Fall kings

How I Refill My Cup

 

 

I spent an entire year preparing for the last 2 weeks of my life. A time of my life that I look forward to starting from the time it ends. Jeff and I started hunting 3 years ago and how I lived my entire life without it, I have no idea – much like fishing. We spend 2 weeks every September camped up in the mountains with his best friend in search of ourselves and elk. This year has been rough for me with studying for my CPA. I can’t explain how much more horrible studying is than going to school, but trust me, I’m a different person because of this (and not for the better) and it will probably take me years to become the original person that I was after the pressure and stress of my CPA are long gone. I needed this elk trip more than I even knew.

I was hesitant about going because it’s 2 weeks with no service and I literally hunt from before the sun comes up to when the sun goes down…….how can I take 2 weeks off from studying? Well, I did and it was AMAZING. In addition to hunting, I watched my best friend get married on opening day and finished my vacation with a trip to the river. My cup is overflowing with gratitude and peace. My relationship with God is stronger than ever and I don’t really care today that studying hasn’t been the number one thing on my mind and for a brief moment, it wasn’t the most important thing in my life.

I struggled this hunting season with many things and while I came home reborn, it took a few days of depression and regret to get there. I learn every year that without the bad, there is no good; without the rain, the sun doesn’t feel so good; without the devil, you don’t see how great God is. I headed up the mountain on day 2 of the season and Jeff got one down that morning. There was excitement both for his accomplishment and because we will eat this year! But there was jealousy and pressure to keep up with my teammate. Hunting brings out some of my greatest fears: heights, my lack of strength, the dark, scary animals, being lost, car accidents, and myself. I stayed on the ground although our greatest opportunity was tree stands 30ft up. After 5 days and an insane amount of pressure, I finally caved and admitted that to get close enough to an elk this archery season, I was going to need to climb a tree…….And I DID IT! I got myself up there in the dark and hunted several stands over a few days. I wasn’t given the opportunity, but the feeling of accomplishing my fears is what put the last drop in my cup. I felt like a million dollars! It wasn’t easy and I was exhausted, mentally, physically, and emotionally. My body ached from the adrenaline all day long, my mind was tired from talking myself through sitting there all day long despite the wind or creeks, and I was emotionally drained from going from such a negative space to such a positive one.

         

I ended the season back on the ground and without an animal, but what I accomplished and came home with was worth far more than a few hundred pounds of meat (of course because we’ll come home with that anyways).

Now, for what you guys really care about! I spent a day cleaning and unpacking and then went fishing!!!!! FINALLY, back on the water! It was a SLOW morning and I hadn’t seen a single fish hooked or a bobber down and it was 2 pm. Finally, my float goes down! I set the hook and my line wraps around the tip of my rod as I feel the pulse of a fish on the other end. CRAP! As I’m trying to twist and turn my rod before the tip breaks, I’m certain the fish will lose itself. And I start to reel, I feel the weight again. WHAT?! This little king whooped my behind taking several long runs to the snags and 3 leaps out of the water. We finally got it in the net and just when I thought I couldn’t be more full, I began overflowing with happiness. My life is complete in this very moment.

I was just telling my mom the day before that this year, fishing has almost been more stress than relief. Because I didn’t get to go as much, I had less opportunity which meant less fish caught. I grew jealous of those that got to fish all the time like I used to and even more jealous when they would have good fish days. Getting up early wasn’t worth it if I wasn’t going to catch fish and I started only going when conditions were in my favor. Without the reward of the catch, I wasn’t getting what I needed anymore and the pressures of knowing that I could be studying weighed so heavy on my mind that it wasn’t worth it.

But today, it would have been worth it either way and now it was REALLY worth it. I got one! The only one so far! We still had many miles of water left and the tide was changing to our advantage. We ended up filling the boat within another hour and were out! So happy. So full. So peaceful. So grateful – for life.

Today, I opted out of deer hunting to sleep in, clean my house, and blog and while I regret it a little bit, I’ll also study so it’s a nice way to ease back into my regular schedule and pressure to study. I’m back but I’m rejuvenated and feeling ready to take on my next exam!

This one’s for the girls

First, for those here for a report on the Skok: Fishing was great at first light, not that great the rest of the day, including the evening. Not many people on the river being that it was float only, warden’s are out looking for those trying to snag with a float. Wet eggs were best, after first light, try a lot of different scents to pick through the biters.

Now for the rest of the weekend:

I met the most amazing little girl this weekend! Her name is Emerald and she is 8 years old. She is visiting Washington with her family for the summer but is originally from Texas and is growing up with almost unlimited exposure to all things outdoors. The first words she said to me were “I caught my first salmon yesterday!” and I knew that she was basically the coolest girl ever when I agreed to see it (expecting a picture) and she brought me the entire pink salmon and she told me exactly how she caught it.

Jeff met her father, Michael, this spring while shrimping in Hood Canal. He expressed his enjoyment for fishing and hunting but being that he lives in Texas, he didn’t know much about the fishing up here. Jeff has been talking to him for a few months and got him set up with a couple new rods so that he could fish the Skokomish river when it opened (this weekend).

I took Michael out and of course, he was a natural and needed very little assistance, but Emerald was devastated to find out that she couldn’t join us because we would be wading and walking all over the river. :(

The next day, Michael was the second person in our group to limit out (like I said, a natural) and I got to hang out with Emerald for a couple hours that afternoon. She watched us teach her dad how to cure eggs and then rig the rods back up. She said her dad was “all fished out” but she really wanted to go so she invited me humpy fishing at Hoodsport. I wasn’t sure that she actually had a plan, so I thought I would take her down to the river and fish from the bank where it was fairly safe.

But first, I had to get my daily archery practice in. She, of course, came over to watch and I was surprised to learn that she too was an archery shooter! Her first ever arrow and she hit the target!

We head down to the river while her parents enjoy a few hours of relaxation and fun in The Hood. She sat close to me and while I tried to keep her out of the eggs for the fear of her clothes getting too messy, she wasn’t having any of it. She helped me pick out bait, learned about sandshrimp and different scents, got to watch the salmon in the river, and even made a few casts herself!

She wanted very badly to fish my rod but it was a level line and I was a little too nervous to let her cast it on her own, so we did it together a few times. Our buddy had a spinning reel so Andrew taught her how to cast that and she did it all by herself several times. She cast, stopped when she got close to the trees and even mended perfectly.

I wish I could say that we landed her first king salmon but unfortunately, we couldn’t get the fish to bite anything and we had to get back before it got dark. She was an absolute pleasure to be around and by far one of my favorite little girls. She’s going to grow up and have so much passion and experience in the outdoors, don’t be surprised if you see her around the industry in 10 years!

Now, all the ladies will appreciate how my weekend went outside of hanging out with Emerald! I was a hormonal mess and I had an “aunt” coming to town if you know what I mean. ;)

There’s very few days that Jeff and I get to 100% fish for ourselves. We enjoy the company so we take a lot of people fishing, plus it’s always a bonus when you can share expenses and be able to put more fish in the boat. But it’s a lot of work! Before fishing, during, and even after fishing when you get home, it’s hours and hours of work! This weekend, I was excited to be fishing for myself and just helping Michael learn. He put in a lot of pre-work for this weekend and I was actually really anxious to help him learn more, but I just wanted to be a little selfish when it came to everyone else. Jeff was fishing out of Westport Saturday so it was just me until he came on Sunday.

I found out at the last minute that I would have a couple other friends meeting us out there and they might need a few things or a few tips. I was okay with that because for the most part, they had their own gear so I could just provide their bait and few pointers here and there. I found out that we had even more friends meeting us out there but they didn’t quite have their own gear, bait, and barely ever fished this technique before.

I missed the morning bite both Saturday and Sunday because I was busy helping others and making sure they were into fish. I lost a couple and landed a wild fish but by Sunday mid-morning, I had no blood on the bank and I was feeling like Lady Karma was forgetting about me. After watching almost everyone in our group land these big, beautiful fish and I was still without a single bite, I was on edge (to say the least). I have been asked for bait, pens, scissors, scents, leaders, to tie knots for people, I’ve been pushed out of the “good spots” by my own friends, skipped in the casting order, and then, the Tribal Warden decided I was the one he wanted to pick on and that was it. I was done.

I packed up all my stuff; All the stuff I prepared for others including the only pen out of 10 people, the only pre-tied leaders, all the scents, the only pair of pliers, and all the ZipLoks. I don’t care about anymore. I left the bait, the stringer, and 1 pair of scissors (there were only 3 pairs between all 10 people) because Jeff was there and half the stuff was his anyways. In tears, I went to my truck at 8:30 to wait for everyone else to finish so I could leave. I was done! I had a good crying session and then browsed Facebook; which so kindly reminded me that this wonderful morning was the 8th anniversary of the death of a very good friend of mine. Could my day get any worse?

I cried for almost 2 hours before Jeff’s wonderful mom popped up at my truck and gave me a pep talk. She brought me back down to the river where I said “F— everyone! I don’t care if you need a single thing, I am not here to help any of you and I’m fishing wherever I want.” I fished, I was happy, I was laughing, I was enjoying beer, I casted over people and stood where I wanted and I didn’t care! When my own friends tried to squeeze in, I didn’t budge. I hooked 2 more fish and lost them both, but hey, at least I was actually hooking fish now!

Then Jeff decided to get in my way. We had a little argument and that was it for me again! The tears came as well as the rain and I was done. We can just leave now……I lashed out at anyone in my path (including people I had just met) and Jeff referred to it as a “rampage”.

I was fine by the time we got back to the house (took a whole 10 minutes). Many apologies and a few more laughs and I was headed home to find out my “aunt” met me at my house. Thank God this craziness is over. Only my female friends will understand what my day was like and thank God for them, because at least someone understands that my day was far worse than anyone who suffered from my rampage.

I have a new outlook on fishing and it goes something like “I am not your guide and I’m not being considerate of you if you’re not looking out for me.” I’m done playing “guide” and I’m done enabling lazy people who want to catch fish but don’t want to do any work. I’m more than happy to help anyone that is actually willing to learn and to be considerate to anyone that can return the favor. If you want to skip me in the casting order, take my spot when I re-bait, or leave your stuff in the water when I hook a fish, you can be certain that I’ll go out of my way to be inconsiderate to you.

It is actually very difficult for me NOT to be considerate because it’s in my nature but I felt taken advantage of this weekend. I get so few opportunities to fish for myself and it was taken away this weekend by people who don’t understand how much work goes into a fishing trip and who must think I just love to watch other people catch fish all the time; I only like to see others catch fish when I can see their own hard work pay off.

Maybe when my “aunt” leaves town, I’ll feel better; BUT NOT TODAYI’m a woman, I’ll feel however the hell I want this week and I dare you to get in my way :)

Thank God Jeff understands me

~Bry

Loving coastal fall fish

Some of the best fishing happens when we transition from summer to fall. The rivers are low and clear, the fall fish are patiently awaiting in the Bay for big tide swings, full moons, and bringing those water levels up and dirty so they can begin their journey up river.

The water conditions were perfect this weekend and we headed to the top of the river to get those traveling fish that are staging up for a little break. It started out very slow in our first hole and the few fish we did catch, were a bit on the dark side. Not quite what we were expecting. We headed down river and searched around for some more fish and found a few more pulling plugs.

The fish were biting alright, but we were having a difficult time keeping them on and most of them were chrome silvers. Jeff pulled over and let me give it a whirl on the oars! I’ve pulled plugs and divers before in the drift boat, but never got any participants until Saturday! I got my first plug fish and got to finally return the favor, and put Jeff on a nice fish!

 

We kept fishing around and were a few silvers shy of our limit but headed to the takeout to get the evening low tide and dig our own sandshrimp! I unfortunately spent most of the night doing homework, but was well rested for another day of salmon slaying!

Sunday, we headed down river a bit to see if we could find some brighter, fresher fish and we did just that! We released quite a few darker fish, but managed to fill the box with chrome! We even got a bonus hatchery steelhead! It was our friend Zak’s first time in our drift boat and he did great! We all got fish on so many techniques, but majority of the fish on Sunday were on eggs.

We had several groups of friends in their boats and it was another fall fishing trip to go down in the history books. I love steelhead, but fishing the coast each fall with tons of friends is the type of trip that I look forward to every year and it’s exactly the type of trip we needed to get our fishing “fix” after so many weeks of hunting and preparing for hunting!

Back to fishing again!

Elk hunting is over and I couldn’t be happier to get back to fishing 100%! I did love hunting, but the passion still lies on the water :)

I got back last week so on Saturday I got to hit the water! Jeff had to work so I headed to the Humptulips for a little king fishing before the water got too low for a boat. We started out slow, but we ended the day hooking about 14 kings and well, we had to pick through the boots to find some chrome, fresh, kings. After we put 4 kings in the boat, we put on some spinners and floated down to the launch looking for some moving silvers. It’s a bit early and the water it REALLY low, but we found one! It was a nice wild, 10lb buck that was peacefully released and I have to say, of all the kings that day, the silver was the one that got me excited! I’ve missed those flips and death rolls!

So Sunday, we fished locally and searched for some more silvers but were unfortunately left empty handed. Not even a single fish. So we called it a short day and headed home.

Beyond excited for another weekend of fishing but Saturday can’t come soon enough! Hopefully we’ll be on Gray’s Harbor, but even if we do get a decent amount of rain, I’ll be excited to be on any body of water!