We had a business plan, boats, gear, and a blue-ribbon trout fishery 5 minutes from our front door. What could go wrong? The launch of RiverSoul Outfitters was on the books… People were hyped to fish with us. We were psyched to get people on the river. We knew glitches and hiccups were part of the adventure and were eagerly anticipating the challenges. What we were not prepared for was a Pandemic. Or our blue-ribbon trout fishery being closed because of the Pandemic. Or quarantine. Or masks. Or no toilet paper. None of these things were even close to being on our radar when we brainstormed the birth of RiverSoul Outfitters over numerous bottles of Yellowstone Whiskey.
Our “team” meetings consisted of what flys we needed for the season. How many rods per boat. What we’d make for lunch on the boats. CPR classes. Licenses, insurance, and where to put stickers. (All guides have cool stickers…. this was something we learned right off the bat.) Not once did anyone at our team meetings prep for what guide life could look like if a Pandemic started. Nope, not once. Yet, there we were…. trying to launch a brand-spankin’ new guide business in the middle of a historical nightmare.
Now here is the crazy thing…. all horrible things aside (deaths, separation, loneliness) none of which is in anyway meant to feel trivialized or minimized in this Blog post.
Not launching just might have been the best thing to happen to us. What did we do? We had another “team” meeting, with more whiskey…. cursed a little bit, scratched our heads trying to figure out what our next step was, and we fished… (after the river was open again, of course). We fished….and fished….and fished. We put the business plan on hold. We put the gear for RiverSoul Outfitters in storage. We still played with stickers…. cause you can’t ever have enough stickers. We fished as much as we could because that was really all we knew to do. It made sense. It helped us cope with the unknown, the uncertainty of what would happen to our “baby”, RiverSoul Outfitters.
Every single fish we caught was therapy. Every cast was medicine. There was still sadness all around us, so much. But on the river, that riffle you could get lost in gave a moment of amnesia to the crisis we were all living in. A year later…. we have dusted the business plan off, geared up the boats, stuck some more stickers and we are READY for the 2021 Season. Things look a little different because of the Pandemic, but the overall picture of RiverSoul remains the same.
For each of us, the river was our constant during chaos. It was the reminder that although the best laid plans can go sideways, sometimes you just have to take a step back and go with the flow. A lesson we hope to share with each and every person we get the privilege of fishing with. To the guide community…...here’s to a successful 2021 season of prosperity, laughter, fishy waters, and full nets.
Cheers from RiverSoul Outfitters!
We are located in Cle Elum WA and we fish the Yakima River.