Mar 11

Godspeed Joe

The summer I really got into fly fishing I was home for the summer, in college, waiting for a year abroad in France.  I was working as a fire watch at a lumber mill and doing some bartending too.  I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew rivers and water from years of steelhead and gear fishing.  I was picking it up, tiny bit by tiny bit.  One place that really helped was the Ted Fay Fly Shop, located (at the time) a few blocks from where I grew up.  I had never noticed the fly shop, tucked into one corner of a pretty cheap motel.  I started making pretty regular appearances there and one of the guys I met there was Joe Kimsey.  Joe had been around for a long, long time.  He grew up in McCloud and after service in the Air Force (Korea and Vietnam) he returned to Dunsmuir.  He remembered the Upper Sac and McCloud Rivers from when they still had steelhead and salmon.  He was always quick with a joke and a handshake and he was just a joy.

The shop moved downtown and Joe remained a big part of the Ted Fay experience.  I few years ago his health started to fail and he was forced to leave the shop he had given so much of his life to.  I understand the owner of the shop (Bob Grace) and his wife would go down every Sunday to take Joe out to dinner.

When my dad got into fly fishing (the year after I did) Joe took us down to the river and showed us how Ted Fay had fished it.  Two flies, short line, lots of weight, high sticking right through the pockets.  I caught fish where I didn’t even know they could exist.  It was eye opening and it started me on a path that has been full of joy and adventure and exploration and so much of what I think of as the best parts of myself.

Joe passed on Thursday.

Godspeed Joe.  You will be missed.


The Trout Underground broke the news.

Dec 10

What Santa Brought Me (and Santa’s name is Bob)

So… my dad went in to the local fly shop and it turns out someone had come in recently and given Bob (the owner) a big box of saltwater flies.  Bob is more into prince nymphs and BWO’s and he just gave my dad the whole box to give to me.

I did the count last night… 1,048 flies… cockroaches, bendbacks, clousers, bonefish critters, bendbacks… dozens and dozens and dozens.

That there is a lot of flies... a LOT of flies.

I have a feeling I’ll be giving a fair number away to you good folks, but if someone wants a couple hundred flies in exchange for an old Galvan Torque or Nautilus… well… just say’n.

Hope Santa got you some nice gear, or, better yet, some air travel vouchers so you can go visit Butch, or Lori-Ann or Andrew.

Jun 10

Upper Sac Trout and HIGH Waters

I headed off North today with my 3.5 year old and dog.  My wife was on her way to NYC for business, so I went to go spend some time with Grandma and Grandpa.

The drive… well… there was a lot of screaming…

Yelling... a lot of yelling (see the flies in the back corner?)

Eventually, she got tired of screaming and let herself go to sleep.  Luckily, she only screamed for about 2 of the 5 hours.

We’ve had a really wet winter/spring here in Northern California and we needed it.  Driving over Shasta Reservoir and seeing all that water made me happy.  There should be some water left over for salmon and steelhead this year.

A full lake = happy fish

Always love this sight…

Mt. Shasta in her white blanket.

Luckily,  my daughter has grown to love fly shops.  Had to stop off at the Ted Fay Fly Shop for a few odds and ends.

An institution in Dunsmuir.

After arriving at my folks place and watching my daughter run to say hello to her grandparents I made a little scouting trip to see just how high the river was… WOW!  I’ve never seen the river with so much water at this point in the year.  That’s a LOT of water for the Upper Sac.

That there is a whole mess more water than is normally flowing in June.

Still… it wasn’t brown, just high.  When the river is high like that the amount of river you can fish is greatly reduced, but the amount of river the fish can find shelter in is also greatly reduced.  You just have to find a seam and go deep.

Could have used a couple more, really.

Hmmm… what should I throw?

Maybe a stonefly nymph?


Not big, but pretty.

Few folks would likely even try to fish the river at these flows… but it can be done.  I didn’t even put on waders, just stood on a rock and fished the same water for an hour.  Caught 2, lost 2.  On a normal day that would be a little bit of a slow strike rate, but, given the conditions, I’m pretty happy about it.

This isn’t a fishing trip, it is a family trip, so we’ll see how often I get to fish, but it was fun to see the river when it was angry and still manage to sweet talk a couple trout from her fast flowing currents.

Feb 10

Bonefish Taste and a Trout Budget

My wife made that comment last night on the phone… “You have bonefish taste and a trout budget.”

So true.

I still love trout.  They are here, which is one considerable Plus they have over bonefish.  Made it out again today for a couple hours on my home water (The Upper Sacramento) in a place I’ve fished at least 100 times, probably more.  Temps were cooler and so was the fishing.  Managed 2 fish in 2 hours, both small.  Did see a golden stone on the water and a great, big massive gray drake, but no noses.  All fish were caught on a 4 wt. and the reel was never in any danger of being tested.

The leaves have mostly fallen, the river is empty.  Love it.

The leaves have mostly fallen, the river is empty. Love it.

As I was out there not catching fish and watching my own breath I did think about how when I am getting my arse kicked some place tropical I seldom lose feeling in my toes.

I’m still hoping to get to Belize this summer with my dad, but we have to see how the tax man treats us and a variety of other, mostly financial, factors end up shaking out.

At my one-time local fly shop (I moved), the Ted Fay Fly Shop, I ran into Guide Fred Gordon who spent a couple weeks in Abaco just after I went to Grand Bahama.  Even in the heart of California trout country, I still see constant reminders of  bonefish… see, I have bonefish on the brain.