May 15

A young man’s game

I’ve been thinking about the trout fishing I’m not doing right now on my home waters of the Upper Sacramento and McCloud Rivers. I see the pictures come through on Facebook of friends up there, getting after it, fishing those waters that once so captivated me and still hold a very special place in my heart.

I was remembering a trip over a decade ago I took on the McCloud at the close of the season. I was hiking up the river, fishing solo, and I came to a section where the banks meet high rock walls as the river flowed out of a gorge section. As I hiked up the trail along this section of river I looked into one run far below and saw a massive trout. The thing had to be 10 pounds, almost certainly a brown trout, and it marauded around the pool like it owned the place. I wanted that fish.

To get to the fish I had to scale down a rock cliff, which I did, rod in my mouth to keep two hands free to grab the rocky cliff face. When I got down to the water I got one cast into the pool and one of my flies (an egg pattern) was immediately hit by a good trout. It was a good fish, not 10 pounds good, but a good fish nonetheless. After a couple minutes I landed a beautiful 19″ rainbow. The big brown didn’t like the commotion and had vanished.

The way I fish for trout on my home waters and how my home waters fish best is by aggressively covering the water. You get in and walk up the river, climbing over rocks and logs and whatever else is in the way. It is a tight-line, short-line nymphing technique using two flies and one more split shot than you might otherwise consider wise. You pound the pockets and the runs and you strike on everything. Sometimes there is a fish when you strike. That’s why you do it.

I was thinking about that episode on the McCloud recently from my perspective today. I realized I wouldn’t have climbed down there now. I’m more cautious. I have two kids and a wife who depend on me and I can’t do foolish things. My body also doesn’t respond as well to challenges as it once did.

While I wouldn’t have made it down to the bottom of the gorge, I know if I did the cast I would have made would have been better than the one I made all those years ago. I’ve lost some of my aggressiveness, but I’ve gained some skill.

When out on the flats there isn’t much of a place for aggressiveness, but skill gets you everywhere.

I wonder if that’s one of the things I like about bonefishing, that shift in focus, that shift in what ends up being important.

I can still wade semi-irresponsibly and cover the water, but I find myself on my rivers much, much less often and the call I hear is usually from the flats in places too far away and too expensive to visit frequently.

Fly fishing is still a huge part of my life and I imagine it will be until I can’t fish anymore. Maybe the trout will come back around for me in terms of importance and maybe one day again I’ll get to know a river’s pulse and hatches and moods like I used to. Maybe I’ll come to appreciate different aspects of the trout game in the future that don’t rely on the aggressiveness so much.

Maybe I’ll seek out spring creeks or take up lake fishing. Maybe I won’t and I’ll still pine for bonefish and skinny water flats and the need for long and pretty casts. We’ll find out.

May 15


I just can’t get into tying trout flies anymore. I just can’t do it. The salt stuff is just too much fun. It’s so big and expressive and substantial. I don’t want to tie any more #16’s.

I know which I'd rather tie.

I know which I’d rather tie.

May 15

The Fieldworkers Club goes to Belize

Right? I mean… who wouldn’t want to?

I like this concept.

May 15

Flatswalker and Casting and More

It had been a while since I had wandered over to Flatswalker and what do I see when I get there? All manner of goodness.

Example? Sure. How about this post, with some casting tips. Really, he’s got loads of casting tips on there and you should check it out.

Davin will be in the Keys here in a month and we’ll fish together again and that is good.


May 15

On Writing

Cover art by Bob White

Cover art by Bob White

I wish I was a better writer. Getting better at writing, really honing the craft, requires a lot more work than simply pounding out some blog posts. I’ve been doing that for years, but I don’t think there has been too much evolution. I once heard a coach say “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” It might sound a little cheesy, but it still rings true. It is true of casting (double hauling on the pond is different than waiting for a windy day and THEN going out on the pond) and writing (blog posts not counting as perfect practice) and probably a great deal beyond.

Growing as a writer requires feedback. It requires an editor, another set of eyes to look at what you’ve scratched down and ask questions, poke holes, or, more commonly, show you the holes you glossed over. You tend to find that sort of attentive eye in the context of education or in professional writing. I expect to find myself in neither situation in the near future.

The last real editing I experienced was while working on the first edition of Pulp Fly. Pulp Fly was my idea, although the name and form and organization came from others. My story for that effort benefited immensely from something like professional editing (thanks Pete) and I loved the experience. Someone taking what I’d written and really going through it critically, letting me know what they took from it and what I had failed to convey, it was a revelation.

After the first edition of Pulp Fly I was told I wasn’t part of the second project, that I wasn’t going to be part of the group. There was some paperwork I hadn’t signed (although I could have sworn I did) and it meant I was on the outside. It was a bit humiliating to be chucked out like that, but the worst part was losing the “thing” to write for and the opportunity to get a critical eye going over my work. I found without the “thing” to write for I just didn’t write, save for the blog. While the blog is writing, it is seldom story telling. I’m usually the character and the story is simply what happened. Every once in a while I’ll write something that I feel really good about, but those posts get buried under the next ones and after a week or a month I don’t even remember them anymore.

Now it looks like Pulp Fly is wrapping up. That’s a shame too. I recently bought Pulp Fly III and read it and I liked the stories, most written by people I know (in a Facebook kind of way) and respect. They are good people and good writers and I enjoyed what they put together.

I find myself thinking of writing again and I’m wishing I had had an editor these past few years. We’ll see where things go from here, but I have some stories bumping around in my head and I’d like to write them down.

May 15

Everglades in beautiful video

Well done, man… well done. This is just beautiful and so well put together. Check it out.


May 15

Florida is happening

Davin spanking a baby

Davin spanking a baby

Two years ago I went to fish Florida for the first time. I had a block about fishing Florida for a long time. Florida, I was told, was hard. Like really hard. It wasn’t a place to go if you wanted to catch fish if you couldn’t make a 300 foot cast in a hurricane. Oh, and the guides would yell at you, maybe tell you were were a bit overweight and that no one really liked you..

I wasn’t ready for Florida.

But in 2013 I went anyway. It was tough and wet and I didn’t catch that many fish, but I also realized just how much of the center of the sport Florida really is. If you fly fish for bones or tarpon or permit, you need to come here, to experience it, to test your metal.

I went back last year and I’m going back again this year. I’m going back and most of the crew from 2013 is heading back too. Davin and Matt are going to be there, Eric is coming too, I have a day fishing with Derek and there will even be some new additions.

It feels good to have a trip on the books, but even better when it is a reunion of friends, far flung, geographically dispersed and coming back together.

I’m excited about the Keys, about seeing old friends, making new memories.

Who knows… maybe it will rain every day again and we will get in 2 hour of fishing, but even if that happens, I know I’ll still have a pretty good time.

May 15


A new member to the family… my new Peak Vice.

Peak vice

It was time for a new vice and while I like nice things, I don’t like paying a lot of money. There are a lot of very nice vices out the and some come with eye watering prices. I’m never going to own one of those. The Peak was a decent compromise. It isn’t a $30 vice, but it isn’t a $500 vice. The cost, $149, seems like a pretty good value. “Made in the USA,” the vice seems well made and solid. I’m looking forward to it.

The c-clamp this came with was too bulky to work with the fly tying desk I have, which has doors I can close to keep all the hooks and goodies safe from our toddler. I simply used the other c-clamp I had, which has a nice skinny profile and works better with the doors.

I’ve tied a few flies on this so far and it takes a 1/0 pretty well. Maybe it will work on a #22 and I will do everything I can never to find out.

Welcome to the family Peak.

Apr 15

Forbes and Cuba

Well… Forbes ran a story about fishing Cuba and that means I need to point you there. Could the bonefish decline in the Keys be partly put on Cuba?

While the scientific research is ongoing, there is much speculation that the Keys bonefish decline may be in part due to the overharvesting of the species in Cuba. Tagging by the BTT shows no evidence of adult migrations between the Keys and Cuba. “But once bonefish hatch from eggs after spawning, the bonefish larvae are certainly capable of flowing with ocean currents from Cuba to the Keys during their 53 day open-ocean phase,” says the BTT’s Director of Operations, Dr. Aaron Adams. “So netting of spawning bonefish in Cuba could have significant impacts on how many larvae are able to drift from Cuba bonefish spawning sites to the Florida Keys.” And that could very well be the problem.




Apr 15

Not Fishing

I’m up in my hometown on the trout opener (although the river is now open all year). We are up with the family to visit my dad since we haven’t been up in ages. With a recent calf rupture, I can’t really walk around the banks and rocks of the Upper Sacramento on this trip. So, this is a non-fishing trip to a fishy place on a fishy weekend.

Dunsmuir is a mountain town and you can feel the difference.

Up here the mornings are crisp. That crispness is just not in the air down by the Bay, down in the flats or valleys. Maybe it’s the lack of moisture in the air, I’m not sure, but the sharpness of the morning air and the hit of evergreen it carries is something that feels unique.

Sunsets are hastened and sunrises delayed by the canyon walls.

We went to the Fireman’s Breakfast on Saturday morning. A very small-town thing. The fire department here is all volunteer and they move a couple of trucks to make way for tables and chairs. At the breakfast I managed to see an old day care provider from when I was tiny, an old football coach and the son of one of my classmates (who, it appears, is now one of the volunteer fire fighters). I have no idea if there is such an event in Alameda and if there was, it wouldn’t be the same. There would be hundreds of people instead of dozens and I wouldn’t know any of them.

Hanging out in the Ted Fay Fly Shop is almost as good as fishing. Seeing the folks coming in and preparing to head out on the water is something I’ve always enjoyed. The conversations are easy, interests are aligned and people are in a good mood.

It is getting harder and harder to get up here. Between careers and kids it is just not easy. But I enjoy it when I’m here. I’m making a home down in the Bay Area, but this still feels like home to a part of me.

Next time, there will be rods in the car.

Swing Time

Swing Time