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A Testament to A Good Angling Partner

 

A good fishing partner is something that can be monumental in an anglers life.  When I first started chasin trout I was selfish in my endeavors.  In my early years of angling I spent all my time solo.  Discovering and exploring every blue line and running water way I could find from valley to mountain peak.  I searched out the sources of my beloved rivers, hiked miles and miles, bushwhacked and cut trail to forgotten and unnamed streams and creeks.  Nothing but a box of flies, a cheap fly rod, and an insatiable hunger for all things trout and wild.

It wasn’t until I had fished myself silly and I got a little older that my solo time on rivers and with trout became a lonely adventure.  I had kids at home that were too young to chase trout with me, being very young with kids left little room for friends, especially when I spent all my free time fishing.  I recall even back then when I was in college and working the 9-5 to pay for shit that the few people I did know through angling were always too busy to keep up with my appetite for rivers and trout.  A good angling partner is not easy to find.  There is always someone ready to go fish…but just taking someone for a float or hiking into secret waters isn’t what I was looking for.  Yes I wanted another angler, with fresh eyes, different instincts, someone who matched or exceeded my own technical and physical skills to chase trout.  But damnit…I needed a friend and a person that had passion and respect for rivers that was in line with mine.

I’ve mentored anglers, fished with people and friends, but interests change, life takes people away from the river.  I’ve shown my secrets to some…only to have it bite me in the ass later.  Nothing worse than showing an angler a treasured spot that is still secret or ‘locals only’ and to find them guiding in it or talking too much about it at the local shop and causing it to lose it’s luster.  I still keep a lot of places close to the chest.  Areas that I still only visit solo…some places I haven’t seen in years over fear that they will be discovered by others and parts of me are still not ready to let them go.  Not many of those places are left for me…but a few.

My pursuit of a good angling partner came about as I began guiding more.  Meeting new people everyday, many of them lifelong angling partners, some married couples that have fished for decades, college friends that chased trout together in between classes, river side acquaintances that turned into life long trout aficionados.  I wanted that.  The chemistry angling partners have is a unique and interesting connection, as different and as varied as the people that frequent my driftboat.  It wasn’t until I had been fishing for almost 10 years that I found a fellow angler that shared in my interests, skill, and passion, for these wild aquatic animals and the places they frequent.

I shared a brief time with Casey, we fished almost everyday I wasn’t guiding.  Exploring the high reaches and rapids of the mountain rivers, floating the big water tricking trout, discovering more about each other both as anglers and people every time we ventured out.  Tying sessions at the house, dinners with the family, always talking trout and life.  That connection to the person formed over the catching and releasing of trout.  Learning about another person, where they come from, their perspective on life, where their passion is rooted, the desire to chase trout and why it is so fervent in them.  Those intricate things that tie a person to a river, and to the others that are woven into the riffles and runs are the part of angling that is lost when fly fishing is a job; and something that I was very grateful to have found with Casey.

I lost my angling partner to suicide.  A veteran, and man who suffered from intense PTSD, angling and sharing the river with me was his cure, his coping mechanism, the thing that allowed him to lose himself in the waters and disconnect him from the events in his life that brought sorrow and pain.  I miss him everyday.  I still have not visited a particular section of river in the mountains since his passing because of fear I will disrupt his memory.   Every now and then I hear his boisterous cackle of a laugh over the sound of our favorite riffle “Drake Alley” on the Upper Yakima and I catch myself looking behind me every time I float by.  Like the large wild trout that makes your heart sink when it frees itself from your fly and severs that connection, I still feel that phantom tug in my arm.  Haunting…but I feel privileged to have been introduced and spent however short amount of time with Casey riverside.  It changed me, had a profound effect on me and left me with questions, doubt, anger, sorrow, and a new sense of loneliness and longing that I had never felt before.

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I spent some time solo fishing again…wishing I was sharing these fish and places with another.  I threw myself into angling and tying throughout the off season.  The void left by losing Casey filled me with emotions and loss that I had never felt before.  A lot is shared riverside between two people.  Something that is hard to explain to those that haven’t shared a river with others.  He was my brother, uncle to my kids, someone I talked to everyday.  And not being able to share life on and off river with him was and is super shitty.  As the season after his passing approached I focused all my attention on honing my skills further as a guide and angler.  I worked constantly, spent every free minute I had wrapped up in trout and rivers.  My work doubled that season, and I was fortunate to meet a fellow angler through my work that sought me out as their angling partner.

As many who follow me on social media or have seen me on a guide’s day off recently riverside, Ross and I fish a lot together.  And while you never replace the people you lose, somehow the universe puts people in your life that just need to be there.  I must have done something good in my previous life, or have stacked up karma points, because I have been fortunate to have people in my life that share a passion for trout and rivers.  Sometimes the river presents an opportunity at another large wild trout.  Finding another angler, or having an angler find you, that rivals your passion and need to explore and seek out trout is the golden ticket.

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Being able to look at a run or riffle and pick it apart and have a counterpart do the same and arrive at completely different approaches both equally successful in their ability to trick wild trout is one thing.  But to be able to share in that often unspoken deep connection to nature, wild animals, and people is something else entirely.  Its that one thing that I think a lot of anglers who I take on trips are searching for but don’t know it.  Its something I see from time to time with life long angling partners when they reserve a day with me.  I have moved past the need to catch every fish, the want to catch the biggest fish, or the desire to be the best.  For me its about that connection to everything that is happening above and below the surface of the river.  To try and understand and decipher how its all connected and how I as an angler can be a part of it.  Ross shares that passion.  And while many of the things that pop up on social media are the weird, funny, and sometimes stupid moments that can fill a day on the river.  The days that you don’t see, the days I write about, the days that are discussed over dinner, the ones that are never even talked about…those are the ones that matter, that make up a life on the river.  For every dancing video, hoot and hollering trout encounter, every photo posted to keep butts in driftboat seats so I can pay the bills; there is a silent morning watching the river over coffee, enjoying the peace of the wild and the pleasure of another anglers company.

While its referred to as a bromance, and Ross is my Biden.  Its more than that.  A brother, a friend, a person that shares in my passion for trout and life.  A good angler requires a constant honing and fine tuning of the skills.  Being able to share in the chasing of trout with another equally but differently skilled angler is a key component of that in my mind, a fortunate byproduct of a good angling partner…because it’s not really about the trout at the end of the day is it?  Outside of angling people make connections with each other that last their lifetimes.  The connections that are made with people through shared passions are the ones that stick.  The ones that change your life, enrich it, fill it with the things that make us human.  All those intricate things that make up what it means to human.  Watching Ross and his lovely wife married in the woods, Thanksgiving dinner, my children excited to see them when they come to fish or hang out, the things that happen off river that make up the juicy parts of life and friendship.  They mimic the juicy parts of a day of fishing.  As I find myself getting older, watching my children grow, and spending more time riverside than I ever have, I chase the off river life as much as I chase the riverside one.

A testament to a good angling partner indeed.  When your entire life revolves around trout its nice to have another person knee deep in the run with you from time to time.  Not because they paid to be there, not because they want to know all your secrets, not even to learn from each other, but because damnit…fishing with them is bitchin’.  When the hatch is over, the river is quiet, and the boat is parked back in the driveway, and you still can’t pull yourself away from the conversation or the people you’re surrounded by…you know you found a good angling partner.

I hope to see ya riverside.

Tamarack.

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River Update 4/22/16

SALMON FLIES!!!

  
The Salmon Flies are starting to appear. A good 25 minute hatch today with a fair amount of bugs. Fish are still uncooperative and are not looking up as much as we would like to see but things are still settling down for irrigation and run off. 

We’ve also got March Browns and some Caddis. 

Fish are starting to feed on a schedule, keying in on hatches and hanging out in all the good water. Flows in the upper are still wonky but sections are fishable. 

  
The Teanaway is still making a mess and the flows are forecasted to be high for the next 7 to 10 days. That being said, as this runoff settles, fish should be more cooperative. 

We have lower temps, cloud cover, and light rain for the next 10 days. This should help get the river back into shape and make fish less hesitant to surface feed. 

  
We’ve got high winds and thunderstorms in the forecast for the weekend. But starting Monday things should be prime for some fishing.

I’ve got availability on the schedule. Give me a call and let’s go sling some big bugs for trout!

Hope to see you on the river soon!
Tamarack

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Skwalla McTwitchy aka The Bacon-Nater

There aren’t many patterns of mine that I would say work better than just about any other for a particular hatch or insect. 

But Skwalla McTwitchy aka The Bacon-Nater when not tied for a specific bug, is one of those patterns.  The recipe is at the end. 

Skwalla McTwitchy aka The Bacon-Nater

This pattern is based on a simple Stimi based dry tied Parachute Style. But the poly yarn underwing holds floatant very well, the moose hair wing floats as good as foam without the non natural look of foam. 

The hi via parachute is over hackled for more floatation as well. The body can be tied in just about any color or dubbin type you can think of. I like full ice dub bodies for summer time in multiple colors, and I like hares ear ice dub blends when I’m going for more specific colors to match a hatch. I also tie them with no flash or ice dub for when conditions and trout call for subtle flies. 

The legs are whatever strips of rubber you have lying around. I tie the body like I would a Pats Stone.  The legs are the important part. This pattern is for stoneflies and grasshoppers. But mainly stoneflies. Stoneflies are active on the water surface. 
They skitter and dance, crawl and flutter about the river. Salmon flies like big chinook helicopters beating the air so loud against their heavy bodies you can hear them coming before they get stuck in your beard. Skwallas slow and sleepy as they battle against the cold air, or Golden’s that flutter and cause commotion on the surface as they hatch in the current like a mayfly instead of along the rocks like their cousins. This pattern is all about action. Just like the natural. 

The body and legs of the fly ride low in the meniscus, even in faster or heavier current when floatant is added.  I twitch this fly like crazy, fish that are keyed in on stoneflies are looking for bugs that move, and the strikes during this type of feeding can be intense and violent. It’s wicked fun. These legs that ride low in the water give the desired twitchy effect of a natural stonefly that is doing its thing. Sometimes they fall in and are tryi to get back to shores, other times a female is laying eggs on the surface. No matter what these bugs have action. So does this fly, even with subtle twitches.

So tie some up or order some, and throw some action on those big dry flies when the stones are hatching this season.

Ingredients:

Hopper Hook or long shank Dry fly size 10 or bigger. 

6/0 thread

Rubber legs

Hi Vis Poly Yarn for para post. 

Dubbin of choice

Poly Yarn 

Krystal Flash

Moose Hair

Grizzly or Brown Hackle size matched to hook or one size larger. 

Recipe:

Lay thread base and tie in rubber legs as tails and antenae. 

Tie in your hi vis para post at the 1/3 mark back from the eye. 

Dub the body up toward the para post but leave enough space to tie in wing. 

Tie in 3 strands of Krystal flash V style so 6 strands lay out the back. 

Tie in poly-yarn wing. 

Stack some moose hair and tie in the wing. Trim the hair so that the para post is upright. 

Tie in legs. 

Add Glue then tie in hackle. 

Dub and create a thorax, and rest the thread on the front side of the para post. 

Wrap hackle para style. Heavy. 

Tie down hackle. 

Add small amount of dubbin and create a head.

Whip finish and Boom!
Trout Season Is Coming. 

Tamarack

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Early Season Fishing Techniques

So you’ve been stuck indoors all winter long patiently waiting for the rivers to thaw and the trouts to wake up.  Now that winter seems to be loosening its grip the waiting is almost unbearable.  Some of the more “hardcore” anglers will venture out and net a few fish after spending 3 to 4 hours trudging through the snow and in the craptastic weather.  Mostly we do it because we can’t torture ourselves by just thinking about tight lines anymore and have to put ourselves through some pretty miserable days just for that one moment with a trout…its not called “hardcore” for nothing I guess.  I just call it being a fly angler and I am fortunate that my entire life these days is basically all about trout.

I love this transition period.  When everyone starts thinking about fishing again.  All the guides and shops start coming out of the woodwork, your old buddies that know you are a guide and have a boat call ya up and ask about how the river is.  I’ve been watching this river for 10 years and after the drought and everything that hit us last year I am more stoked and anxious for this coming 2016 trout season than any other.  The early season is a great time to fish.  There aren’t many other anglers on the river, the bigger fish are easier to catch, there are only a few things that trout will actually eat, and only a few places they will be as the spring slowly approaches.  Knowing how to fish in the early season separates the men from the boys, the ladies from the girls, the hogs from the dinks, if you will…or just means you can’t take it anymore and need to stick some trout. 

Riverside

Early Season techniques aren’t rocket science, just fishy science.  Trout are still sleepy, and their feeding habits are directly related to the river water temperature.  When water temps start rising above 40 degrees trout metabolism starts up and they require more food to function.  They’ve been in hibernation basically for the winter, podded up with buddies eating only when they absolutely need it.  Now that things are warming up they start needing more food and another thing starts to weigh on the trouts mind…sex.  Spawning to be exact.  Fish need a lot of protein in order to spawn, which means they need food.  Lots of food.  Soon fish will be gorging themselves on stoneflies, baitfish, small mayflies, and midges like crazy.

Flies. So lets talk about flies first, and start with Nymphs:  The good ol’ Pats Stone is a good go too during this time of year.  Its chunky, looks like a lot of bugs, and is slow and easy to eat.  Boom, pattern one…get to tying.  Midges, those damned little bastards that are typically so small you swear the trout is taking a breath and not eating.  Nope, they are eating size 18 and smaller little midge worms so grab those zebra midge patterns in whatever color you want.  I like red and black with a red glass bead and some silver wire.  I have them in blue, purple, orange, white, pink, green, all the colors of the rainbow.  But for reals…tie up some zebra midge patterns and use them as trailers or just by themselves.  BWO’s or the Blue Wing Olive Mayfly has lots of nymphs patterns. I like the WD40, Psycho Baetis, that damned Tungsten Yeagar Hares Ear thing.  All good for nymphing those little mayfly dudes.

 

Red Head Zebra Midge
 
The San Juan Wormy should always be around during the winter and runoff periods as well.  We don’t like to talk about it, but some anglers go straight for the worm because it works, others hold onto it as a last resort when all the other “proper” patterns fail.  I tend to play dirty, I throw what fish are gonna eat.  That kind of settles nymphs for the early season.  Eggs can also be used but that is playing real dirty and I will leave each angler to their own on that one.

For Dries, if you are wicked lucky you might get a trout that has decided to look up.  They are typically eating one of two things during this time of year.  A midge…or a Blue Wing Olive.  If you see a fish surface and don’t see anything on the water to discern what it may be dining on…its a midge.  I have size 18 to 22 little gnat patterns with wings.  They don’t look like much but I catch the occasional eager eating trout on them.  The BWO should be easy to identify, the little olive mayfly is delicate and hatches in droves typically.  Fish pod up and feed actively when a hatch is happening.  The little bugs also congregate in slow water and fish tend to target them there as most trout are just chilling in the deep part of the pool already.  I use biot body emergers for the BWO mostly.  They have a CDC post, with a light shuck, they work really well.  The final dry is the Skwalla Stonefly. Skwallas happen on some western rivers and they are easy to see and trout hit them like they hit most stoneflies…you’ll know when its happening, and this is typically the official start of the spring trout season. I use bullet heads a lot, and some secret patterns that twitch really well.  All size 10.  Oh, and my go to Skwalla pattern is the Purple Chubby…they haven’t seen it since the summer, and they really want to eat it.  

CDC Para BWO

Techniques.  Dries are easy, see a fish rise, cast at it, hope for the best.  When fish start moving in to feed actively on dries look for slow seams, back eddies, and slow pools with foam.  Fish look here and they don’t have to expel a bunch of energy fighting current.  Water temps will typically be around 42-45 when BWO happen.  Air temp becomes a factor as well, bugs don’t like to hatch if they can’t dry out their wings.  Sunshine days, or overcast days with air temps above 40 will set the conditions for those little olive morsels in the early season.  For Skwallas, you know the drill, close to the bank, some twitchy action…BOOM!  Ya…like cold weather hopper fishing, paying close attention to areas where there is foliage overhanging the river, rip rap areas, large boulders, and rocky ledges.  Stoneflies like to hang out there.  So do fish.

I use long leaders, typically 12 feet, for mayfly and midge dry fly setups, with 5x flouro tippet or 6x mono.  The flouro helps with super spooky fish in gin clear water like we have here in the upper yak.  (SIDE NOTE:  All the damn eagles are making the trouts super smart.  Damn raptors.)  For Skwalla set up, the standard 9 foot leader and 5x or 4x mono gets it done.  I put a lot of action on the fly typically.

I recently started using another technique that is common in New Zealand and other areas for super spooky fish.  I shorten up my leader to 7 feet, and go super light on tippet but use a good 15 inches of it.  Typically flouo in 5x or smaller.  Then I stalk up close to the fish, stay low, and make a short single shot cast, no false casting.  I try and keep as much of the line and leader off the water as possible with a high stick.  This makes it so there is little to no line indent in the water surface and little line shadow.  Now, you may only get a shot or two at the trout, but this technique is for those really spooky fish that you come across.  The ones that take 20 minutes to come back into the lane to feed after you make a shadow when making your first cast at them.  Sneaky trouts.  Its really awesome when it all clicks and you get to meet a really surprised and hangry trout.

Techniques for Nymphs.  Well…go deep and work your way up.  I work water like a steelheader.  I pick my run, or my pool, or my line, and I start breaking it apart one cast at a time; covering every inch of it.  Every INCH!  Get after it.  They are in there somewhere.  I look for that slow to walking speed water, a good place to just hang out and chill.  The trout have basically been doing the equivalent of “Netflix and Chill” all winter long.   Just like me.  So look for water that would represent a chill day on the couch for a trout.  Ya…throw your nymphs through there.  I start deep…clears out all the whitefish, and then I work my way up if I don’t hook up after dredging the bottom.  I’m methodical with my nymph game.  I will work a piece of water at 8 feet, 5 feet, 3 feet of depth, and work each 6-8 inch lane from top to bottom.  Sometimes I just pick one piece of water and only work it for the day.  Those trout can only be in a few places in the river, so find the best “trout couches” and interrupt their Netflix session with a hook in the mouth.

 

The Bugger
 

Streamers!  I use them a lot more now.  I like a nice 4-7 ips 10ft. sink tip and a piece of meat.  I don’t throw little streamers very often.  Maybe a size 6 Bugger or something, but everything else is Kelly Galloup ridiculous big.  Mmmm, big fish eat big “little” fish.  I target the water the same way as nymphing, just swing and strip style.

Early Season Bow

I don’t use a boat very often during the early season.  It’s a lot of work when you only have about 4 good hours to fish.  Besides, walk and wading all bundled up and in 36-45 degree water shaves fat in preparation for the coming guide season.  It also gives me the chance to get back in touch with the river after the long winter away.  I may only fish a handful of times during the actual winter if at all.  Once the early season arrives its time to get back into trout mode and being able to set foot in the river a few times a week or every day of the week is how I reconnect.

Being able to stand against the current, casting in the snow, my breath clouding in front of me.  My beard and mustache crisp with frost.  The distinctive sound of a bald eagle’s chirp as it sits halfway up the barren cotton wood, head cocked to one side.  That “shink” sound that the line makes as it travels through an iced over guide…an indicator bobs along slowly…it dips gently…tension…head shake…the pulse of a well wintered wild trout against the rod…oh ya…that’s what I need after a long winter.  

So there’s some early season trout chasing pointers from this trout guide.  Over the next three weeks the Yakima River  will start to wake up along with other western rivers. These techniques should help you have more successful days.  Of course, if you have any questions just ask.  And I’ll do a business plug here:

I’m taking early season reservations now.  Skwalla Spring Special: $275.00 for 1 or 2 anglers.  5+ hours of fishing, hot soup, and some trout chasing with my beardy face.

Get out there and chase some trout.  I hope to see ya riverside this season.

 

Tamarack

 

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Teanaway 

The Sentinel

Mount Stuart towers in the distance. Her peak barren of the normal snowcap she wears during the start of August. North Fork Teanaway road straightens out in front of me as I drive towards one of favorite mountain peaks in the world. From her foothills the headwaters of the Teanaway river begins. It flows a torrent of whitewater through granite stones cut deep by her chilling and slicing embrace. Her sound can typically be heard throughout the entire basin if you listen intently on a quiet day in the woods. The waterfalls that seem to fall from the very sky fill the river with some of the most pristine water in the world. The animals that inhabit the Teanaway Rivershed are the epitome of Pacific Northwest Wildlife. With Black Bear, Cougar, Wolf, Wolverine, Samsquanch, Mountain Goats, with hundreds of bird species, deer, elk, skunk, hare, flying squirrel, red fox, and so many more the forest surrounding the river is teeming with life. The river holds some of the most pure species of wild trout in the western states. With Wild Rainbow, Westlope Cutthroat, Steelhead, and Bulltrout, the river system is the last bastion for many species including Wild Steelhead and Bulltrout.

The Source

As I see the headwaters of the river before me my heart is heavy. She is but a trickle coming down the granite mountainside. The pool under the waterfall is waist deep and is full of small soon to be starving trout. As I look at the dried up waterfalls that feed the upper most reaches of the North Fork of the Teanaway I am filled with fear. This river has never seen such a drought. This wild place is on the precipice.

 

Data Collection
 

I make my way further down river. Checking the water temps the entire time. I am finding normal water temps for this time of year in the upper end of the river however; the flows are a fraction of what they ought to be. When well over 100 cfs is typically coming down this small river in the summer we have less than 30 cfs. I find trout in pools, surprisingly healthy with full bellies. A perfect 10-inch cutthroat decided to say hello and I was reminded of what the term wild really means. These fish, despite the odds, are surviving. By the end of the summer there may only be a handful of breeding fish left to carry on the species. Those trout that they spawn…will be ever stronger. The trout…are doing what they do…being wild and surviving. Life does find a way. 

I make my way farther down river. The temps are warming. Feeder creeks and small tributaries such as Jungle Creek, Stafford Creek, Bean Creek, Beverly Creek, are trickles or dried up completely meaning there is no cold influx of water as the river makes its way to the valley below the mountains. I say goodbye to Mt. Stuart and the surrounding behemoths of granite that the Teanaway cuts away at with every spring and summer run off. The granite stones get a respite from her torrent this year.

Rock Dams

I stop at the famous sandstone swimming holes near 29 Pines Campground to check the water temp. I find a rock dam blocking flow and chuck rocks onto the bank. The river seems to breath a sigh of relief and I count 3 small fingerling fish make their way up river as if waiting for me to open the door. I find two more small rock dams and break them down wishing a sign about how illegal they are in ESA listed streams were present. A TU project for later. I come to the sandstone chute just past the Teanaway Outpost under the bridge. There is 10 cfs going by. I can literally see 10 milk jugs go by a second…its unfathomable. The place smells of dead fish. The water temp is 70 degrees. I find nothing…not even an aquatic insect. It is devoid of life. I leave quickly not wishing to spend any more time in the tomb.

I come to the valley filled with farmlands. Mt. Stuarts’ gaze hidden back behind the hills and trees. I feel that if the mountain were a mere 2000 feet taller and everyone could see the summit from anywhere in the valley…the state of the Teanaway would be much different. The Sentinel of the Teanaway River has been tricked and the river that it has born has suffered. The farms are still watering their fields. A recent stop on all irrigation came to the valley in an effort to save water. The few fields I see getting water must be on wells or finishing up their last orders. As I look at the river below Red Bridge Road I am appalled. Stagnant pools filled with Dart and Pike Minnow, algae, and 70 degree water. There is no flow; the riverbed is drying up in places, if the heat of summer continues I believe the lower Teanaway will dry up completely.

The Lower Teanaway

The Yakima River and Teanaway River Confluence is a stagnant pool of warming water. Typically during this time of year, the trout in the Yakima River receive a shot of cool water for thermal refuge from her sister the Teanaway. Steelhead would have spawned there this spring, as well as trout. Salmon would normally return but they will not have the chance this year. The fish that got trapped in the lower Teanaway have all but perished, those that were able to escape are in the low flow and small cool pools of the upper river farther into the mountains. As the Yakima River water temps increase the wild trout will receive no respite from the Teanaway as they normally would. The Steelhead, Rainbow, and Cutthroat that were spawned this spring are trapped in the headwaters and may not survive the summer and winter to continue the life cycle next season…if the snows come.

The Bulltrout are all but gone now. They have no refuge and have died or hopefully…pushed into the Yakima River and will return to spawn this fall. I have seen a few of those unicorns in the Yakima this season…giving me hope. Visiting the Teanaway today gave me hope. I was reminded of the resilience of nature and wild animals despite the odds and our encroachment. The drought is only one factor in the reason behind the demise of the Teanaway River. The mountains that hold her, the forest that surrounds her, the farmlands that she gives life too…all will suffer as she dries up. The entire valley feels thirsty. A strong rain for days or a wickedly blizzardly winter is needed. But our help is also needed.

If more is not done to preserve and protect the Teanaway River not only will the entire Teanaway Valley and surrounding Forest suffer, the Yakima River below will suffer. As it is a true freestone headwaters to the Yakima River, if it suffers, everything downstream suffers. Headwaters do Matter. More conservation is needed, more efficient irrigation practices, rigorous data collection on the trout required, and some intense habitat restoration is a must if we ever want to see the Teanaway River in her former glory.

Zi-Fi’s 1st Cutty

Some of my fondest memories of angling are on the Teanaway River. I found an ancient and gnarly Wild Westlope Cutthroat in a deep pool. The old trout was so gargantuan it still dwarfs some of the largest cutthroat I have caught out of the Yakima River. My eldest daughter was introduced to her first trout on the Teanaway. My youngest daughter was introduced to her first trout this year before the drought sunk in on the Teanaway. I have a memory of playing in the sandstone swimming holes one summer when I was very young, collecting cased caddis as they crawled along the rocks at my feet. I met my first Bulltrout on the Teanaway River. A story I haven’t shared with anyone to this day save for Tim Irish. That Bulltrout will haunt me for the rest of my life, especially now knowing that it’s genetics and offspring have not survived the 6 years it has been since we met.

Will I ever meet another Bulltrout in the Teanaway River? Will my grand kids meet any trout in the Teanaway River? Will the community forest that hugs the riverbanks become a desolate dried up place that no one cares about anymore? Will Wild Steelhead ever return? Will the wild trout have a place to reproduce and carry on their life cycle? The fact that I am asking myself, and others, these questions leaves me with hope. Hope that it will return, hope that it will be rescued, hope…because the Teanaway River…is a life force; born from granite mountains and winter snows, cut deep into the hard stone, life teeming within and all around her, Mount Stuart standing guard, and people enjoying all that she bares while keeping a caring eye on her.

Tamarack

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What is a Trout Worth?

  

Those who I have the pleasure of taking riverside to chase trout with know, my passion for wild fish, especially wild westslope cutthroat trout, runs very deep…to use the cliche’. I am at home, gliding along the currents, down the seams, through the runs, and around the back eddies of my glorious homewater the Yakima River. My oar strokes sharp and firm, my boat responsive, a sweet drift, a fish rising, the sound of a reel zinging, a smiling face, an ecstatic guide, a beautiful trout for all of us to share a moment with, and a quick and wet release…so that tomorrows’ clients have a shot at it and its offsrping.  

I guide because these trout need our attention. In my experience with the outdoors the only way people will ever care about it, protect it, conserve it, is if they are able to enjoy it. It is our first and most ancient form of entertainment and enjoyment. It is our playground, this planet we take for granted is ours, we are in charge. We are responsible for it. For me I take responsibility for the Yakima River and the wild trouts within her. For others it may be mountains, trails, bears, spotted owls, wild steelhead, salmon runs, old growth forests, deserts, lakes, you name it the outdoors has something for everyone to care about and enjoy. Its how we connect with the world we live in. The real world, not the smartphones, and netflix. Not facbook, and the reality TV. We connect with nature, hell there are even studies showing time in the outdoors is healthy for us.

From seeing a bald eagle for the first time, a big horn sheep, a wild trout, or even a lonely kingfisher, there is a myriad of natural things to enjoy and be entertained with when drifting the river. Its not always about the trout. Sometimes for me I just enjoy rowing the river and moving my boat around the seams and currents, playing with the river if you will. And sometimes I find new ways to fish, new angles, things I didn’t notice or quite see before. I have had trips this season that have very little fishing involved. More discussion and education. Others that were intense days of targeting trout and bringing them to net and enjoying every completely F’ing awesome second of it. That moment with that trout…instills something in every angler…if I do my job right. It also instills something in me every time I reach my net into the river. 

We are at a crossroads with our river. The drought is killing fish, and damaging the ecosystems that we hold so dearly, at a record pace. Sturgeon and Salmon are dying in the mighty Columbia, tributaries are boiling or drying up. Fish are dying…a lot more will die. The Yakima River is one of the only rivers in the west surviving the drought. The trout that we cherish and enjoy angling for, are our responsibility. We trick them with flies, we release them, we continue to invade their natural world, we owe them the coutesy of taking every effort to care for them as if they were our children. Our river is barely hanging on and our fish are on the line people. We must treat our trout with the utmost respect this season. From the 6 inch dinker to the 24 inch hogzilla. Keep these trout wet.  

Is a fish worth a photo? Because that photo may be its tombstone. It may be the last time anyone ever sees that fish. Think about that this season. I am heart broken that I witnessed the death of a prime Yakima River specimen in the Lower Canyon last night. Even doing everything right the fish was over stressed before we even accidently hooked him. Watching a wild trout go belly up and knowing that I was the cause even though I did everything right in that situation was detrimental for me. In 10 years I have had now…4 bad releases on trout. One dinosaur that did not survive the fight in the company of two seasoned guides that did everything they could to revive the trout. Two to deep hooks, and one…to warm water, over angling pressure, and one last drift of the fly. It happens, its part of the gig. You learn, you educate, and you move on and become a better angler.  

These wild trout are precious to us. They are precious to me, and my family. I make my living off of them. I want to continue to do that for years to come, so that one day I can float with my grandchildren down this river and net cutthroat and rainbow trout and share moments with them all. I make my living off of them so that I can continue to protect and care for them.  

Without the trips I take people on and get paid for, I would be unable to continue donating what seems like every minute of my time to them. When my boat pulls into my driveway after rowing 8 hours, I come in, talk about trout with my lady and children, even my dog. I tie flies for the next round, I think about how to better dress a fly to produce more fish in the net for clients. I think about hatches, and compare them to previous years, the weather, the flows, the temps, the stress I am putting on them. Did I just float that section? Yes, so I should swtich it up. Give fish a break. All of that and more run through my mind when I get off river. Somehow in between it all I find time to be a dad and husband, play video games with my son, hang out with my toddler, and listen to my eldest tell stories and watch nerdy movies with. Plus I fish on my own…a lot. Without my clients I would be unable to attend clean ups, take samples of algae, snorkel the river to check on fish, hike into the headwaters and take water temps, remove rock dams, save dying fish, educate other anglers and guides, introduce people to new places, attend meetings about conservation, count fish, the list goes on and on….

I love every damn minute of it people. EVERY MINUTE. I love my life and the type of lifestyle being a guide graces me with. My family does too. My minions look forward to doing shuttles with me in the upper river. They ask me about my fish. They noticed I was upset about a bad trip I had yesterday and we discussed warm water, fish handling, and why these trout need our care. They are 6 and 8 years old, people. They get it. They comprehend it. They appreciate what I do for a living and undesrtand that without proper care and protection they may not be able to fish like dad in the future.  

I have received a lot of heartwarming praise the past few days. I have been called a headwaters hero by people I respect and admire as anglers and people. I have fought for these trout this year and it has brought me heartache and grief, and absolute happiness. The efforts of a few can influence many, and diligence and determination win out. I have the patience of a seasoned fly angler and to date, nothing deters me when it comes to my trouts.  

I applaud the individuals that are making the effort to protect and conserve this watershed. I have to praise Joe Rotter and Red’s Fly Shop for their proactive approach to these warm water drought conditions with a voluntary Hoot Owl for their guide service in the Lower Canyon. This type of action is the management we as guides and stewards for the Yakima River and her Trout can be a part of as a community of anglers. No matter if you work for an outfitter, shop, are an independent, we all can agree that protecting this watershed should always be part of our job. We are doing the right thing with our river and I encourage all anglers that visit the Yakima River to care for our trout and use good angling and fish handling techniques. Voluntarily engage in the Hoot Owl hours and do not fish the Lower Canyon after 2 pm until water temps and conditions change. Take a guide and fish with them and learn about the river and what is going on. Fish for the trout, for the love of all that is holy fish for the trout! A guide like myself, will make sure that when we fish, I am giving not only you, but also the trout, the best experience I possibly can.  

I will continue to run trips on the Yakima River to chase these trout as long as conditions allow. Most floats that are scheuled will be in the early morning until the fall. We do not fish water that is 65 degrees and up in my boat. 68 or 70 may be the cutoff for others and that is within the scientific ranges to be safe. Professionally and personally, 65 is my limit.  

I also ask anglers to be open to other angling ideas. Bass fishing or other species of fish on the fly can be incredibly fun and challenging. I will be offering $375.00 Guided Bass Trips for the remainder of the season. I’m pretty good at tricking some of those greasy bucket and small mouths. Carp and trout lakes too. Even some musky hanging around the basin that we could go for.  

I also call on the Dept. of Agriculture, and especially the Forest Service, to begin considering opening guiding via special use permits to lakes and rivers in the National Forest Service Land for next year. To relieve pressure on our Yakima River and to bring more people to our natural places to recreate, spend money, and conserve, we need professional guides like myself, to facilitate those moments of inspiration and wonder that we all search for when we answer the call of the outdoors.

Thank you to all that have contaced me and thanked me, to those that inspire me, to every single one of my clients this season. Every one has learned about the conditions we are facing and the work we are doing as a fly fishing community here to protect our river. Thank you for taking trips with me and allowing me to continue doing what I do here. I look forward to fishing with many more this season and for many seasons after.

For the love of the trouts,
Tamarack

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Epic Moments are just as good as Epic Trouts

A few posts back I wrote about a young man who I had the pleasure of meeting riverside while hefting a bloody motorcylcle out of the river.  The Kid, casting like a Champion, in winter, chasing trout.  Crazy dude.  

It was my pleasure once again to have The Kid and his Uncle riverside this week.  I had fished the day before and had a wonderful day of mayfly dryfly fishing and was hoping for the same.  The river had other plans for us but more on the later.

I enjoy taking people out on the river more than most things.  I have this desire and passion I must fullfill.  Sharing the outdoors and moments with trout and anglers is a driving force for me and gives me purpose.  It is something that I am happy to be completely immersed in now, much like when I spent more time in the woods than not.  

We floated the Upper Yakima Canyon and we had a slow day.  A big drop in water temps from the previous day due to low overnight temps made for slow fish.  The sun also shone brightly and the Osprey were out.  The dreaded W also…did not help.  But that is how chasing trout goes sometimes.  We saw a few fish.  The Kid was bestowed a few new nicknames all of which are hilarous and have been bestowed on many anglers including myself.  The Whitefish Whisperer, Fast Water Fighter, Champion Caster, Back Seat Driftboat Huslter.  Those are a few.  Anchor Line Tangler is a good one too.  

While his Uncle and I talked and we floated, The Kid hung out in the back seat, just slipping casts all over the river… Like a Freaking Champion!  I didn’t even have to tell this dude where to put the fly, he knew.  The lesson and his independent study shows in his ablity to read water and instinctively know when and where to put the bug.  I would look back and his indicator would be right on line, then he’d pick up, give it a quick flick, and BAM back on target below a log, or a boulder.  Tight loops for the wind too. He was snaking water from his uncle, coming in behind the frontman’s fly poaching water like a guide would.  His uncle would hit a good line, and The Kid would flick his cast that much closer,  right on target, just money.  All day long I’m telling myself, “Damn its nice to have good rhythm.” 

I like my life the speed of a driftboat interrupted by chaotic moments of pure awesomeness and happiness.  Its a simple, dirtbaggy way to live, but my lady and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  When I am literally going driftboat speed with interruptions by trout, life is that much sweeter with two fly rods flicking through the air while I row down the line.  Nothing better than a driftboat riverside.  

Casting on the shelf.

While the day went by slow in terms of trout, everything else was about perfect when I think about a river float.  We were coming to the end and I had all but given up and was haphazardly holding a lazy line along the diversion above Tanuem.  

I may have mentioned to The Kid to hit the seam as we came down but he had already picked his line.  We moved near the rocks, I see out of the corner of my eye; The Kid bomb a wicked sweet cast into the seam just above the diversion line of boulders.  I look down river and put on the breaks with a few good pulls on the sticks.  

I look back and The Kid’s line goes tight and we both think its a rock and he yanks on it to set it free…holy…shiznat!  It wasn’t a rock…  The line goes tight, the fish pulls…its on.  

The Kid is on his game right from the get go once he realizes its a trout.  And I mean a trout.  Of course this fish tries to school the young angler.  It heads for the rocks with full force.  Take into account the current is pretty good here and we are moving down stream and looking back upriver at this trout now. Like a trout that has been played before, the indicator goes between two rocks and this is the instancne I wince, and everything goes silent.  The Kid lifts his rod tip high, I swear he was on his tip toes in the back of the boat.  We both watch, him in amazement, me in horror, as this trout goes into the boulders.  Then we see it…I thought it was steel at first, this raibow colored slab rolls down the rock into the fast current and runs down river…stealing line, running like it robbed a bank.  I tell The Kid to let it run but keep tension.  (I knew he had 4X on so I intended for him to play this fish like a mother f’ing boss!)  He did too.  From the back of the driftboat The Kid out Hustles this wily trout in the fast water…Fast Water Trout Hustler.  

As all this is happening, as a guide, I am looking at how we are going to land this fish.  It’s the best of the day, at the the end of the float, and its F’ing Decent!  I find a soft spot on the edge of the current just large enought for the boat.  Its fast and deep, but I can make it work.  Like tucking behind boulders landing big fish in fastwater up river.  We go across the current, I slide in, couple crab strokes, like freaking butter, just a wicked job if I do say so myself.  

The Kid is still playing this fish which is now headed back upstream in the faster water.  Exactly what we wanted it do to.  Play em hard, get em in, and put em back.  This entire process lasted mere minutes in reality.  In one aweome guide moment, I drop the hook, hop out of the boat into thigh deep water with current, grab the net and get to work.  The water is fast, the boat is held and we have a small seam of slower water to get this done in.  Its perfect.  As a guide and an angler its nirvana, dude.  

I am reveling in the moment unfolding and cannot wait to see if we can meet this trout.  It sees the net and runs, pulling line out.  I yell, “Let it go!” “Rod Tip Out!” as I motion for The Kid to keep the rod at an angle.  His Uncle is just as excited and coaching him perfectly as I move into position.  The trout comes close, I reach for it and it runs down just out of reach, headed for a pile of junk just below.  “Rod Tip UP!”  “Try and get the head up!”  The fish turns back towards the boat and moves for me.  I get out of the way, I can hear The Kid and all his enthusiasm.  Its wicked cool.  The trout tries to go under the boat.  I duck under the line and scoop the trout into the net just in front of the boat avoiding disaster.  The chaos only builds!  Its a wonderfully bright, post spawn, leapord spotted, rainbow.  Hefty trout, not the longest trout at around 18 inches but fat and full of newly invigorated muscle from chowing down after the spawn.  

Wild Trout Chased and Tricked

The Kid hops out, I know exactly how he feels.  The fish took the Dirty Batman Prince I tied up…Double Awesome!!  Right in the corner of the mouth.  Fly slipped right out with a twist.  We held it in the net in the water to let it recover for a few moments, the water was fast and cold so I knew we were good.  The trout was still thrashing angrily in the net, when The Kid prepped for the release.  Just a healthy Wild Yakima Rainbow.  The Kid had a great wet release, handling the fish with respect and finesse.  The fish sped back into the fastwater, a wonderful end to the moment.  To top it off another guide boat drifted by as the high five was happening and they were just above us listening in on all the awseomeness.  (Back Seat Driftboat Huslter).  Living in the moment.  Living in the life. Epic Moment, and Epic Trout.  Both for angler, and for guide.  

Its the stuff I live for.  That moment when I get to share the world I live in everyday.  Not a day goes by I don’t think about trouts.  It’s a slower world, a simplier one, a river world, a world where wild fish take flies.  Where anglers and trout test one another through river, rod, fly, and cast.  I am still jacked about it dude.  Just thinking about it makes me want more of it.  To chase these trout.  To net the fish.  I get to introduce anglers and trout and its my life!  I get to teach people why its important we have these wild fish, why the trout and the rivers that hold them deserve respect, how sharing in these moments makes us want to keep having them for years to come, and be able to share with all who are willing.  I also forgot to mention how much damn fun it is.  I mean really…its pure fun.  

Driftboat speed with choatic interruptions from wild trout, while being riverside, with anglers.  Fly Angler Life…Abide.  See ya riverside dudes.

Tamarack

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A few thoughts on tying flies and pattern selection for the wary quarry. 

store and hand tied



I used to buy flies like a crazy person. I love flies, I would buy a few take them home, tie some that looked identical, and go fish. It’s how I learned a lot of stuff about tying and composition. Deconstructing and recreating fly patterns is how you develop your own as a tier a lot of the time.  

As I delved deeper into tying and studied more literature, trout biology, and listened to my mentors about flies, I began to buy flies less, and tie more. I found myself tying flies that seemed dull and dreary compared to the ones in the bins at the local fly shop. The more I tied with my mentor and worked on patterns and skills with him the more I understood what made a good fly. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, the flies you pick from the bin is totally awesome and it’s gonna work. If you get all the other pieces of the fly fishing puzzle to fit into place that fly is gonna catch the majority of fish in the river just fine. I just found that more and more the flies that manufacturers were churning out we’re getting more colorful, flashier, larger, filled with foam, and Krystal Flash, just Lady Gaga playing Las Vegas looking patterns. 

Did trout suddenly start wanting glitzy looking flies hanging out of their mouths as you fondle them trying to get a good release?  No…probably not. Trout…want insects. Not flies. So why do flies seem to be looking less and less like bugs and more and more like pieces of bloody jewelry for trout to wear for pictures? 

Well tying at that level is commercial and flies are easier to sell when they catch an anglers attention.  Problem is, flies are for trout not anglers. Trout only care about a few things in terms of flies. The better it resembles the natural, the more productive it should be….I mean that just makes sense. Both common sense wise and in terms of biology and science. There is a science behind flies and insect imitation. 

Certain materials mimic natural actions of insects such as angora goat and its ability to create a breathing undulating look even at the smallest level. Which lets face it, a trout is looking at little bugs with eyes designed to look at them under water. As a tier, it would be in my best interest, to tie flies that look as close to the natural as possible, maybe not exactly but imitating those key things that trout key in on instinctually is foremost in my mind when at the vise. 

Color, shape, size, profile. All important. But what about the way Caddis create an air bubble that sparkles under water, a factor trout key in on. Well throw on some Antron and you are good to go.  (By the way, Thanks LaFontaine for making Caddis fishing much more productive through your study of trout!).  There are lots of things to consider and even more material to use to mimic all sorts of things that trout key in on in relation to each pattern and natural. 

Patterns today, for me, seem to have lost a bit of that. Sure a bright orange stimulator with flash out the ass, and big sparkly legs is gonna catch fish, it looks right.  For me though, too many times in my ten year of fishing on the river here; I watch large trouts refuse flies of the store bought nature. Finicky trout are impressive really. A quarry that strikes me two fold: as an angler and a tier. Can I tie a pattern that can trick such a fish?  Because, if all the other parts click into place from cast to drift to proper tippet length, and the trout refuses, what else is there but the single most important thing you need in order to trick said trout with a fly rod in the first place?  

The Fly. 

Fly tying is an art, and the art for the trout chaser such as myself, is in the ability to tie effective flies that trick the most leery of trout. I have spent seasons testing flies. Searching for those finicky trout and testing my patterns.   Hitting hatches with handfuls of different patterns and seeing which ones work best and developing more from there. It’s some of the most fun for me in terms of angling. Having a trout be tricked by a dry or nymph pattern I have tied is that pure moment I yearn for. Some anglers it’s the perfect cast before the hookup, some dudes it’s the big fish, others it’s the perfect Snap T, the perfect take, whatever it is it’s awesome. For me it’s tricking a wary trout with a fly no one else has. The fish that no one has caught, the fish that every one tries for, big or small, I wanna trick it with my fly.  Ya man, that’s my jam. 

Tying used to be a necessity as there was no where to get flies unless you knew a tier.  There are troves of literature and journals on flies from all over the life of modern fly fishing. Going back and finding that many patterns that were the most effective were simple, subtle, and more natural looking. It wasn’t so much about selling flies as it was discovering what made up a good fly and why?  It was about tricking fish.  Guides and writers would sell flies to go fishing and fly shops would buy them until the sport got so big it required mass production of flies.  A little bit of the art of tying died or kind of faded away. 

For me, when I browse the bins at the fly shop I typically end up buying nothing. I just never find anything that stands out to me and I feel that the flies in the bin aren’t going to trick that persnickety trout. They will trick the other trout just fine but that’s not my mindset when angling as much. It’s less about tricking lots of fish and more about tricking those fish that stand out. The one 14 inch cutt that isn’t slashing the surface like all the others. The one sipping instead, maybe it’s been caught before, maybe it has some cool marking, maybe it’s bigger than I thought?  Doesn’t matter, it’s in the zone refusing flies left and right. Let’s see if one of these patterns will trick him?  That’s what goes through my mind when looking for or tying flies. 

When you look for flies at the shop, look for subtle, smaller patterns. Yes a salmon fly dry is a size 6 but when you cram a bunch of foam and flash on a size 8 4X long hook so you can fit all that crap, the fly is huge to the trout. A size smaller is typically a better idea when looking for flies for the larger insects. Look for buggy flies, both nymphs and for dries, but especially nymphs.  A Pats Stone will catch fish and I’ve even got big old steel on it, but for that trout hiding behind the boulder that flashes but won’t eat shit…ya smaller buggier bug, that’s gonna give you a better chance. I test myself on this every time I fish. Especially when working on patterns and fine tuning fly composition and material selection. 

So, if you seem to be having trouble with fly selection and trout not taking your flies, think about what you are throwing and how it looks to the trout in comparison to the natural. If you are unsure, find a trout nerd and ask them. 

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The Benefits of a Blog

A favorite for many anglers.

The blog may not be for everyone. In reality the Internet just isn’t good for some people.  It has had an incredible impact on the sport and art of fly fishing. Some positive some not so much but that could be applied to just about anything.

In the days of old, anglers would write journals and newsletters to their fishing club to communicate and promote the culture and sport.  Short stories, books, pamphlets, scientific studies, fly pattern recipes and techniques used to be passed along between a small tight group that spanned from the high Catskills areas of the north east, all the way to the Washington and Oregon coast with a heavy emphasis in Montana of course.

As far back as the early 20’s there are articles and writings about fly fishing.  A wealth of knowledge and insight is there for the hungry angler.  Those that have taken the time to unglue their eye holes from Kamchatka videos, and trophy brown trout in New Zealand stumble on a history filled with just incredible stuff.  I’m super guilty with New Zealand videos.  I do like when I find short videos the are actual pieces of artistic film too, those are just as much of a surprise and treat as good writings.

Any angler that has spent time reading the literature of this wonderful sport will tell you that it was and is a huge part of the culture.  To write and describe the days on the river goes rod in hand with fly angling.  In today’s fast paced world of instagram photos, 155 character posts, and lightly detailed fishing reports there is a part of what makes fly angling special missing at times.  At least for me and many others that I share this sport with.

While some may get bored reading posts about fishing stories, even ones that are filled with trouty information, there was a time that reading…from guides, tiers, writers, conservationists, and trout bums, was the only way to get information, news, new patterns, techniques, secret fishing holes, and just about anything fly fishing related. Published magazines and journals, large networks of fly fishing clubs with members across the country sharing newsletters and writings through the club; all of these were the staple for gaining knowledge and insight into the sport.

Nowadays, those things have changed, blogs, twitter feeds, facebook posts and websites are how we gain info.  Which is really cool, trust me I love tech!  What I love about blogging is it allows the passionate fly angler who happens to enjoy writing and sharing things, a new age avenue to do an old school thing.  As the season begins this spring, the major benefit of a quick to publish blog is river reports.  Now a quick photo post or a short few paragraphs will be the normal thing as there is less time for writing, because of…fishing.  But there can be troves of information and tools for the angler hidden with the “foofy” words that some anglers use to promote the sport.  Writing is an art form in itself and I learned a lot about this sport through the literature.  I identify with those artful passages from equally artful tiers and anglers.  Its nice to slow down, have a read, and learn something, or just enjoy a good fishing story, or maybe be inspired to fish somewhere or with someone.

Some who fly fish may not be into it, and that’s okay, we are all fly fishing for our own reasons and express our passion in our own ways.  I have found that over time, there is more to just being on the river. For some anglers it “clicks” early, others it takes time to develop, and for some, fly angling is just an enjoyable hobby to do from time to time. We are all angling and that’s pretty wicked.  Part of the culture of this sport is learning and talking with people in the shops or riverside and hearing about their story, their journey down the river.

What I always look for when reading river reports or looking for information is the stuff that isn’t just, the flies used, temps of water, where the fish were, and how many were caught.  That’s great and all, and when you are trying to sell trips in this age of the simplest information at the fastest speed possible to the public, it works really well.

When I stumble upon a report or blog that goes the extra mile its like having a surprise hook up on the river when you are sleeping on the drift.  Something that talks about the sounds heard, the sights seen, the intricate way the fly bobbed along the water before being hoovered. Or the eagle circling above that is watching the same fish you are. The elk that bugles in late fall and wakes up the river in the morning. That troutnerdy stuff.  Those are the blogs and posts that grab my attention. Ones that, as I read them, make me feel like I am there, ones that inspire me to find a similar moment on my homewater. Those are the websites and places I frequent.  Those are the people that I connect with over the ‘webasphere’ and its a neat thing to be able to share passions and stories with others like the old days, in the new age.

So for those anglers that share in the delight of reading something more than just a quick report I can dig it.  Passion, makes everything better, passion in life and in angling.  There is never anything wrong with reading, and fly fishing has a long history of great literature to go along with it.  I always tell people to read, read, read.  That’s what off seasons and off days are for. Reading and tying.

Do I hope that one of my posts inspires an angler to come fish with me. Of course, but I would write anyway.  Its fun, and the above mentioned hope has already become a reality for me personally, with people that are inspired and want to share moments with trout and me.  Its a cool thing, to have people want to fish with you.  Granted I enjoy solitude very much but there is a time for angling solo and a time for angling with others.  The trick is to find other passionate anglers that dig it as much as you do, those are the ones that make those riverside days that much more memorable.

Its not always about the trout when it comes to fly fishing.

Tamarack

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Click



Click, click, clickity, click click…click.  Send.  Next email.  Click, click clickity, click, click….click.  

The clicking hypnotizes me into the drone like state of work, work, work.  The phone rings, a high toned beeping sound that seems to never leave, I swear I can hear the phone ringing even when there is no phone.

Click, click, clickity, click click….click.

Ding, another email, Beep, another voicemail, ping…a new text message.  Clikcity, ding, beep, ping….click.  

A drone…is that what I have become? A slave to the paycheck, working for someone else, the people, always with the people drowning me in noise and clicks, pings, and dings.

Click…Click…Click…

I need to escape.  To find a sanctuary.  A place to recharge.  All the clicking seems to put me off, make me feel uncomfortable, something not quite right.  Too much, its time for a break.

Its quiet now.  Within the river’s embrace.  The sound of the freeway is drowned out by the rapid above me.  Only a mile or so upriver and I have found sanctuary.  A wooded, misty, sanctuary, filled with life and silence.  The moss sops, drenched from the light spring rain, under my feet as I follow a game trail through the trees and underbrush.  A tuft of Elk hair hanging on a low branch catches my eye.  I pull the hair from the stick…would be just enough for a dancing caddis dry.  I continue through the woods.  I can hear geese overhead, and the sound of birds dancing and bathing in the light rain.  The sound of raindrops on dry leaves…pip, pip, pip pip pip.

The woods open to a high bank and the river turns a dark shade of green below me.  I find a place to cross upstream, the river cold, clear, and crisp.  I wet my hands and shudder against the coolness.  A duck startles upriver as I make my way across the current.

The rain falls slightly, its faint sound filling the silence…dip dip dip dip dip.  I find a tree and rest beneath its branches and enjoy a smoke while watching the river.  I wait for the rain cloud to pass, enjoying the lack of people, and noise.

The river invites me as the rain ceases.  A few casts are unproductive and I work my way upriver.  

A trout rises…

The rod moves through the air taking the line with it…swiff, swiff, swiff.  The guides sing as the cast delivers…zzzing.  The line extends, a breath is released, and the fly lands in position.  

The world is silent.

(There are no people.  Just me…the river…and this elusive trout.  There is no phone ringing, no email dinging, no phone beeping, there is no click, click, clickity, click click…Click.)  

My vision tunnels.  The fly weaves and bobs along the seam.  Time…seems…to slow.  

I see a flash from underneath, a shape rise to the surface, a snout breaks the surface, and the fly disapaears in the fray…

CLICK!

I hear an actual “CLICK” in my head.  I feel something within me Click…into place.  My fly rod bends, the fish introduces itself with a headshake, and the moment begins.  The world returns to my senses, the sound of birds in the trees, the rapids below, the trout slashing the water, and the sound of my reel…

click, click, click….

I release the trout, the moment passed now.  It is as if I am re-aligned, or put right…everything has…clicked…back into place.  

When I leave my sanctuary, the noise of the world returns.  The clicking is that of a keyboard and not of my reel.

Click, Click, Click.

Tamarack