Nov 14

The Post-Game Plan

Let’s be clear, I’m not going anywhere any time soon. This is not an announcement of any kind.

I saw a Facebook post from a friend about a biodegradable urn that would convert your physical form into a tree. Pretty cool idea, really.

I have a different plan for what I want done.

I want to both share some of my special places with my kids/wife and to be a part of those same places. I envision a tour of my most beloved waters with a little bit of my ashes deposited in each place.

  • The Upper Sacramento River – My home water, where I learned to fly fish. Specifically, the riffle just below the Prospect Ave access point. That has been one of the best spots to me and for me through the years.
From April

From April

  • The McCloud River – Beauty and solitude and emerald green waters. Love this place. I think I’d hope to be deposited in the camp waters behind the Ah Di Nah campground.
The McCloud... Upstate California, from a trip in 2011.

The McCloud… Upstate California, from a trip in 2011.

  • The Babine River – There is a hole on the Babine named Strom’s Pool, named after my grandfather. I only fished it once and I didn’t land a fish there, but it would be fitting to leave part of myself there.
My daughter's middle name is Babine... for a reason.

My daughter’s middle name is Babine… for a reason.

  • Grand Bahama – This is where I caught my first bonefish, right behind Deep Water Cay with an independant guide from Mclean’s town.
Bone in GBI

Bone in GBI

  • Belize, El Pescador – My grand slam and my honeymoon. Some fantastic memories.

bks and renee with bonefish Belize

I think if my children got to go on that pilgrimage they should find something they love along the way.

Here’s to hoping they make that trip in 40 years.

Jul 12

I like the way this is shaping up

I was up near Mt. Shasta again this last weekend with both my girls (daughter and fiancee) to see my folks. There was a beer festival, a patio boat picnic and a little river time planned and that is exactly what came to pass.

This was my fiancee’s introduction to fly fishing (or any kind of fishing) and I made sure she didn’t feel too much pressure.  I told her “I don’t need you to love this, I just need you to understand why I do.” She was game, which was a nice starting position.

With light expectations on the line, we headed off to the Upper McCloud River.  The Upper McCloud is very different in character from the Lower McCloud.  The Upper is less remote, shallower, narrower and home to much smaller fish. Basicaly, it is a great place to start out.

I got Renee all decked out and we were ready. I got her the shirt, some quick dry pants and a pair of wading boots. I figured the waders could wait until it wasn’t 95 degrees out. That was a good call.

Renee at Middle Falls

My fiancee is actually Dr. Fiancee and as you might guess, she’s pretty smart.  She also turns out to be a good student and it wasn’t long before she was hooking fish on dry flies.  Her first “landed” fish was a small fish that we got to touch the leader on, but it got off before the photo op. In the first hour she hooked 4 and landed 1.

We met my folks (who brought my daughter) after lunch and Renee was still interested in fishing.  With no prodding she picked up the rod and started fishing again and it was then that she landed her biggest fish and got it all the way in.

She caught it, but wasn’t keen on touching it just yet. That will come.

I brought a bucket along so my daughter could see the fish.  That was a hit.


It was a great afternoon on the water, fishing next to my future wife and having my little girl so thrilled to be there, soaking up the wilderness, and my folks there enjoying their grandchild. At dinner on the way home I asked my daughter her favorite part of the trip and she said it was getting to see the fish in the bucket.  Yes… that did not hurt my feelings.

All said, a pretty awesome weekend. I rather like the way this Marriage #2 is shaping up.

Beautiful Country.

When I asked Renee what she thought of fishing she answered:

I liked it more than I thought I would. I really enjoyed standing in the river.

A woman after my own heart. Now, in under two months she’ll be casting to bonefish.  That might blow her mind.

May 12

A weekend on the home waters

I love bonefishing and tropical places but I really can’t get away from being a mountain boy at heart. My rivers are still dear to me and I was glad to share them with one of the guys I met down in Cuba this past weekend.  I picked Matt Hansen up in Santa Rosa after work on Friday and kept heading North until we arrived in Dunsmuir, my home town and where my parents still live.

Saturday morning we had breakfast at the house with my folks and then we ran down to the Ted Fay Fly Shop to talk to Bob and hear how things were fishing. The Ted Fay Fly Shop is a great shop, key to my entry into fly fishing, and I’m glad they moved downtown a few years back.  Bob told us that someone had stated, “the McCloud was the most crowded I’ve ever seen.”  That wasn’t good news as the McCloud is sometimes referred to as the McCrowd for its tendency to have an angler in every run at certain times of year. It didn’t sound ideal, but that is where I wanted to go, so we went anyway.

I-5 to 89 to the lake to the dirt road headed down toward the river. We got down to Ah Di Nah and decided to take a tour of the campground to see how bad things were.

There was almost no one there.  Two tents and one still had the people in them. We stopped there and started off upstream.

The McCloud is one of the most beautiful places you can hope to see or experience. I know Montana is wonderful and Oregon is beautiful and then there are the flats of Andros and the expanses of Cuba and the mangrove lined channels of Belize… but I’d put the McCloud up against any of them.

Luckily it isn’t only beautiful, it has pretty little fish and they started cooperating almost immediately.  The crowded river was ours. We picked our way along the banks, up and over the boulders, through the brush (avoiding the staggering amounts of Poison Oak). We didn’t see another rod waving above us for 3/4 of the day.

After I felt I’d caught “enough” on nymphs I decided to put on a stimie and see what would come up.  The answer was very un-California like. Fish started rising at 2:00 to a big, bushy dry fly.

The Elusive Blurry McCloud Rainbow (I need a better camera).

I sometimes feel like my rivers have personalities and, maybe even feelings. I think they get a little mad when I don’t see them, when I ignore them. They can act a little hurt if they feel slighted.

I was glad the McCloud wasn’t upset with me.  In fact, it seemed to welcome me back with open arms.

We fished up the canyon from pool to run to riffle, tracking back toward the source.  We turned one bend and found the sun hidden by the steep walls of the canyon and something seemed to have switched off.  Despite putting decent numbers in the book, I just had a feeling the fishing was done.  Matt had a similar feeling and we just decided to find the trail and head back.

A wonderful day.

Matt really appreciated the beauty of the place and it is always nice to share something special with someone who gets it.

The McCloud... Upstate California, from a trip in 2011.

Next up… the Upper Sac where the pictures were better and the fishing was slow.

Nov 09

McCloud River, no bonefish


I like this place.

Made it to the McCloud River today with buddy Shane to prospect for bonefish.  Once again I was foiled in my bonefishy pursuit! Drat!

Since we were there, we figured we might as well do some trout fishing.  It was November and this was the McCloud (which closes on the 15th).  Turns out, there are still trout in the McCloud.


Nice fish, an honest 18"

The colors were out too…


More purdiness.

There was more than one trout in the river, as it turns out.  I find this good news.


Look! A trout! What are the odds?!

This was the McCloud Preserve, The Nature Conservancy property.  It is such a beautiful place.  All 10 tags were out today (including the two of us).  Fish were mostly on either eggs or smallish, pt-ish, buggy things.

There were approximately 12 Billion October Caddis bouncing among the tree  tops along the banks and about 3 on the water.  There were about 28 hundred million thousand little black winter stoneflies and about 3 different species of mayflies out, including one, lone Pink Albert.  None of these bugs were being eaten on the surface.

I threw streamers a bit and had a follow from a fish that was large enough to loose an involuntary bowel movement or two.  It didn’t eat.  Tease.

The average fish was bigger today… a delightful day.  Plenty of fish caught, beautiful fall colors, fishing with a good friend.  No complaints.

I will continue to search for Bonefish in my home waters… I’m sure if I want it bad enough I can make it happen.  Right?