I really do love this time of year. Spring brings warmer weather and the ability to get out and enjoy our life in Yakutat to the fullest. We’re seeing a little traffic through the shop, so after our long dark winter, we have a little cash flow to start getting caught back up on our winter bills.
Chris with a nice little dolly
And we have the early arrival of the steelhead season. Steelheaders are serious fishermen. This is THE thing they do and enjoy. Salmon season brings a lot more people, but the steelheaders are SERIOUS fishermen. It is all about the fishing.
Because steelheaders tend to be so serious, they tend to be very competitive. Competitive means one can’t share their particular secrets with your competition. Subtle deception is a necessary ingredient for beating those around you and even those who will be coming in the weeks that follow. You must have a leg up on even the people who will be fishing long after you have already returned home.
Me with a fish on in my favorite fishing hole (my secret location)
Ahh… fishing reports… It is hard to believe that we are now beginning our 8th season in the fly shop. 8 years of trying to keep my reports page as up to date and accurate as possible. The majority of the reports I receive are as accurate as I could hope for – from the perspective of the fisherman. Obviously you have a lot of skill-level and effort to factor in, since some guys have a lot of skill and knowledge of this river and will undoubtedly be more successful. And you have those who don’t do this particular river but once a year and are less successful. Their reports are going to be a bit less enthusiastic.
A bright-as-a-dime hen steelie
Then you have the “competitors”. They seem to have a compulsion to distort, or fabricate their accuracy. Granted all fishermen lie – in fact we have a license to lie! Size, numbers, patterns… I think I’m pretty good at sifting through the fudge to find what may actually be happening on the river. But then you have the flat-out lie-their-pants-off fishermen… They crack me up.
Chris took this photo of a juvenile bald eagle during the winter steelhead run, who got himself soaked in the Situk and couldn’t fly – ice forming on his wings and no way to help the poor doomed bird
You really think I’ll believe that after 8 years of you never catching anything, you’d be returning every single year for the same slot? Really? I don’t sit around hanging on every word every fisherman utters. There are those who I trust and those, who I verify. And those I completely ignore. I do sometimes post the outlier report just for variety, but usually you can read the guy who’s level of bullshit exceeds his ability to justify why he comes back to do so poorly year after year.
My favorite (sarcasm here) is the guy who demands accurate reports that he reads religiously before he comes, then tries to give crap reports while he is here. There are a LOT of these guys. They want to know what to truly expect, then want to give everyone else false info. Hey, what ever floats your driftboat. If you think you are clever, you aren’t. Everyone can read you like the open book you are. That’s OK though. I enjoy the game. It is all part of the life of a fly shop owner I guess. Weeding through the nonsense, so I can hopefully be as helpful as possible to the people who deserve my encouragement and support.
March 30th, 2008, Teen is doing the final cleaning of our construction dust before we officially open two days later…
Don’t get me wrong, I really love what I do. This has been a fun and educational 8 years. Starting out, I knew a lot about salmon, but virtually nothing about steelhead. It has been my customers, who have enlightened me about the ins and outs of these wonderful trout. I still only fish about 2 weeks a year on average for steelhead, so most of you still know more than I do. I appreciate your patience and kindness to this ignorant recovering commercial fisherman.
A chrome-bright Situk steelhead
After 8 years, the fly shop still isn’t paying us. We continue to grow our inventory to where a real fly shop should be and that doesn’t leave anything left (yet). 16 hours a day, 9 straight months without a break with no pay… but we are still thoroughly having a great time. A great time because of you. Thank you for helping us and joining us for this journey. This shop is succeeding because of you. Without you, we’d be nowhere. Sometimes I’m not sure where we are, but we’re still open and still getting a little better with each passing day.
One of Chris’ many steelhead on that damn Dolly Llama
Now if all your fishing reports could be based on some sort of reality, that would be a help. But I’ll take what I can get… even if sometimes just for the entertainment value.
A fly shop devoid of any fly fishing stuff – this is a week after we opened and there was still this much empty space!