winter steelhead

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

~Bry

The Good ‘Ol Days

This was my last weekend of total freedom before I get my exam score back and it’s likely back to books. I took advantage of it and fished both days for a change.

There were a few fish caught, all wild fish, and great weather.

I got new waders Friday (very much needed) so I was excited to break them in except, for some reason, Jeff thought it was a good idea to remove them from my truck and not replace them with my rain gear. I did maliciously eat his lunch but after 2 bites I felt guilty and offered it back to him since it wasn’t intentionally. Thankfully, the weather held up most of the day so it was just a bit wet before heading home for the weekend.

I skipped the detailed story of my weekend trip because what I wanted to talk about was the state of our fisheries. Although I’ve fished for over 12 years, I don’t have 20, 30, 40 years under my belt. The “old timers” share stories of how fishing used to be. I’ve always wanted to be a part of “those days”. The fishing hasn’t quite been the same the past two years as it was my first 10 years and I mostly attributed that to my lack of fishing because I was studying but now I’m wondering if we’re coming out of “the good ‘ol days” and moving into a slump. This year I’ve heard from almost everyone that the fish just aren’t here. The salmon never really showed up. The steelhead don’t seem to have hit their peak although the runs are almost over.

Sure, there are good days here and there and maybe there are more during the week when I’m at work, but to hear to many people mention that they don’t know where the fish are and on multiple systems has me wondering if this is the is part of the Ebb in our fish history. Or, perhaps I just haven’t been as lucky as other years and the stars don’t align like they used to on the weekends. I am an analyst and I like to observe and collect as much data as I can before coming to conclusions. The fishery system and the way its managed could take a lifetime to truly understand and I’m eager to free up some space in my head to continue to learn these trends and factors contributing to our fisheries.

~Bry

I’m Back For Winter Steelhead!

Well, after several months of not blogging, I’m back…..at least for a little while!

I took what is supposed to be my last exam on Tuesday and life has been wonderful ever since. I do not get my score until mid-March and in an effort to “keep it real”, I feel very bad about how it went and I’ll likely be retaking it.

However, in another effort to live in the present, I am SOOOO glad to be back on here writing a blog!

This winter I have been out a few times and have put a few fish in the box! I don’t know if it’s just me, just the days I’ve fished, or if I’m completely off base, but we haven’t had a lot of stellar steelhead days and I haven’t heard of many from others. Normally, this is peak time and we’ve started seeing limits. I won’t lie, we had a phenomenal day on Sunday, but it was the first of the year that it was that we’ve encountered that many steelhead in one day. Hopefully it’s just me because I’ve been out of touch with the real world for a few months :)

We took Jeff’s coworker and his friend out. We’ve fished with both of them a couple of times but Shawn had never caught a steelhead before so we were really hoping to see him get his first. It started off with surprise snow and a little slow……so slow that we contemplated going somewhere else for the day but then Shawn missed a bite so we figured we’d stay a while and see if we can find another. Before I get going into the day, I’ll just share that I’m a bit superstitious and I wore a brand new hat that morning. I always bring a second in case I feel that something new is unlucky.

Jeff hooked up and put the first fish in the boat so now we’re getting excited and feeling good about what the day will bring. Less than an hour later, Jeff hooks up again! A feisty wild fish that was quickly released. Next up, Shawn! Finally! He is fighting his first steelhead and he successfully brings in a perfect hatchery hen.

Shawn did manage to get possibly the biggest steelhead I’ve ever seen though. I won’t pretend like it’s a state record, but I’ve never seen a 20lb steelhead in person and we’re guessing this is around there. It put up an incredible fight and Shawn fought it flawlessly in a really difficult spot and his second steelhead ever. He was a natural and I’m not sure that I would have been able to land this beast so HUGE kudos to him!

The rest of the day was so full of fish I can’t remember who got what and in what order. It was a great day of fishing to say the least. I was spending more time tying leaders than fishing so I swapped my hat for a trusted one and within 30 minutes, I was finally hooked up. I hooked 2 more (1 was native) before giving the new hat one more try.

I didn’t hook anymore fish once I switched back to the new hat but Jeff did. I think that I’ll retire that hat to the “grocery shopping” pile instead of fishing pile ;)

I had such a great time carelessly fishing and like usual, great company. In fact, Shawn probably hooked half of the fish hooked to the boat! I casted in more trees than he did and he fished all day. It was cold, snowed on and off all day, and the boat fished until dark. I have just 2 weeks left until my scores come out but I couldn’t have asked for a better day to start my break off. It truly was a day that goes into the history books.

AND…..I get to blog again for a while! Thanks to everyone for continuing to check my blog and for hounding me when I see you around the tackle shops and rivers about needing to blog. If it wasn’t for that, I probably wouldn’t have known how many people enjoy my blogs as much as I enjoy writing them :) <3

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s pretty rare that Jeff and I fish alone these days. In fact, we’ve been known to not wake each other up when we know there aren’t other people waiting for us and then we kick each other later when we’re wishing we were fishing. But this weekend, we had some last minute changes and friends cancel and ended up alone on Saturday. Other than missing an opportunity to take friends that have been waiting to go fishing, I was really pleased to wake up to that piece of info.

We took our chances on a potentially blown river and to our luck, there were just 4 other boats at the launch and the water looked fishable. We headed to the first hole and peacefully started fishing in silence – something that is truly golden and I had no idea how much I missed that. For the most part, Jeff & I don’t display our affection. In fact, we’re much more like fishing buddies when we’re on the water than we are significant others. We got to hug and kiss and high 5 each other without feeling weird or bothering anyone. We hooked 3 of the more beautiful steelhead I’d ever seen, all 13-15lb flawless hens. It got a little chaotic trying to net, motor, and fight the fish with just the 2 of us, especially when he had a fish and I had to run the boat, but it was amazing. I was all smiles and giddy like when I first started fishing. We knew the drill, there were no tangles or competition of getting to fish the better spot or the better bait; it was just 2 best friends sharing their passion.

I have to admit that I let my good mood get away from me when I started thinking about a few people in the world that feel the need to judge you. You know, the kind of people that make assumptions about you and give you dirty looks. The kind of people that you get a bad vibe from even though you’ve never exchanged words. The kind of people that talk down to you or pretend like they know what goes on in your head. I try not to be that person and unfortunately, I’ve always let those people get to me. I am not someone that “doesn’t care what others think”.

I care very much what people think of me, especially when it’s not good. If I’m being a bad person or creating negative spaces in other people’s head, I’d like to remedy that to ensure I’m being the best person I can be. Of course, you can’t control others and I can accept that but if you truly think I’m doing something you don’t agree with, I’d love to get to know that scenario and fix that judgment.

I let one person in particular bring me to silent tears and then started remembering all the bullies from my pre-teen days. The names that will stick with me forever and that although I’d never openly tell them, but the ones that made me cry for hours after school and question existence. After I got off that pity pot, I realized that I wasted several hours of one of the best days I got to have with my best friend because of ONE person. That was the downstream effect. Because I couldn’t understand what I did to make this ONE person dislike me so much. Well, I got over that pretty quickly once I realized that.

I won’t pretend that I’m still not bothered by that person or their judgment on me, but I won’t let him ruin a perfect day that I had with my best friend. But I will remember not to cast judgment on others and to always be kind. I won’t even cast judgment on that person because for all I know, I really did do something to offend them. Or perhaps they are unhappy in their own life. Whatever the issue is, they have their own reasons and I know that I don’t ever want to be THAT person to anyone.

This is why I had an amazing day with my best friend. Life’s lessons are taught in such unexpected places and I’m so grateful that I woke up that morning thinking we had a buddy meeting with us in 30 minutes.