good proportions and thread that doesn’t snap. If you like to use handtied guide flies you know where to get ’em.

See ya riveraide soon anglers.

Tamarack

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Things Learned

Fly fishing teaches the angler. Over my tenure I have learned so much about angling, people, fish, the environment, business, and life.

Life lessons. Whether its through sports or being raised through childhood we are always learning lessons that can be applied to lives we choose to live.

Best word to describe life…tumultuous. I rely on lessons from fly fishing in most things in life. Mostly because my life is mostly filled with fishing. There are always consequences for actions and decisions. As in fishing so to in life. Sometimes you are rewarded other times knocked down and humbled.

Personally I am being humbled. I am searching to be humbled in angling. I am relying on those things I have learned and developed in angling to get me through and so far it has been positive.

Patience has been the utmost lesson and learned skill from angling. There are times it can bring you to amazing moments in angling. Other times it can lead to a missed opportunity, a close encounter, or no encounters at all. Patience doesn’t always win the day and some days it can be the negative factor. Too much time, not enough time, its all about time and how it is managed. A skill that needs improvement in my off river life.

Determination, angling has taught me to seek out and learn the necessary skills to reach goals. Angling has taught me how to have passion and drive for something. Transfering that passion and drive to things outside of fishing is always an ongoing process but one that improves over time.

Failure. I have learned to meet failure head on in my life before fishing and that has helped me become a better angler. Failure is one of the more important teachers. Fish and life do not always give you another shot, or sometimes it gives you a few, failing is part of growing as an angler and a person. Owning ones failures, moving past them, and learning from them are lessons that are paramount in all things.

Reflection. Taking the time to reflect, be more observant of the world around and within are key in developing as an angler and as a person. When things are bad or good reflecting on the how and the why and critically thinking are necessary for growth.

As the new year comes in and the trout season gets closer everyday; taking the time to look back is important. To move forward both on and off river revisiting the lessons learned is how I prep for what is next.

See ya riverside anglers

Tamarack

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Beginner Fly Tying Class

I have 4 spots open for my 3 hour introduction to fly tying. We start with the basics, learn the techniques needed to get started, and learn the first few basic patterns and how to tie them.

Participants need their own vise and basic tools, scissors, bobbin, etc. Materials will be provided. It is $120.00 per participant.

Please reserve your spot. Contact me with any questions. I will be putting more of these up.

Call, email, or visit the link below for more into.

https://facebook.com/events/s/beginner-fly-tying-class/1028945237459598/?ti=as

Tamarack