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The Job

So we are roughly halfway through the season. I’ve put somewhere around 60 trips and over 100 days riverside. I really won’t know the actual numbers until I do taxes. I have been in that sweet guide grind for a bit now. 4-6 days a week, familiar faces, lots of new ones, and a few trips on the new guide waters in Idaho.

I’ve been live streaming, tying, chasin trout, and chatting fish, rivers, and all the things and stuff that come along with this gig. This blog is just kind of a list of thoughts I’ve had over the past few weeks. Lots of time to contemplate when driving and rowing all the time.

First thing…live streams and the places I say I’m fishing aren’t secrets. I’m purposely saying where I’m at because people want to know where they can float and wade safely and without being on private property. They also want to know because so many times anglers just dont know where to go and what to look for. It seems selfish to keep that stuff to myself. Every angler has the right to enjoy the public access and lands we have. They belong to no one…they are for everyone. Now anglers should always have respect and fish ethically but I cant make anglers that visit these places do that. I can educate anglers but at the end of the day its about what kind of angler you are or want to be.

Let’s talk about the spawning fish I found yesterday that could be steelhead. So I live streamed some fish I found near three bridges on the upper yak. At first I fished for them because i just saw a fish. But when I saw the pairs of them I pulled my fly out and watched.

First off spawning fish are amazing to watch. And everyone knows you shouldn’t fish them. In my younger days I didnt know any better and I did fish them. But education and developing into a better angler changed that. I was contacted by an individual who told me people went in to that area and may or may not have been targeting those fish.

That’s illegal first, if they are steelhead, which they potentially are spawning this late. So enforcement should always be called in those situations. Always. Whether it’s a guide or not. I call in at least a dozen illegal activities happening on this river a year. Some of them have even been people I would consider friends.

Second. I cant change that kind of angler. The kind of angler that knows and watches for those spawners and targets them is gonna do that no matter what. A ticket is the only thing that’s gonna work in that situation and a poacher is gonna a poach even after the ticket in most cases.

So…be ethical. Be respectful, and when someone like myself goes out of thier way to help others dont bastardized it by being a dick angler.

Moving on, social media. So I’ve gotten some shit this year for my posts and my tell all approach. But when I get those comments I remind myself that I am really busy with trips so I’m doing something right. I’ve gotten to a point where I’m just gonna leave it at that. It works for my business model and has kept me in 100-150 Yakima trips for 5 seasons now.

People. I meet a lot of people. Lots on trips, riverside, and the always curious fellow camper or angler that wanders into my camp with questions. I love watching it. They keep looking over, seeing the rig, the tent, the boat, all the stickers, the beard, and they slowly work their way over and usually ask one of three things.

You a guide?

Hows the fishing?

That’s a cool boat/tent thingy.

It’s great. Dont feel like you’re going to bother me. If I don’t want to be around people you wouldn’t find me. I still know a few secret spots I keep to myself. But part of this gig is people and I cannot tell you how many clients I get from just being riverside everyday. That face to face with people is still the best way to do business and I do business on the river. So many times a person I helped, or gave advice, or handed some flies, or just ran into has turned into a client. Too many guides miss out on those kinds of clients because they arent out fishing.

Those people are usually two types. Very experienced, and not at all. The expeirmced guys book less but I run into more frequently. They fish a lot, know thier stuff, and always like to hear a good story and share a few. The others are the newbies, typically just trying to figure it out, maybe haven’t even been in a shop yet because they are intimidated. Which sucks…if you’re local shops are intimidating or not helping then find new ones. It’s still to common in this industry especially to female and younger anglers.

The newbies are great, they are sponges, they take flies readily, and they listen intently. I usually hear of thier success later at camp or they find me on social media. I never go out of my way for those encounters. They just happen. They tend to turn into clients at some point. It’s one of my favorites ways to meet fellow anglers. Just be riverside.

The stuff and things. I have a lot of stuff and things to share, and I’m constantly learning and incorporating more. What the hell am I gonna do with it all. My kids arent as interested yet and may never be. I fish on my own and it’s just fishing to me. I can figure out the puzzle and find success with trout and most other species around. So what would I do, just keep getting better and better myself? For what? I’m not competitive at least not with people, only trout. I am not in this for followers or to be famous, to be the best caster or guide or trouty person, I’m not in this for anything but the pure act of fishing. But I gotta make a living. I’m not the guide who is an ambassador to a bunch of companies, my gear is worn, tattered, and well used. My boat is old. And it shows. Even my own body and how I present myself doesnt always mesh with your typical guide. This is about the experience, the life, and making money at it is part of it. The trick is to love what you do and make it fun for clients but also yourself. I’m all about sharing that experience, it does something to you. Of all the ways to enjoy the natural world, fly fishing just has something more to it. That’s what it’s all about.

I am constantly reminded by clients, anglers, and people I meet that I have a unique approach and do things unlike many others. I dont know how to do it any other way. Guiding to me is what I do, I never had some standard to work off of really. And over the years my ways of doing things has evolved into more my own thing than I ever realized it would be. With the St. Joe added to the roster and getting a whole new slew of clients and anglers as well as a totally different type of guiding experience for me the fact of that uniqueness has become more apparent to me.

I’m gonna keep doing me I guess. Seems to work and now that we are really in the peak of it and July is over half booked…I’m gonna keep on ramblin doen the road and the rivers anglers. See ya riverside.

Tamarack

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4th of July Special

Hey Anglers!

The 4th of July weekend is coming up!

I’m offering half day floats for $280.00 for 2 anglers.

Anglers have the option of morning or evening floats.

Come out to the Yakima River and get in on the summer fishing before it fills up and gets too hot! Morning and evening start times means we miss all the floater, tuber, and rafting traffic and fish the river when conditions are best for troots.

We have goldens, yellow sallies, pmds, drakes, and the flows are up! Trout are hungry and the summer fishing is here.

Call, email, messages or tell at me riverside to reserve a 4th of July Weekemd fishing trip.

I have the 4th through the 7th still open and its the only weekend left open on July! I’ll be on the St. Joe for most of August so get in on the Yakima Trips while I’m still here!

$280 plus tax for 2 anglers half day floats, morning and evening. 4th-7th open!

Tamarack

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The St. Joe

The St. Joe River in North Idaho from a Yakima River Guide’s Perspective.

Well…if you know me…let’s start this off right. Holy Fuck!

I have the amazing opportunity to guide one of the most awesome rivers I’ve ever had the pleasure of fishing. Guiding it for the first day was something I have looked forward to since this off season. More than that, since I’ve started fly fishing, and guiding, that need for adventure, a challenge, pitting my skills against a new river, countering different trout, a new puzzle…its something I am always chasing.

The St. Joe is one of the best rivers I’ve ever fished and guiding it was exhausting…in the best way possible.

Fish right from the get go. I was on a double boater with a family, father and sons. I had two sons and the other guide and dad and son. When we arrived that morning I think our first impression with the clients was unexpected. Here are two rather trout bummy dudes who look like they’ve been camping and fishing for a week. Yes I’m super beardy, and I’m not in the latest waders and boots, hell I’m in board shorts and a t shirt with a sweaty old flat brim hat filled with flies that isn’t even a fishing endorsed hat. I know that I may not look the part of a fly fishing guide to some.

So that initial impression had us a little on edge. But, once you get people like us on the river…it all changes. You’re not looking at the guide all day.

The other boat was into fish at the put in. The put in was a fun one. So I pushed down river and looked for some proper nymphy water. Wasnt hard. Around the next bend within 15 minutes of starting and boom, big ass trout on then off. Woo. We pulled over, and nymphed on foot. Missed another one. Feeling the pressure of not having landed one yet with that friendly guide competition brewing I had the clients switch to streamers.

For two reasons…its wicked fun for clients when a fish takes a streamer. And because as a guide, a streamer eat makes the trout do the hard part and the angler just has to hang on, listen, and land the fish. It takes a lot of the intricate work out of the process and gets clients on a fish quickly to help kickstart the energy level and focus for the day. It was needed as it was early and everyone knew it was my first day. I read a sweet run below a 90 degree turn that had a rapid, big boulders and a deep water tail out with a gravel bar on the inside that created a shelf where a large trout could lie in wait for prey. 20 swings layer…and the client is yelling “I got one!”

The chaos begins, walk up the bank, tip up, let ’em run, strip strip strip, hold ’em, walk back, pull up, reel reel reel, and in the net! Awww ya.

“Holy shit you weren’t lying Nate, he tried to take the rod from me!” Mmmmm. The energy between the two clients climaxed post release when they started chatting and breaking down how the fish hit and fought between themselves as I chuckled to myself listening. Boom.

The St. Joe is beautiful and at 2400 cfs and gin clear…you see everything. So many fish. There are areas where laps can be run by back rowing up and running multiple drift lines, with fish hooked in every pass. Was doubled up two times during the day. At lunch the boat had already landed over a dozen and missed that many plus. By the end of the day it was 2 dozen landed and that many plus missed. As many as you can catch.

I would run a lap at one depth, land or miss fish. Change depths, back row, pick another lane, run it, miss and land more. Multiple times. As a guide I wanted to keep doing it just to see how many times it would produce. Clients were getting a kick out of it.

The trip turned into a blur of trout. Trout missed, trout landed, trout talked about. One of the troutiest days I have ever had guiding.

Crazy thing about the Joe. We nymphed all day. Fish just weren’t interested in dries on our section. But 10 river miles down the other two boats we had out fished dries all day and had almost identical days fish wise. Mmmm. The Joe changes a lot, but westslope cutthroat make it an easier fishery as they are a more eager species. The puzzle of the Joe is one I am also eager to put together.

I haven’t had to guide, read water, and put anglers on fish cold like that. Haven’t floated it, haven’t fished it, haven’t read it…having to do it live was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had guiding. Especially when it just keeps working all day. The Yakima I can fish from memory. I know every inch of it. The Joe is new and intoxicating because of that.

Deciphering, interpreting, and discovering a new fishery via guiding is pretty fucken rad.

I’ll be back up there Tueaday to take my lady on a float and to spend some more time learning the water.

I plan on being on the St. Joe all of August as the Yakina will be in full drought mode at that time. I invite you all to come experience the St. Joe this year with White Pine Outfitter and myself. It’s one of those places you’ll never forget and always want to keep coming back to. It’s one of those perfect yearly trip kinda places. Two three days, take a trip one day, fish it on foot the others, explore the local area, visit the local businesses, soak up some of that rugged north Idaho culture and take in one of the most pristine, wild, and scenic rivers I’ve ever fished.

Ya buddy.

Tamarack.

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Open Dates for the Yak and Joe!

I leave for the St. Joe River in Idaho on June 20th through the 26th. So if you’d like to reserve a day on the St. Joe make sure you get a hold of me so I can put you in contact with my outfitter.

Until I leave I have a few days left open on the Yak.

June 14th 16th 18th and 19th on the Yakima are open.

If you’d life to reserve a day on the Yak before I’m outta town for 6 days fishing and guiding some new water let me know.

Bugs are hatching, fishing is starting to settle back after the flows bump, the sunshine is here, come get in on the early summer action before it’s too hot!

And the St. Joe is just starting its Salmon Flies and the flows are settling and its starting to fish really well from what I’m told. I’ll have reports for both places and information as we keep rambling and rolling riverside this season.

How to see ya out there anglers.

Tamarack

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That Fish

So I’ve caught a lot if fish…damn nese every freshwater species you can around here and a handful of salt water too. From Alaska to Oregon, to Montana, through to Colorado, and back up through Utah and Idaho. Even parts of Canada. From bull trout, rainbow, cutty, brown, steelhead, to coho, sockeye, rockfish, hell its easier to list the ones I haven’t caught. Like sturgeon, it a grayling, or golden trout.

But no matter where, what species, or which fly…there is always..That Fish.

These days I typically go for that one fish. On my days off I will fish and prospect, try new flies and search out and read new water to prep for clients. But as an angler…I am always on the hunt for…That Fish.

Every angler has one. It changes from day to day, outing to outing, season to season, sometimes it’s a certain spot that always holds a large fish. A place that an angler seeks redemption from a precious ass handling encounter. Or sometimes it’s a certain cast, or drift, presentation that perplexes the angler. It may not produce the biggest fish, but it’s not always about that. Sometimes it’s about testing an angkers skill and seeing if you can level up a bit.

Other times…and in most cases for me…its a fish I see during the day. Since I fish almost every day whether guiding or personally, I can’t get stuck on one spot or one fish…I’d never move as I find and see fish that strike my fancy constantly. As a guide I also get the added awesomeness of sometimes having That Fish be a clients and that’s a special thing itself.

But I typically find The Fish while riverside. I’m a very visual person and I enjoy observing the river. You learn so much by just watching, listening…intaking and processing. You start to see me more. These days not much gets by me riverside. And when I see That Fish…I tend to tunnel vision in on it. No matter the method of tricking with a fly. Mostly a dry. But at times I have been known to target nymph and streamer eaters for That Fish.

Most times it’s not the biggest fish for me…but it tends to be the most difficult to present a fly too. Could be a very technical cast, a specific drift or mend required, or something along those lines. Usually it involves a hard play after the eat…upping the difficulty with having to contest with a trout where it has more advantage. It’s a game that I like to play a lot and it’s one that I find myself on advanced levels. It’s not that other fish don’t interest me…but I like a challenge both personally and professionally. Let me tell you; the success of putting a client on That Fish is usually an intense and incredibly amazing experience both for the client and the guide. The kind of fish and moments that just light people up.

These days I have this drive to seek out more of these fish that challenge me. Watching them, learning from them, it’s what I chase these days…what else can I unlock from That Fish? What secrets does it hold? What more does the tiger have to tell and teach? It’s my lifes pursuit. It is my passion. Because every time I find another one of these fish…I learn so much more, become that much more connected, feel that something we all seek all the more…there is more to learn, to seek out, to protect, preserve, and share.

Ya…that is what…That Fish is for me these days….what is yours?

Go seek it out riverside anglers.

Tamarack

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Get a F’ing Net

So I’m a pretty chill dude. Meaning it takes a lot to make me mad. Especially when it comes to the river. But there is this one thing…this one thing that I absolutely cannot stand. It’s the only thing that may make me yell at you across the river and maybe even come up and confront you about it….

Not having a net.

It drives me fucking bonkers when I see anglers without a net. Here is why:

1. Its freaking disrespectful to the fish. You’re gonna come into its house, hook it in the face with a sharp pointy thing, fight and mess with the fish, and you dont even have the decent to land it with a net properly? WTF. You went in and bought that nice rod, those fancy waders, a sweet fishing pack, but you didn’t think to spend a little money on a net? Its selfish and disrespectful. Period. Buy a net.

2. There is zero excuse to not have a net. There are literally hundreds of types ranging from a whopping $8 bucks to hundreds of dollars for fancy ones. Shit you can get one at the local hardware store for less then $15 bucks.

3. All these photos of fish, all this fancy gear on Instagram feeds…and anglers still leave the house and walk or row the river without a net. How are you handling those fish without a net? I’ll tell ya how because I see it all the time. Most angler drag the fish onto the bank. So not only are we hooking them I the face we are gonna let them flail around on rocks and earth whacking their head and internal organs all over the riverside. Come on! Get a net. The other thing I see is anglers over playing a fish for too long because they are unable to land the fish effectively without a proper net.

4. When you use a net you give the fish the least invasive and safest introduction to the angler whether a friend, client, or yourself. With a net you can admire the fish, enjoy it a few moments longer without causing unnecessary stress. You can share a moment with a fish while letting both of you recover from the encounter. The fish can calmly revive itself whole being held in the water with a net. The trout can return to being a trout quicker and with less damage and impact to it so that another angler can share that moment and that fish can go on to produce more fish. Get a net.

5. Finally, anglers that use a net have learned respect for the fish, it also makes you looknrrally cool fully extended netting your own fish. All that fancy gear and a wicked nice net…ya now you’re doing it right.

Get a net, if you walk outta the fly shop without a net and hit the river you’re not only disrespecting the river and the trout, but also every other angler that comes after you who may not have an opportunity to catch that fish because of the way you handled it. It’s not just about you’re fish.

I keep spare nets in my rig. When I see anglers without nets riverside I typically make them take one of mine. They usually get a talking to about it too. And if I see you riverside landing fish without a net and I’m not with clients…you’re gonna hear about it. Uts not right and as a guide and angler I won’t have it. Its laziness, selfishness, and disrespect all at once. Its ugly and I hate watching it riverside.

Get a net anglers. Doesn’t have to be handy just functional. If you’ve not been using one don’t fret… we’ve all made mistakes and we are all learning…just get a net and be better. It’s not hard.

Rant over,

Tamarack

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Passion

Passion. It only gets you so far in this gig. I love to fly fish. I put myself into it fully. From the day to day fishing, the guiding, the homework, the research, the knowledge, conservation, all the things that make me what I am are wrapped up in fly fishing. That passion runs deep. But it only gets you so far.

Last season and this season are shaping up to be about the same…pretty meh. Now that’s not the fishing…because both this year and last the fishing was phenomenal except for that 3 weeks at the end of the summer when it just got too hot and smokey to chase trout.

The fishing this year has been great. Bitchen skwalla hatch, great March Browns, low water all spring due to the drought. But the trips…ya they sucked I’ll be honest. The ones I did were great, had a blast…but it wasn’t enough. 50 plus days of spring and less than half guided. That’s not good. It’s not good for me, and it sucks for clients and anglers because they truly are missing out.

I say this because at the end of the day I still have to make money at this. Can’t pay the bills with laughs and damp handshakes. The fall of last season and the start of this season required a lot of bending over backwards to make happen. Last fall I called it early due to the poor trip numbers. Fishing was amazing last fall…but the guiding was not. Same with this spring and even now with the start of summer.

This year is gonna be tough with the lack of snow and the drought coming our way hard this late summer. I have been taking advantage of the absolutely amazing fishing since April with this lower than normal flow. I try and get in while it’s the least invasive to the trout because come late summer you won’t see me riverside after 2 PM weather its enforced by a hoot owl or not. 65 plus degree water temp is inevitable this summer and I won’t fish or guide when it’s that warm. So I’m hitting it hard now when it’s as good as it can get this year. Problem is…I seem to be the only one thinking this way.

Why am I saying all this? Well, this year is shaping up to be lighter than last at this rate. As a business owner I’m trying to remedy that. Typically I’d have 3-5 trips a week as we get into June but that’s not the case and it seems to be continuing that trend. Which makes me wonder if everyone is planning on summer trips when it’s not going to be as good. Trout fishing in warm weather is never really that good. Trout are cold water temperate climate critters. When water temps jack in the summer, fishing tends to be not as good. Which is why fishing before all that nastiness hits is what I’ve been trying push.

As a guide it’s frustrating and as an angler it sucks. I put a lot of time into putting up reports, getting anglers up to speed, I fish more than anyone else out here…if someone was here fishing as much as me I’m pretty sure I would see them riverside. And in the past that kind of work ethic and philosophy has served me well. That has not been the case this past summer and fall and now through the spring.

Those reports, that knowledge, the updates, the videos, the flies, the photos, all that stuff from emails to text messages to posts to trip inquiries…it all is funded by trips. I am so grateful to all those that come out and support the guide community on rivers across the west and none so much as those that come here to the Yakima with me.

However, the industry here on the Yakima can be a tough one and years like this make it harder. When battling low trip numbers, low water, lots of pressure, and continued issues with climate change and snow pack the Yakima makes it harder than just trying to trick some of the trout that live in it.

When I post that things are good they really are. There is no BS with me. I have no secrets. I only like to sell trips when I think they will give anglers the best opportunity. So when I say you’re missing out…you are. Part of being a fly angler is realizing that sometimes that hatch only lasts 2 weeks, those flows are only here for a bit longer, those temps are good only for so long, and as an angler…if you want to experience it…you need to be there.

The other thing that is lost when guide trips are not rolling…people are not out enjoying these natural public resources with professionals like myself, really learning and getting the full experience. It is much different with me on a trip than a day on your own or with friends fishing. If you’re not out in these places, enjoying them, guided or not, then you may not care about them as much, may not understand the issues and concerns they face, anglers, guides, river peeps, we all have that in common…a love for these places and a desire to make them better than they are so we can all continue to enjoy them.

A big part of my trips are getting anglers and ‘would-be’ river stewards on the up and up with what’s happening to their favorite places to catch trout. It’s part of the unwritten rule of being a voice for the river and trout I follow when I became a guide.

I’ve known that these things will come and be part of the puzzle that is guiding on the Yakima. Adding another river is supposed to help but it’s a lot of wait and see if it works out right now which compounds the stress of being a guide. I’ve spent more of my time catching fish myself and not with clients. I don’t need to catch anymore trout…but you might.

Plus the Yakima is my homewater…and I’ve gotten really good at guiding it and I want to continue to guide, conserve, and protect this place and share it with others. But that only works if the guide calendar has dates on it.

Anglers are missing out. Guided trips, at least with me, are so much more than just putting you on fish. Sure I can do that, but so can any other Yahoo with a boat and some basic river and trout know how. I’ve spent the better part of my adult life becoming a true professional guide and especially here on the Yakima River. Guided trips are about teaching, learning, unplugging, connecting with nature, facilitating stress relief, and giving other anglers more to be passionate about. A life without passion is quite a boring life. Passion into fly fishing is by far one of the best activities to put it into.

Passion separates those who just row and net fish with those who want clients to understand the fish…because understanding the why, how, what, where of the trout is what a guide does, relaying, deciphering, the river for others so that they too can fully enjoy the experience. And at the end of the day, leaving clients with a better understanding of trout, rivers, and fly fishing so that recreating or making a better experience for oneself or for the next guide trip is attainable.

There is much more to a guide trip than just catching fish…if you let it. My trips are so much more than just fish in the net and I invite anglers new and old to come experience it this season on the Yakima.

I can make two promises with my trips…its gonna be fun. No matter the number of fish. It’s always a good time. I go out of my way everyday to make sure of it. The second promise; when you leave…you’re gonna want to come back…whether on your own or on another trip…and when you do…you’ll be better prepared and have more skills to have success fly fishing.

So come on out…see what it’s all about…the goldens are popping and if you’re not fishing….you’re missing out. That passion I have…its contagious and I am very forthcoming with it.

Tamarack

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The Golden Stone

The Golden Stone is my favorite big bug hatch on western trout rivers. Unlike the Salmon Fly which is a dark and orange behemoth of a bug, the Golden is dainty for its large size. Just a little smaller than a Salmon Fly. It’s a bright yellow and gold bug with lace like wings.

A ferocious carnivore nymph that eats other micro invertebrates for up to 4 years in the river bottom and substrate before hatching in the early summer. They like it hot, typically over 75, here on the Yak that puts their hatch after the salmon flies around the first week or two of June and into July. It’s one of the longer upper river stone hatches. Its early this year due to drought conditions so taking advantage of it while it gets started is a good idea.

The fish start to key in on those big juicy crunchy golden bugs when they start to return to the river to oviposit. Usually later in the afternoon. Then you’ll see big yellow bugs coming out of the trees and falling onto the river to lay eggs. This is what gets the troots attention. After a few days of those big bugs hitting the river. Its game on for trout. Especially cutties. They love the big yellow bugs up here.

The golden stone hatch is one of the only hatches where it will turn 20-40 trout on dries when it’s good. They just eat em all day long. Ita glorious, amazeballs, hell sometimes dare I say….epic. What is better than hucking big dries at boulders, seams, overhangs, and undercuts all day and turning trout on them!? You know the answer.

I’ve got days open during the hatch. Which is just getting started. Come get some big bug action on the upper Yak this early summer.

Tamarack