Jul 24

The pivot

I wanted to take the boy to one of my favorite places, the Lower McCloud. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth (ya know, to me).

I got him some Redington waders and boots just to be ready for him to stand in cold water.

Crucially, I didn’t call the Ted Fay Fly Shop for a stream report.

We started heading down to the river, leaving the paved road and hitting the kind of dirt/rock road that a city kid doesn’t see too often.

We passed Ah Di Nah (I wanted to name my daughter Ahdinah but her mom thought it sounded like a 70 year old waitress who smokes 2 packs a day in a truckstop town) and headed further toward the McCloud Preserve (run by TNC). We encountered a truck on the way who stopped and I stopped and rolled down the window.

“It’s unfishable” he said.

“Totally off color. Milk. No one is down there. Place is abandoned.”

Well, I could see the river and it looked very, very poor. Visibility looked to be about 4″-5″. I was there, we were there, so we were going to go see it anyway. I thanked the other angler and we headed on down to the end of the road.

There were no cars. We were the only ones foolish enough to be there.

We got out to start getting ready and were set upon by a cloud of mosquitos. Now, I knew this would happen, it almost always does here, but I had not warned the boy. He kind of freaked out about it. As we walked down to the river he really started to lose it. A bug went up his nose and he straight up lost his shiznit. I was not full of compassion and may have said something like “deal with it.” He did not deal with it. There were tears and screams and we very nearly stopped about 100 feet down the trail.

I tried to get him in a position to fish, but… it just wasn’t going to happen for him.

The McCloud was barely fishable and it wasn’t going to be fishable for your average 10 year old.

We made it to the care takers place and found all 10 tags waiting for us. We grabbed two tags and had lunch.

After a quick lunch we hit the water behind one of the cabins.

I manged to catch 4 despite the poor visibility. Fish have to eat, even if it is difficult. All 4 at big ugly bugs, probably the only things they could see.

After about an hour (for most of that time O just watched and played on the bank) we left. That was it. That was all of the McCloud we were going to see and I doubt the awesomeness of that place translated to my 10 year old. All he knows of the place is that there are a bazillion bugs (they pretty much go away when you get on the water) and the water is opaque. We did manage to see a black bear on the road on the way out, which was cool.

We pivoted. We went from the Mac directly to a high mountain lake. We didn’t even get the rods out. We just walked around the lake looking for critters and we found them.

Highlight of the trip will be this lake for him.

I had so wanted him to fall in love with one of my favorite places, but you just can’t really control what your kids will love. Just gotta go with the flow and find them where they are at.

Jul 24

The boy and the river

The weekend was a success, mostly. First cast, first fish. You have to worry about the curse of the first cast there, but it ended up no mattering. He stuck a bunch more and was moving well in the little river I put him on. He was catching his own fish, which is a level of competence that you love to see.

I bring this little bucket, attached to my backpack, along with me on these trips. The point is simple… I put the fish in there so the boy can look at them in a safe way. Gives us a little quality time with these cool little creatures.

There were stumbles… the pants he had were a little too big and sagged and that seemed to cause endless irritation (and some frustration on my part) until I rolled the top down a couple times and that solved the problem. This trip ended up being a lot of me saying “when we face a challenge, we try to find a solution.” Probably said that 30 times, which means maybe it didn’t sink in too deep.

This is my home water. This is where I learned to fly fish. So it is always special to see one of my kids walking in these waters.

The second morning we went back to the Upper Sacramento to one of my favorite stretches but it turned out the boy just was not OK with standing in 59 degree water. I got this one wrong. He managed to catch one and I managed to get this photo, which may be one of my best.

I got that fixed this week when a pair of Redington waders and kid boots arrived. The waders are big on him, but that just means he’ll grow into them.

He asked to go again this weekend and so we are. I have two weekends this whole summer where I could get him fishing and we are going to take advantage of both of them.

Jul 24

Going fishing

I’m headed up to my old headwaters this weekend with the boy.

He’s excited to go.

I mean… does it get any better than that? My kid wants to go fishing.

Jun 24

On the passing of Chris Santella

Kirk Deeter wrote this personal tribute to Chris Santella, and from the looks of it, he knew Chris well and counted him among his people.

Chris was a fishing acquantance of mine and our paths really only intersected once, but that was a memorable experience as it involved fishing the waters of Cuba.

It was a long time ago now, right about 12 years from my count, and I got brought to Cuba by Yellow Dog to fish with a bunch of really interesting guys. Chris was one of those guys and I know I shared a skiff with him one of the days we were there, although the details of that day’s fishing have faded. The fishing was awesome, in general, but I don’t recall a specific fish caught by or with Chris. He caught many, as happens in a place like that.

I do remember him brining something like a guitar and playing at various points, including in the airport.

What I recall of Chris was he was humble and kind and interesting.

Godspeed Chris.

Feb 24

Will’s Flat in Belize

The dredging has been temporarliy suspened on Will’s Flat (named after Will Bauer), aka Angelfish Cay, but the fight goes on.

Such a bummer when “eco” operations overlook the horrible effects of dredging. You can’t paint yourself in eco green and destroy the flats at the same time.

Check out this good write up by the folks over at Flylords. There’s a link to a petition there.

There’s this post from the folks over at Yellow Dog.

Belize is just a fantastic place full of natural wonders and there will always be those who want to break just a little piece of it for their own. The problem is that this IS a zero sum game. They aren’t making more Belizes. This is the only one the Belizian people have. Screw this up and it is gone for good.

Feb 24

Anini wins again

If I’m going to Kauai, I’m going to get some time at Anini.

This is not because the fishing is fantastic there. It isn’t. It is horrible fishing. It is one of the only places you can sometimes, maybe, almost see bonefish in Kauai. It is also the first place I ever saw a bonefish, back in 2008.

This place has kicked my butt more than any other place I’ve ever fished. It just doesn’t give up its fish easily… at least not to me. Maybe there’s an angler out there who just crushes here, but I don’t know that angler (and if real, I kind of jealous-hate them).

The flat is big… really big… and is a rubble flat of old coral. There are dips and holes and things to trip on and my body this morning is speaking loudly… mostly saying “slow your roll, old man.”

I might have seen 2 bonefish, from about 10 feet away in 3 feet of water. Whatever they were, they were out of there fast and I had eyes on them for about 3 seconds. Still… not sure.

Spooked a couple of schools of smaller blue fin trevalley.

Caught a cornet fish (not photographed) and one blue fin trevalley.

I wonder why they call them blue fin…

This is what Anini offers… humility, beauty and the faintest hope at a bonefish. I’ve fished it 10 or 11 days and have yet to even hook a bonefish here.

If I get back, I’ll fish it again.

Feb 24

Coral Hawkfish

Another day in Kauai and another day of me casting at anyting that might, possibly, eat a fly.

The tide was a little bit lower and I think that meant the Christmas Wrasse were not available, but… BUT… if I cast near structure with a larger fly, I might just get a Coral Hawkfish to dash out, smash the fly and try very hard to pull back into it’s crevice or hole. They were surprisingly fun, even if they weren’t huge.

They acted like a mini version of the triggers I so loved in Christmas Island.

So pretty… and look at those spines.

These aren’t O’io, but they are fish and they are beautiful and they take a fly. That checks a lot of boxes.

I do enjoy the Islands.

Feb 24

Christmas Wrasse


I’m in Kauai for vacation (kid is off school this week) and of course I brought a rod (two, actually) along.

I decided to pass some time right in front of the resort and was rewarded with a few Christmas Wrasse.

I mean… how are these even real? Look at those colors!

This fish didn’t put me into my backing and barely put a bend in my 8 wt., but… I could look at this fish all day.

This is one thing I love about these kinds of places… the fish are often glorious.

I had to drop down from a #6 to a #8 for this guy. Otherwise they couldn’t fit it in their mouths.

Feb 24

One Year Count Down – Christmas Island

Well… it is booked. The deposit is paid. This thing is happening. I’ll be heading back to Christmas Island Feb. 11 of 2025.

I can’t wait to be back out there.

It is just such a cool environment. I really enjoyed it when i was there in 2019, before the world shut down for a few years.

I loved the trigger fish, the GT shots, the bonefish, the BFTs and all the wierd and beautiful stuff you’d catch near the Korean Wreck.

I just loved it. And I’m headed back.

We’ll be at Christmas Island Lodge, which seems a good operation.

Here’s to the days and hours of anticipation. Get out there.

Feb 24

Godspeed Cathy Beck

I never met Cathy Beck, but I certainly knew of her, and her husband Berry. Word came out earlier this week that Cathy passed away while they were fishing down in Argentina. Condolences to Barry and all those who knew and loved Cathy, and that seems like a lot of people.

Here she is talking casting and hauls.