The Subtle Take

IMG_2373

The season seems to be upon us. More or less. While the river temps are rising a few tenths of a degree everyday with this lovely weather we are having, the winter as a whole seems to be on its way out. With forecasting models showing the same issues with pacific ridging and all that cool sciencey stuff that is making anglers swoon.

I took a look at the Cle Elum today, running around 272 cfs and the water was around 42 ish. I looked for nymphs under the rocks near the banks and found a few, nothing major. I also just took the time to watch the areas that always have fish this time of year. There were a handful of trouts feeding under the surface. Most likely midges as there was a pretty good hatch. Nothing on the surface in my observation but thats pretty normal with 42 degree water.

The season is approaching however, and the all to familiar and always awesome sight of driftboats with trailers lining mainstreet in the am is becoming more regular. Of course right now its usually like 1 driftboat. I took the afternoon to wash mine out. Was really dirty from the winter. During which I never clean her because well….its kind of a pain. Luckily my big plastic bath toy cleans up real nice. I love getting things ready for the beginning of the season. My birthday is this month and the Skwalla hatch usually coincides with it or a week after. I typically celebrate turning a year older, this year 29, by hitting the river for the day. This year will be no different and the dry fly fishing could be wicked. That is if a trip doesn’t get booked on that day, in which case I would just get to float another day that week which is never a problem.

This blog post is gonna plug the fact that I do offer guided fly fishing trips. Kinda sucky but I have already learned that these posts have a positive effect on the calendar dates filling up without having to outright say it so there it is. I just said it now lets move on.

Cool fishing story to end it all off from a birthday of mine a few years back.

Before I had my driftboat, I used to walk up river from the East boat launch outside of Cle Elum a lot. I just found there were less people and easier wading. Plus a lot of just killer water. Downstream is great too but thats another story.

It was on my birthday, and we had a really warm spell that led us into March. The dry fly fishing in the canyon was really starting to pick up, with almost 60 degree days of course it was. The upper river however, was slow to get going. Which is pretty normal. While everyone and their dogs crowded the lower river for a chance at a fish on the dry fly; I was more interested in a big fish on anything and I knew just the spot.

I don’t typically care for what size a trout is just as long as I get to chase them and trick a few. But, this particular spot and I had our runs ins and I always found decent sized trout in it. I was in the mood for a cutthroat but had had a moment with a few already for the day on the nymph. I came up to the spot and took a gander.

The sun was grazing the tree tops with her orange late winter hue. The shadows upon the river like jagged teeth closing in for the night. The light was touching the far end of the slack water at the front end of the hole and a foam line was just visible. A good 35 40 feet away from me with the breadth of the river and at least two different current speeds. Then…I saw it. Only just at first.

A nose….

Not just any nose…a nose and head around the size of my fist! Another sip!

I saw the trout rise a third time barely breaking the surface tension of the slack water. My heart panicked. I quickly switched out my rig and set up for a dry fly. I gave myself a nice long piece of 5x supple flex tippet and tied on a size 18 midge dry. One of the ugliest flies I have ever tied. Nothing more than a few strands of snowshoe rabbit, black thread, and some sparkle yarn for a tail. You can’t see the fly without really spending some time watching it on the water as it is so small. Rocky Ford in the early days was helpful.

The trout rose again. I made my approach. I stayed well down stream and kept my cast really low. If I spooked this fish I would never forgive myself. A rainbow that size is always a treat in the upper stretches and only a rainbow would sip so stealthily and delicately in this river.

The cast was quite difficult and left little room for error. I figured I would F it up big time but I gave it a shot.

Now before we finish this tale of trout versus angler we need to have a disclaimer. What is about to unfold….never happens to me…like in ever, and I have caught a lot of finicky Yakima Trout.

I gave three perfect false casts, and I mean perfect, that line just cut through the cool late winter air like warm butter. I remember the distinct sound of my Mastery Texture Series line as it sung through the guides. Zip…Zip….

I placed the fly 3 feet upriver from the infamous snout. I held the rod high, which I thought would be the end all, but with the cross currents the only way to secure a proper drift with such a fly made it necessary. Everything went silent…

My vision seemed to tunnel on the spot where the trout had rose before. I took a deep breath and held it in anticipation. 6 more inches…..

Whether I was blessed by the fly fishing spirits, my trout sense was in perfect sync, or I just got really bloody lucky that trout rose.

The snout broke the surface and I watched in sheer joy, horror, and the utmost excitement, as my fly, the size 18, fugly little midge gnat, was hoovered by this trout.

It was on. This trout was in no mood and I very much angered him by interrupting his late afternoon feeding. The head-shakes of this trout put fear into my rod. My reel screamed against the silence. The calm intensity of the prior moment was now broken with chaos and pure awesomeness. The fish leapt from the river and I got to witness his prowess. An immense trout!

The trout was not giving up and continued to work its way into the deeper water where I knew a rootwad was waiting for me. A high rod tip and a well played fish were all that was needed. Easier said than done. Like I said, I got really bloody lucky. The Wild Rainbow found his way into my net. I was amazed and dumfounded. 22 inches of pure awesome in trout form.

I pulled the fugly fly from my quarry and released the fish who said goodbye with a splash as if to get back at me. I was done for the day. I tipped my hat to the river, said thank you, and made my way back to my rig. There was nothing else in this river that would top that fish for today.

Just to see and chase such an impressive trout is an experience, but to actually have everything click into place and have that perfect first cast moment that tricks the old, sipping, rainbow is damn near…I’m gonna use it….Legendary! At least for me. Its just one of those moments that will go down as one of the greatest on this river for me, and it was on my freaking birthday!

I hope to share moments like the one with Mr. Subtle Take Trout, with my clients. I actually named my boat after that particular trout, and have “The Subtle Take” engraved in my transom plate in the back of my boat. Take a look if you are ever in the hog this season. We might even be floating by the same hole, and there are always decent fish in it.

Tamarack

#yakimariver #homewater #trout #flyfishing

Bytes, bits, and a life of bites.

IMG_1846

I enjoy the slower side of life. Being 28 I feel as if I stumbled on some secret almost a decade ago. Fly fishing seems to be the driving force behind my, “enlightenment” if you will.

I fell into a field of study at college that fed on the technology this country has such an appetite for. Even as I type this app and manage my website, check Facebook, send emails, and listen to internet radio while doing it, I realize the irony that sometimes presents itself here. Using the very tools I am somewhat condemning to write and promote myself, for a lifestyle that feeds on the complete opposite.

We live in a world of bytes and bits. Bytes of computing speed, bytes of internet speed, small sound bits, small clips and bits of video, bits of text coming on bytes of data, fed directly into your eye and ear holes. The more we use it the more they pump into it. Now I can watch how to tie a fly on the Internet, while watching a video of fishing in New Zealand, filling out a fly tying order, and checking my facebook feed, while also looking at whats trending, checking the flows for tomorrows float, and reading the news and blog articles. Oh wait someone just messaged me, and I have a new guide trip inquiry, and a voicemail!

Its a never ending comma stream of things we do every day on auto pilot at mach 10 going full speed all the time! Its exhausting to even type it all out.

STOP…

Fly fishing is the complete opposite. For me it all about the river. The river moves slow around the bends, fast through the drops, and light and airy through the riffles. It has deep slow troughs that can move trees, it carves canyons and hews rock with its very touch…slowly over time. A slow powerful giver. All a river does is give, it gives life to the valley, it carves beauty into the mountain side, and is home to species upon species of life. The river is the matriarch of the wild, if the mountains are the father.

They give the angler many things. Why everything starts with the river for me is two fold. It brings me silence, and it demands patience.

I suffer from some wicked tennittus, playing drums in bands when younger will do that do you. The ringing never ceases. Like most who suffer from this annoyance of a problem, it can make things rather uncomfortable sometimes. Sleep is a big problem at times, crowded areas with lots of crowd noise make it worse making it difficult to hear, staring at computer screens for extended periods also make it kick up. The river…is the ultimate cure all for it. It combats the ringing with its constant running and the silence that surrounds the river makes the annoyance disappear and I find relief. It sounds silly but it works. It doesn’t work for any real scientific or health reason. It works because of what the river does to me.

All that noise, the plugged in nature of everyday life today, can flare up all sorts of problems for people. Stress being the biggest. The river takes that all away. She gives me my cure, by drowning it all out and I can focus and find a sort of peace in the form of chasing trout and all that it entails.

There is none of the regular life on the river. The river doesn’t care for any of it. Mobile phones should be off in her presence, not always a reality, but try it sometime. The river demands your attention, your focus, and your patience. She gives, but not without testing. The gift I love most is the silence.

The river is anything but silent but it is silent to the world away from the river. She drowns out the world around with her subtle flow, birds sing and chat along her banks, squirrels talk at one another, a river otter chirps, a beaver slaps its tail, a bugle of a distant elk in the fall, or the loud call of an osprey or eagle riding the air in search of prey. The river uses all of this to clear out all the noise and fill me with silence. A silence we have lost touch with. Imagine a world without the noise? Just you and nature….some people can’t handle it. Its intoxicating to some who find a place of such silence. A mountain top where no plane flies overhead, a river with a roaring rapid around the bend, a snow filled day and the sound of a cutting ski, these bring silence to the noise.

Patience. A skill hard learned for an angler. The world off river is a fast paced one. I find that if life doesn’t slow down, insanity will ensue. It starts with that cabin fever you get. Some people don’t realize its cabin fever and they snap after 30 years of doing the same grind everyday and buy a sports car. Screw the car, buy a drift boat!

I get cabin fever about every three days to be honest. I find myself yearning to be outdoors and on the river more and more. The winter has not been kind, and even when I am not on the river she is teaching me patience. Be patient for spring Nate, its coming.

I hone my patience through tying when not on the river. Sitting and focusing on a singular activity for extended periods of time that is not plugged in helps my patience. All the while I am thinking about trout and the river that holds them. I’m like a drug addict. A patient, angling addict.

That patience has trickled and infiltrated into my everyday life. I am patient with my children, my lady, my co workers, the general public. I keep a cool, calm, steady, and patient demeanor, a giving outlook on things, and deep powerful passion; the river has no room for anything else so why should life? Why do those with money, large houses, and lots of things, envy the trout bum with a simple happy life? Because life is slower, and they see it, and they want it. It’s worth more than any amount of money. Pretty sure we are missing something about this thing we call life. Fly Fishing reopens a door for me. I enter into a world that is devoid of the very things we think make up life. Money, job, car, family, bills, the stuff that clogs up what life actually is, isn’t on the river. Where would it be…there is no room for it.

When you spend enough time on the river you start to figure some things out. The biggest one for me always comes back to patience. Life, much like the river, necessitates patience. My life has slowed down. I take my time to go about my day. Always trying to stray from feeling rushed or constrained. I take my time on the little things: the mornings are for slowly waking early, with the sun is best. A strong cup of tea is recommended, always taking the time to drink it fully. I typically enjoy a tea and a read, or I will write in the mornings. This sets up the rest of the day. Taking the time to enjoy it is the best method for a proper day. A good groom of the beard and a curl of the mustache in the morning makes for a dapper day as well.

I spend time enjoying the simple things. The turn of the thread while at the vise or holding my baby daughter and listening to her tell me all about her day requires attention and patience. Brushing things aside and rushing everything means you miss the whole point. You don’t jet boat down the river fishing one cast in every hole and moving on! You float or walk, with the river, at her speed, you slow down to spend more time and give each fish the proper attention. Should life be any different? Why not approach life as if I were approaching a wary rainbow lurking in the under cut. When you spend enough time on the river….you learn things.

The pace of my world has slowed so much I enjoy the simple pleasure of rolling the perfect smoke, tying the perfect fly, making the perfect cast, or spending hours with legos and a couple of kids, all of them making me fill fulfilled for the day. I may work 8 hours a day a few days a week and get a paycheck every month but it does not fulfill me. It pays for the off river world that is a necessity and allows me to spend more days on the river and chase trout with friends and clients. There is always the hope that my days of work are always ones that involve trout, but taking your time to accomplish your goals seems to be the best strategy in my experience. Rushed never works and sometimes doing things solo is the best method, much like a walk and wade trip into the mountains in search of trout and solitude.

So there it is! A few insights about life from a fly fishermen. Going the speed of the river seems to be a better way to get through things. Making a goal everyday of downloading less bytes and bits and making the only bites I have…from trout keeps me happy and content.

Tamarack