Apr 17

At 75

My dad turns 75 today. He’s my longest-time fishing companion.

As a very small boy we’d fish Hall Creek near his childhood home in Corning. Later we’d fish the Klamath River together for steelhead. We plugged away at our local Upper Sacramento River a bit, but didn’t really fish it until I hit about 21.

We fished the Lower Sacramento for shad on Memorial Day weekend every year of my childhood (minus flood years) and the Klamath for half-pounders every Labor Day weekend (minus one year due to fires).

We fished the coastal rivers of Southern Oregon for steelhead with me freezing my feet to blocks of ice in my plastic waders.

All of that was without a fly, mostly worms and eggs and gear. I started fly fishing when I was 21 and my dad started the year after. Since that time we’ve fly fished 10x more than before.

We’ve fished the Umpqua and the Babine together. We’ve fished our home trout waters like the Upper Sacramento, McCloud, Fall River, Hat Creek and more. We’ve fished the Lower Sacramento and the Trinity. We’ve fished ponds and lakes. We’ve fished Montana and Yellowstone.

The Babine

Dad lands a Madison Brown

A Lower Sac Rainbow

We started saltwater fly fishing together in Hawaii and then caught our first bonefish in Grand Bahama. We’ve fished Abaco together and the Everglades.


Our first flat in Kauai

My dad’s best Bahamas fish

Heading out in Abaco

We’ll fish Mexico together in July. One more memory to make and I hope many more to come.

Thanks for providing the spark dad.

May 14

River Therapy, Day Two

Earlier in the week my dad and I went on a second river therapy day, again on the Lower Sacramento River. This time we went with Fred Gordon, guide and artist from Dunsmuir. Fred was the guy who took me out, many, many years ago, where it all clicked and I learned how to nymph, which is to say I learned how to be a California Fly Fisherman.

Dad and Fred and a nice Lower Sac trout

Dad and Fred and a nice Lower Sac trout

Again, the fishing was fantastic and my dad and I had a really good time.

On a river, or on a flat, the world’s tragedies and sorrows melt away and there is only the fish and the water and the people you are with. That’s the way it was on this day. Jetting up river, floating down and catching fish or talking about caught fish from years and trips gone by.

When we got off the river the sorrow was still there, but at least we had that day, and for a short time, life was about as good as it gets.



Jun 13


My dad has given me a lot over the years and one of the best gifts has been the love of fishing. He’s the one who first got me interested and gave me the opportunities to experience the water, the fish and the environment. I am actively trying to pay it forward with my own children.

My dad is a lover of nature. He’s curious about rock formations and clouds and birds and fish. He’s interested in the land and how all the pieces fit together. He still gets excited about a fish, any fish, and will still pull the car over to see a bird. My mom is sometimes frustrated that he won’t remember the name of someone he’s known for 20 years, but will be able to tell you what river he caught a steelhead on in 1969, on what day, on what rock!

We’ve had some great days on the water… and some truly miserable ones, but I’m grateful for each and every one.

Thank you, dad, for the gift of fish. I’d say it stuck.



May 13


When I think back on who taught me to fish, it is easy. It was my dad. He didn’t teach me to fly fish, that came later. He did teach me to fish though. I have many, many fond memories of fishing with my dad as a kid. We fished for shad on the Lower Sacramento on Memorial Day. We fished for steelhead on the Klamath on Labor day. We fished for Steelhead on the Elk and other Southern Oregon rivers in the winter (along with the Klamath).

I’d imagine your dad taught you. Odds are fair to good on that regard.

When I look back at my awkward childhood, through the good and the bad, the fishing stands out as solidly in the “good” column. In the arc from there to adulthood fishing has remained a central part of my life and an easy, free-flowing source of conversation between my father and I.

So, thanks dad.

I’m headed up to my home town today to go see my dad, who is in the hospital right now awaiting surgery. No, it’s not those butt implants he always wanted, this is a little more serious and if everything goes well, he’ll be off the water for a long time.

If you still have your teacher, make sure to tell them thanks.

Here's to you dad.

I’m the good looking one.


My dad pulled out the cast of his lifetime to get this pretty fantastic mutton snapper.

My dad pulled out the cast of his lifetime to get this pretty fantastic mutton snapper.

Apr 13

A tough day with a couple of perfect moments

Today my dad and I fished with independent guide Sam Taylor out of Freeport. I was going to fish with Tommy Rolle, but didn’t manage to get a hold of him for a couple days and simply couldn’t wait to see if we could connect or not. So, my day with Tommy turned into a day with Sam.

The day was tough. That is going to be the lasting impression. If we go solely by fish count, it was a bit of a disaster. Just two bonefish were landed. I landed both. My dad got blanked. My dad is a steelhead and trout angler and the salt is still pretty new to him. He got shots, but he needs several in order to convert and he didn’t get several, he got a handful (less than a handful). He hooked up, briefly, and cast to a pig (Sam said it was “12-14 pounds”), but it was short lived. Like I said… it was a tough day.

Dad and Sam on the flats of Grand Bahama

Dad and Sam on the flats of Grand Bahama

We had clouds for a lot of the day. The sky wasn’t wall-to-wall grey, it was mostly blue with a few big, white clouds. Several of those clouds seemed to seek us out and park right above us, dimming the lights on our flats.

We had wind, but mostly at our back and it wasn’t really an issue.

We had big and beautiful flats full of fresh feed marks and devoid of fish.

It was a tough day.

While it was tough, there was also some beauty in the day. I got to fish with my dad, something rare these days and treasured. I also had two perfect shots which produced nice fish.

Sam’s boat is, from what I understand of these things, a Carolina Skiff and it doesn’t draft particularly shallow. At one point I offered to get out and wade so we wouldn’t hit any more rocks. Sam pointed the path he wanted me to take where I’d get back in the boat. As I was wading out that way I spotted a bonefish. I saw it at about 90 feet and watched it get closer. I made four casts as the fish moved closer and when I made the last cast I could tell it was on. The fish diverted and started following the fly. It sped up and ate, but the strip set pulled the fly from the fish. The next strip saw the fish pounce on the fly again and it was hooked. A nice 4 pound fish. I got the whole thing on video and I’ll put that up when I get back and get to edit it.

Later we stopped to wade a really expansive flat. I waded for a long time without seeing anything while my dad and Sam waded together about 150 or so feet away. At one point I actually saw a bonefish, but it didn’t eat. It didn’t spook, but it just passed on the offering. As I was changing flies another fish came by, not spooking either, but just casually passing. A few seconds after I finished retying I saw another fish. This one was about 40′ away. I made one cast and the fish followed and ate and exploded. This very nice fish was somewhere between 22″ to 24″ to the fork, making it a legit 6 pounds and possibly 7. Fish of the trip and I had found it myself, which was nice.

We looked for Cudas a bit, but the wind was coming up and the clouds were building. We called it a day, a tough day for sure, but memorable as well.

Local knowledge is key, but it helps to have the sun and a bit of luck.

Dec 12

A day fishing with dad

My dad turned 70 earlier this year and for his gift I got a day on the water for the two of us to fish together. That was back in April and a lot went down between then and yesterday. One of those things was a health scare with my dad that threw this and pretty much any trip in question. That fear seems to have abated (dad’s doing great these days) and so it was time to get fishing.

We were going to fish the Lower Sacramento out of The Fly Shop. I love this river. It is big with big, big fish. We met at the shop, got all our stuff together and headed to the river.

Um… WTF? You can’t go fishing in Chocolate Milk!

Pretty much no one could predict that the river would blow out overnight for no readily apparent reason. We got to the boat launch, got out of the car and it was clear, within seconds, the Lower Sac was pretty far from fishable. The river had looked good the day before and there had been no rain for several days. The river had been clearing, not silting up. No explanation, just 4.5K of chocolate milk. So… on to plan B.

My dad and I headed to some private water accessed through The Fly Shop which my dad had fished (and enjoyed) previously. We didn’t need the guide for that, so he went his way and we made our way south to a private lake called Luk Lake.

It was cold and foggy, but there were fish. It was fun to row around the little lake and catch some fish with my dad. He actually caught more fish than me, which is one of those things that doesn’t happen too much these days. Another late birthday present.

My dad, hooked up.

My dad, hooked up.

While I was behind on numbers, I did manage to catch the biggest trout I’ve landed in a few years. Now… I wouldn’t say this is a wild fish, or a pretty fish, or a spectacular fish, but it was big. Sometimes you need a big, ugly, frankenfish and that’s pretty much what I got. This thing was fat with a broad back. You can see the tail is a mess and it has one of those snub noses indicating it grew too quickly. Still, it is a thrill to see that big, broad flash in the water when you see the flank of the fish for the first time.

Frankenfish trout.

Frankenfish trout.

The day was about fishing with my dad, something I get to do too seldom these days. You can never fish too much with your dad (I hope my daughter feels the same).

Here's to you dad.

Here’s to you dad.

Jun 11

Happy Father’s Day

I’m lucky.  My dad was/is pretty fantastic. When I look back at my childhood, I can only think of one time that I really felt let down by my dad.

I played lots of sports in high school.  I hadn’t found fly fishing yet and there wasn’t much else to do in Dunsmuir.  I was asked to play tennis by the tennis coach, who noticed I wasn’t playing baseball and I was tall and athletic.  I played.  I wasn’t good, but I played.

We were at a tournament in the small town of Etna and I was playing men’s doubles.  My dad was in the stands (really, it was just one little stand). I was at the net. A ball was coming high, I jumped to try and smash it… my timing was off.  The ball left the court… over the fence. It was not my finest moment.

“Home run!” I heard from the stands. It was my dad.  I was pissed. I hardly talked to him the whole ride home.

Funny thing… I can now see that I would probably be the dad to say “Home Run!” He was trying to be funny, as I often try to diffuse tense situations with humor.

My dad was there just about every game I ever played.  He missed 2 basketball games from the time I was in the 8th grade until my senior year in High School. Home games. Away games, some 3 hours away.  He was there.  My mom was usually there too, but this is Father’s Day.  It is kind of amazing that he went to all those games for all those years.

He also taught me to fish.  I had a rod in my hand at age 4 and he got me my first day of fly fishing guiding on the McCloud.

On the fishing trips we’ve had we’ve talked about deep subjects… God, life, love.  Good, good times.

My dad has turned into a great grandfather too, which shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but it still amazes me how much he loves his little granddaughter.

So… here’s to Dad.  I hope you all either had one just as fantastic, or are working hard to be that kind of dad yourselves… I know I am.