Halfway….just about.

We are roughly 8 weeks or so into the off season.  Or the midpoint. In 8 weeks I will start to get a lot more fishy.  The boat comes back out regularly. I am riverside 4 plus days a week, plugging back in, and getting prepped for the guide season. 

This off season has been shit.  However, I will say lockdowns and quarantine have made cabin fever easy to bare. Broke as hell but honestly that’s not new being a troutbum and all. My previous blog post made it out like I was at this shit alone and I am not. I’ve have someone through it all, its private not a secret. But I have been good off river life wise, all things considered. Not seeing my kids has been the shittiest part.

I got a lot of comments and messages after that cranky blog. It was more venting the frustration and exhaustion. And instead of unload it on others who have their own trials and struggles right now….just throw it up and let the internet eat it. The biggest frustrations are work related. And there ain’t shit to be done until the new season at this point. Just stuck until the thaw.

Its the halfway point and usually I would feel this cabin fever riddled drive to be out. But 2020 sucked most of that out. I sleep. A lot. 10 to 12 hours some days. Hibernating like most other off seasons. But its quieter during the pandemic. And the exhaustion has taken its toll. And you can sleep through things that otherwise cause stress that cannot be fixed until the world gets right. So much outta my hands at this point. Sleep now work later. Or something like that.

While overlords argue about 600 bucks and cake, I just wanna make sure that I keep the internet on so I don’t have to sit with only books and flies until March. At this point the only thing that seems to fix shit is ourselves. So I get to wait until I can fix it the only way I know how…with trout and a boat. Thankfully we are in this together and there is help there. Its not all bad…its just sucks in general.

The midpoint of the offseason is usually a harder hurdle. Just not this season. I am in a hell of a hurry to get back to it in 2021. With a recovery plan in place for my business from the first trip to the last of next season. I don’t have a lot of faith in a national or even state economic recovery plan as this will be my third economic event in my life. Many of us are gonna have to get creative with making up the deficit of 2020. If trying to get relief during this shitshow is any indication….ya…its gonna be by our own bootstraps and on a community and local level. So getting the mind around what that might look like is essential moving forward.

The trout and the rowing take care of themselves at this point in my guiding. The nuts and bolts of the operation…troot and people….that shit is locked and I’ve worked very hard to get there. This pandemic changes how the business side looks. And with the surge in social media and its necessity for success in the 21st century business model driving a lot of what makes or breaks you…2021 is going to be a busy year to say the least.

So ya, I’ll sleep through a lot of the offseason. Because I can. Normally my body needs it but I think my mind needs it more this year. I’ll share time with the few people I can. I will prep for the offseason, and hold out like the rest of us. Still living day to day and week to week, still worried, but ready to move forward.

So ya, chill out. We all allowed to get mad bruh. Vent, sleep, try and see the good shit…watch Mandolarian…holy fuck! I mean we are all friggin’ stuck and its not like the headlines are making us feel any less stuck. So ya. Get ready for 2021…see if we can do a little better….(shy unenthusiastic yay, from the crowd). Fingers crossed. Let the countdown to trout begin.

Tamarack

January Sun

2015/01/img_2225.jpg

Hit the river for the day. I tied a few flies this morning and hit the river around 10:30 ish. The fog was just starting to burn off when I got to the first spot on the upper river. The flows were up from the shot of rain and snow we got so wading was tough but I managed to fish a few good looking places before moving on. The river was too swollen near Three Bridges for me to try my luck at a few of my favorite winter fishing spots up and down river of there.

I decided to head back into town and hit my old friend the Cle Elum. This river never ceases to amaze me. I hiked upriver today to a spot I haven’t visited in a while. I remember hiking the banks on a early summer day after they start to back the flows off from the dam above. There is a great drake hatch and some of the most perfect looking water I have seen on a river hidden up in the trees. The only way to access it is to walk it or float it and you have to walk a bit so not a lot of people fish it.

The sun was burning off the left over water still clinging to the rocks, moss, and trees when I stripped out enough line for a proper cast. The section I was standing below is where the river narrows between some log jams. There is a deep trough, a shelf, and a large deep eddy on the river right side. A nice 30 foot cast to the top of the trough along the seam between the slow and fast water dropped. Another 30 or so dropped before I finally hooked a fish.

The sunlight was shining brightly through the trees. It hit the water and lit up the mossy and algae covered stones below. Midges flew from the surface of the water and congregated along the edges of the river near still water between the pebbles and rocks. I could see a shape holding in the seam. It flashed. My excitement grew almost uncontainable. I cast far up river, knowing there were probably other fish in the hole. I finally got a proper drift through the cross currents while trying not to spook the fish that was still flashing and feeding below. I did not want to miss my opportunity as the sun could be off the surface at any moment and all could be lost.

2015/01/img_2218.jpg

My indicator shot down and I set the hook with a high stick and a pull on the slack line. The fish hung in the fast water and shook slightly. I thought for sure it was a bloddy white fish but as I worked the fish into the slow water near me it spooked and woke up. It took line out with a slow hard pull and went deep. Then the head shaking came and I thought I was going to loose the fish since it was on the bottom size 16 zebra midge. One roll without tension and its over dude. My Winston bent and arced and vibrated as the fish tried to move into deeper water below me.

The trout took too much time in the fast water and I was patient. The beating the river gave me last week I was determined to do this correctly. The fish admitted he had been outsmarted and I pulled him into my nets embrace.

2015/01/img_2219.jpg

A beautiful Rainbow Trout. Bigger than I thought as well. A delightful surprise. I did not measure but a proper 16 inches of healthy wild rainbow would have been my guess. A hefty fish as well. The water was bitter cold so I kept it in the net as not to shock it too bad. I took my flies from the trouts jaw, had my moment that I have been longing for all winter long, and released it from the net. I gave the tail a light touch and the trout darted back into the deep water on the other side of the river.

Content. The river only graced me with one trout today. I only fished for just over an hour and spent most of it walking upriver. I saw several trout working the midges underneath but they were easily spooked being in the sunlit water. Sometimes, especially in winter fishing, one is all you get.

I will be floating the upper river tomorrow and we shall see if she will give up a few more for a moment or two.

Tamarack