Aug 17

Winning the dad game with trout

I try to get camping at least once a year. Twice is ideal, once is sometimes all I can pull off. This year my wife and son came along (staying at my dad’s) to accompany my daughter, my brother, me and a few friends.

This was my first chance to catch a trout with my son (beyond him being in a backpack). It was pretty damn awesome.

As soon as he had a taste, he told me he wanted to do it himself. We aren’t there yet.

The girl got in on the action as well. She stuck a few trout, most without my direct involvement, which makes me prouder than is reasonable.

What a great weekend.

Aug 15

The killing of a trout

I went camping with my daughter and brother this last weekend. It was beautiful up there, really beautiful. Huge bonus… there are trout. Lots and lots of trout.

Photo by Anna

Photo by Anna

This trip I did something I haven’t done in a long time. I harvested a couple trout. They were hatchery trout, made to be taken out of the stream they were dumped into. Still, these were good looking trout. They were bigger than a fish in that water should really be and they were clumped up together in the way hatchery trout do. I took both trout out of the same pocket about 2 feet from one another.

The girl and a couple of hatchery trout, soon to be smoked.

The girl and a couple of hatchery trout, soon to be smoked.

My daughter was there. She’d never seen me kill anything other than spiders. She was a little cavalier about it and I had to try to get across the seriousness of what I was doing. I talked to her about having respect for the fish, for the life I/we were taking. I don’t know if she got it or not, but it was an important conversation.

I remember, as a kid, maybe her age, opening up the stomach of a young steelhead, a half-pounder (we don’t harvest steelhead anymore), and having my dad tell me what the different organs were and showing me what the fish had been eating. I remember that well.

I don’t know if the same messages were passed down or if I did it as well (um… is that the liver?), but it was something important to do.

So, thank you trout, for your life.

Sep 14

The Other Girl Smacks Some Trout in Montana

After my 7 year old squeezed 20 trout out of a Montana creek it seemed like a great idea to take my wife out to that very same creek to get her some fish as well.

Turns out it was a good idea.

She wanted to get five and she got five. Pretty much the perfect ending to the trip. For the beginning fly fisher, there are few places better than a creek… especially a creek with cutthroat.

Just beautiful (and full of willing fish)

Just beautiful (and full of willing fish)

Montana has a similar effect to the Bahamas. I feel very much at home there, even though my life is somewhere else, and I’m happy with my life.

It felt like a very Montana week. I shot some skeet and trap. I floated the Kootenai. I saw a bull moose a couple times and loads of deer. I scooted the girl around on the ATV for a bit. My daughter got 20 trout. A pretty excellent week.



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Aug 14

The Girl Crushes It In Montana

I have fished from an early age. It runs in the family. I started fly fishing when I was 21 and I had my first truly magical day of fly fishing when I was 24. That day I fished the Lower McCloud with Fred Gordon and had 20+ fish for the first time.

Today, my daughter caught, on her own, 20 trout on a little creek near my in-law’s house in Montana. She is 7.5 years old.

The girl with one of many

The girl with one of many

I’m still shocked by it all. I wanted to find a little creek for her that would be easier to get around in than the main Yaak and we found exactly that. Most of the fish were cutties, one rainbow, one brookie. They all succumbed to the same hopper pattern, now battered and bruised. Battle tested.

She was over the moon and so was I. None of the fish were big, but they were her fish. They were caught on her casts, her drifts and her hook sets. She also unhooked a couple of her own fish today for the first time. Milestones galore.

I told her the problem with catching 20 fish is people won’t believe her. It is something that sounds like it could be made up.

This is a girl who caught her first fish by herself earlier in the summer and now, at the close of the summer, she knocks out TWENTY.

What can I say… I’m one proud dad right now.

A very good day

A very good day


— the comments appear to be broken right now. I’m trying to figure out what happened.

Jul 14

The girl gets a fish

It was a big day… for her, for me… her first fish… on her own. She made the cast, she set the hook, she got the fish in.

The girl, the sass, the trout.

The girl, the sass, the trout.

A gift from the Upper McCloud River, one of many it has given me.

I’m pretty stoked on how that all went down. It felt like a milestone, for both of us.

Aug 13

Ten things I love about you, Trout Edition

  1. You were my first love. When I came to fly fishing, it was trout I encountered, pursued and caught. They changed my life.
  2. Wading a river. I love getting in a river, walking around, getting to know it. I call these kinds of rivers intimate rivers. I’d rather fish an intimate river than any other kind.

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

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

  3. Fly Shops. I’m talking about the good ones. A shop where you are greeted when you walk in, if you are a stranger or a regular. You can always get some good advice and a bit of conversation. They have what you need and don’t try to sell you anything you don’t. I love those places and try to give them business whenever I can.

    An institution in Dunsmuir.

    An institution in Dunsmuir.

  4. Small trout. Small trout are simply beautiful creatures, so finely painted and adorned. They are one of Nature’s masterpieces.

    Tiny and wonderful.

    Tiny and wonderful.

  5. Bad weather. When the rain rolls in the fishing doesn’t stop. In fact, it is one of my favorite times to be out there. It feels like you earn it more when you are out in the soup and everyone else is off the water.
  6. The ritual of it. Cast. Drift. Step. Cast. Drift. Step. It is a wonderful cadence and it pushes everything else from your mind.
  7. Dry flies. Watching a fish gently rise off the bottom of a river and sip your dry fly off the surface is just a fantastic sight.
  8. That one fish. Trout fishing gives you a chance to work on one fish for an hour and to finally catch it. That’s a pretty satisfying thing when it all comes together.
  9. The Puzzle. You can catch a trout with a dry fly, a nymph, a swinging wet fly or a streamer. Should you fish dry/dropper or nymph and if you nymph how deep, how many split shot and what set up? There are so many variables and in trout fishing you get to put them all into your mental matrix and try and figure out the right answer. Every day on a trout stream is trying to solve a puzzle.

    That should do the trick...

    That should do the trick…

  10. Getting geared up. I love all the gear. I love my 5 different boots in the garage, my chest pack, my wading staff, my waders. I love the fly boxes and nippers and all the bits and pieces that fill up the back of your car. I love the 5 different rods I have in the garage which I could use to pursue trout. I love the simplicity of the gear too… how I can head out to wet wade with only a few flies and split shot too. There is so much gear around and everyone had an opinion on it, strong feelings and everyone can be right for what works best for them, for how they fish, for how they move in, on or through a river.

Aug 13

Five things I hate about you, Trout Edition

Just to keep up the theme…

  1. Tiny flies. I hate tiny flies. If it is going to take a #24, I don’t want to catch it. I don’t want to play that game.
  2. Light tippets. Now, I pretty much do most of my trout fishing with 3x (5x for dries), but there are times I know I should be fishing lighter. I refuse to fish 7x and 6x is even a stretch for me. I want to set the hook and not pop off the fly.
  3. Poison Oak. I. Hate. Poison. Oak.

    Take that.

    Take that.

  4. Fishing behind people. So many times I’ve turned a corner to find someone there… meaning I’ve been fishing in their shadow for the past x minutes/hours. Usually that explains the poor fishing.
  5. That one fly shop I don’t shop at. You know the one… the one where there is just an air of condescension pouring out of the early 20 something fly shop guy who is working at the shop as a break from his snow boarding career. I love fly shops, but not the ones like that. I hate those places. As you pull into a new town to fish some new river you don’t know if it is going to be one of those or the other kind, the kind I love… which I bet we’ll get to tomorrow.

Aug 13

For the love of small fish

In 2010 I caught what I bet will be my smallest bonefish ever. I was in Belize, out in back of El Pescador on the last day I had of fishing. My buddy Shane was with me, crushing me on the fish count. I was struggling to find the fish and I was finding sealing the deal to be a challenge.

I knew where the fish should have been, so I just cast over there, blind. I was rewarded with a bonefish I think was maybe 7″ long. I have not caught a smaller bone since. I certainly haven’t seen one that small anywhere. It was interesting to see, really. The bones of Belize are usually a bit smaller than Bahamian bones, but this fish was tiny. I think I was maybe a bit embarrassed about it and didn’t take a picture. Now, I wish I had.

It didn’t really look too different from a larger bone. It was just miniature.

For trout, it isn’t like that. Small trout are usually more vibrant in their coloration than the adults. A small trout is one of natures most beautiful things. Some of the places I fish are full of tiny, tiny trout. I find them stunning. I don’t mind that they are small. I know they are wild and I know they are beautiful.

Tiny and wonderful.

Tiny and wonderful.

What’s the smallest bone you’ve caught?

Jul 13

A cool thing about trout fishing

While up at my folks’ place last weekend I got out for a couple hours on my home water. One thing struck me which I really like about trout fishing and you don’t get on a bonefish flat… seeing a trout come up and take a dry fly from 8 feet away. Seeing the fish slide up and pick your fly off the surface of the water and then submerge… that’s just cool.

upper sac trout july

This fish at a dry.

Trout fishing, for me, is done largely within a ring of 15 feet or so. Most fish are actually caught within 8. You are right there, right next to the fish, even if you can’t see it.

Some folks catch bonefish that close in, but it is a rarity. For me, it is a rarity to catch a trout at anything like the normal distance I routinely catch a bonefish at. Trout are up close and personal.

The slightly ironic part is that while the trout is so close, I can’t see them in the water, while the bonefish is at 50′ and I can see the even out at 10X the distance.

I do like high sticking a dry fly in a pocket and seeing the fish take the fly. It reminds me, ever so gently, why I started to really love fly fishing in the first place.

Jul 13

A trip home

Grandparent Camp was ending and I needed to go collect my girl. Of course, there was time on the water.

First, there was time on the water with my girl… which is always time well spent. We tried to get out of the heat by heading up a few thousand feet. We probably bought 10 degrees with 3,500 feet, but it was still 91.

The creek was small and as clear as liquid air, but the fish were clearly visible, even without polarized lenses. I brought the girl down (on my back) and we went up river finding fish, playing a bit, looking for bugs and just generally exploring. My dad came with us and managed to get a couple photos too.

Stalking some trout, together.

Stalking some trout, together.

Gumboot Lake, at about 6,000 feet. Pretty.

Gumboot Lake, at about 6,000 feet. Pretty.

We made our way up to Gumboot Lake and played around a little. It had been about 10 years since I had been up that way and my dad didn’t think he had ever been there. It was a nice little lake. Wish I was going back this weekend too.

Exploring the lake.

Exploring the lake.

It was a fun little trip up into the higher elevations.

The next day my folks took my girl to church so they could show her off to their friends. I can understand that desire and so I was happy for them to take her along. I used that time to visit my own holy ground, my home water. I wet waded and found the water a bit colder than I expected for mid-July. It wasn’t too bad though and I was just happy to be picking my way up my favorite bit of pocket water on the planet.

Sooooo pretty.

Sooooo pretty.


More pretty

More pretty

Yeah… I like this place.

upper sac trout july

I like it.

They say you can’t go back home again… but you can.