In Between Seasons

This is probably one of my least favorite “fishing seasons”. The time between where there aren’t many steelhead around anymore, you’re kind of tired of steelhead, REALLY excited for springers, but there aren’t many of those around either. You end up needing to choose between investing time in maybe catching a couple of steelhead or instead, catching 1 of your favorite fish.

The Cowlitz has been Jeff’s kryptonite for a couple of years. It’s a different type of fishery and it’s not his strongest fishery lol. But, it’s one of the only rivers that we fish that is still open and has fish. In fact, their run is supposed to just be getting started. So, we headed there with the plan of fishing for both steelhead and springers to see what we get. We ended up with just 1 steelhead which was better than our normal skunking, but that effort definitely could have been spent on the Columbia potentially getting 1 springer instead.

We’re not the biggest fan of fishing the same mile long stretch of river which seems to be where most of the fish on the Cowlitz are caught, so we spent a good part of the day fishing around and trying to ditch the crowds. Not that the Cowlitz isn’t big enough to handle it all, it just gets old running the same water all day long, especially when we suck there and aren’t hooking fish all day lol.

We did get shorter rods and are switching to sidedrifting this year for the Cowlitz only. I love bait. I will almost always choose bait over an artificial lure with the exception of a worm. Jeff is a bit more open minded than me, but still, he also is a big bait fan. The Cowlitz fish seem to want a bead or piece of yarn lol. It’s not my favorite place for steelhead to say the least.

Anyhow, we’re both ready for springers so we’ll continue this in between fishing until we start hitting the Columbia and then DRANO!!!

Finally…….A Reason to Celebrate

I PASSED!!!!! I officially passed all of my CPA exams and am free!

I honestly did not expect to pass so I had no special plans to celebrate. Jeff and I fished by ourselves on Saturday which is always a nice change. It’s a bit more chaotic with only us in the sled and that means that we don’t get very many pictures. We have always been a little bit bad at getting up to go fishing when it’s just us so we were naturally off to a late start. It was a surprise to see too many boats at the launch and we were one of the last, but we made it count! We ended up with 6 fish (4 native) and the most incredible weather.

Jeff actually got 4 of the 6 fish because of course, he’s a way better angler and he gets first water all day in the sled. He also decided to throw artificials while I was stuck on bait, because well, that’s what always works. He knew that all those other boats were throwing bait and the fish must be tired of seeing bait after bait after bait while these huge boats run back and forth. Sure enough, he got all 4 of his fish on artificials and I only got 2 on bait.

Sunday, we headed back and didn’t hook a thing for a couple of hours. We even got there on time and were ready with many different rigs to test out. There were only a couple of boats which is probably because of lower/clearer water conditions and we don’t think people did as well as us the previous day. We ended up making some changes and hooked 2 native fish on Sunday. Not quite the fantastic day that we had the day before, but it was the first time I’ve been able to fish with absolutely no guilt. I took a nap each day, slept in the car, fished all day, and got up before him. These are things that I haven’t done in years guilt free.

I can’t describe the feeling that I have. I remember what fishing used to be like before the guilt that came with the CPA exams and it’s all back now. The feeling of being able to disconnect from life. Not caring about what I need to do on my list or what I have to do that night. There is no agenda. And when I fish, I only care about enjoying that exact moment. Only those closest to me and those who have studied these exams know the extent of what it does to your life, your relationships, and your mental well-being. I know that I am young and have a lot of life left to live, but I truly hope this was one of the most stressful times in my life. I am at peace and so incredibly grateful to be able to enjoy life again. Every single minute is not to be taken for granted and being able to spend this time clear headed in our beautiful rivers does this to me. Thanks to all of you that supported me along the way and that told me you’ve been missing my blogs. Having this space to share how my fortunate opportunities right now in my life is very meaningful to me and I appreciate everyone along the way. <3


Cowlitz Lemonade

It seems as though I have let life get in the way of fishing again. And when I think about it like that, I tend to obviously think that life events take a precedence over fishing until I get to a burdened point in life and finally realize why. It’s not that fishing should remain more important that life events, but that fishing is my release for life’s lemons and I quickly forget how to make lemonade. Once I realize that the steps to making lemonade include fishing, my life seems to fall back into place.

I’ve gone out here and there over the past month, but my heart was heavy, fishing felt like a chore and I couldn’t take my mind off the things going on at home, and I wasn’t catching which probably contributed to the slump that I was in. I go through this process about 2 times a year and thankful to say that I’m over this one and I was anxious and eager to hit the river bright and early Saturday morning.

We’re in springer mode although the thought of actually putting fish in the boat is always at the top of the list so we hit the Cowlitz to target a bit of springers, but get some blood in the box by targeting steelhead as well. I got out of slump hooked up for about 5 seconds only to be left with a bare hook and a happy steelhead that got away. I did manage to land one which I was quite excited about!

Brothers Jerry and Jason also got into some nice ones!

Sunday I was feeling even better and even more excited. We headed to Blue Creek and first pass, Zack gets a fish on! Second pass, my turn! Well this was a good way to start the day! Shall we try 3 for 3 passes? We unfortunately weren’t so fortunate, but we ended up with 4 in just a couple of short hours before it slowed way down.

Jeff always runs the boat and anyone that knows me, knows how much I hate running the sled. I’m terrified, I’ll row a drift boat all day but the sled creates so much anxiety through my veins, that I cry. It’s expensive, powerful, fast and I don’t want to be the reason something happens to it. Well, Jeff hooked up and when it’s an average or small fish, he stays on the motor and fights the fish, but this time, it was a big, hot steelhead and he immediately ran to the front of boat which left me with the motor. As I try to remain calm, I’m delegating the others on the boat and trying my best to keep the boat around the fish and make it as easy as possible to get this fish in the net so Jeff can regain control of the boat.

Of course it’s not that easy. It was several minutes of shear torture (but no tears this time) as we drifted slowly towards the next corner which had a few ripples which means I might have to actually maneuver around them or lift the motor up. I’m warning Jeff that he better hurry up because I can’t do this and he just wants to patiently land this fish.

Finally! It’s in the net and I immediately go for his rod so he can get the motor. It was a very nice hen full of glorious eggs that will become the next batch of steelhead bait, but I needed a beer after that. It was entirely too much.

My life is still a little bit hectic, but much like running the boat, I’m getting better and better at the things that make me uncomfortable and are unexpected. Once I realize that the ripples aren’t as bad as they look and that I can do this, I am able to remember how to make lemonade :)

Summer fun

I think it’s safe to say that my dry spell is over! What a great weekend! I am truly blessed to be able to fish every weekend and any negative thoughts I had while I was pittying myself are long gone :)

We fished the Skykomish and right off the bat in the morning; I hit another great native summer run. Again, I am so grateful that she only jumped once. I REALLY HATE WHEN FISH JUMP! My buddy asked me why, and I said that because when I get a fish that does jump, I almost always lose it and I lose it on the jump. He replied, “But it’s so much cooler when you land it and you can say the fish jumped x amount of times!” This is true, but I don’t care. I lose more than I land when they are flipping and jumping all over the place. Coho and summer steelhead are my most nerve wracking fish to fight.

Right after I landed that one, I hooked into a nice low-teen size king and after about 30 seconds of digging and making its way towards the boat, my heart began rapidly beating as the fish made its first jump. “These guys don’t jump! What is wrong with this one!” I loosened my drag and watched the fish do flips around the boat, I lowered my rod and began panicking.

What a silly king. It must be hanging out with the summer run because it was jumping like a dolphin, rolling under the boat, AND using its wide body to defeat me. We’re using the steelhead series 6-10 lb Loomis sidedrifting rods and 10lb leaders. They are absolutely my favorite rods and we use them for ever species, but when you’re trying to land some strange king like this, it just kept using its body mass to sink back down away from the net when I finally lost the fight.

I was really disappointed, but Jeff made up for it by landing this 22 lb hatchery king. Again, it was a challenge to land, but he landed it on the same gear that I was using and he had a blast fighting it. I on the other hand, was almost crying because I didn’t think that I would be able to net it. I had very little time between when Jeff could pull his head up and when he realized he was next to a large boat and decided to take off again s I ended up just sticking the darn net in the water and letting him drift right to his death.

We lost another steelhead and Sunday was much slower. The weather was great, but I have to admit, we spent most of the day playing in the water after Jeff got a king first thing in the morning. After that, we were about done fishing and just enjoyed the river :)

Crabbing this week! Can’t wait!!