Dedicated to the relentless pursuit of fish on the fly. Welcome to the obsession, I hope you enjoy the pics and ramblings. If you like what you see (or really don't), feel free to drop me an email at And when you're done, get your waders on and get out there, cause the only way to catch 'em is with your bug in the water.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Light My Fire

With Christmas just around the corner and practically no time to fish at the moment, I thought I'd share an old story. I'm sitting here watching the snow fall in frozen Wyoming and thinking back to adventures long past. Every year about this time this one creeps back into the forefront of my memory and lingers through the winter months, a constant companion to keep the fires going. Merry Christmas everyone and remember, the best things are most often those we never expect. I hope you enjoy...

I stared in disbelief. No more than ten feet from me, a huge dark shadow slid through the water. As it passed by the light from the dock glinted off its side just before it slipped back into the darkness. I sat and stared at the water for what felt like forever, hoping to see it again. Another flash caught my eye, a different one, maybe larger. Or was it the shadows playing with me? Hard to tell. I sat and waited. Then I saw it, another shape emerging from the dark. It was close, close enough to see a huge greenish gold eye catch the light just below the surface. It was December 18th, and I was in trouble.

As a kid, the holidays always meant drunk relatives watching football, way too much food, and most importantly, the much anticipated week off from school for Christmas. I wasn’t particularly fond of sitting in class and the annual holiday break was about the best gift I could get. This usually meant more time sitting in a duck blind in misery, but that beat math or history hands down. This particular year however, my parents surprised my brother and I with a family trip to the Caribbean. It was to be a week spent on the beach, snorkeling, bumming around, and generally wasting time. At 15 years old, this was a far better option than sitting frozen in a duck blind. Visions of beach babes and mischief danced through my hormone addled brain. This was going to be awesome.

I made it exactly one day before my plans of finding the babe of my dreams were abandoned. Heading back from the beach long after dark, the rhythm of a steel drum band still echoing across the water, I passed by the small marina. A splash drew my attention to the water. Funny, I didn’t see anyone there, and whatever it was couldn’t have been a fish. It was too loud for that. I walked down the gas dock to the end, where a single light shone on the water. It was there that I first saw them, mirrored scales along sleek sides slinking in and out of the shadows. I didn’t know what they were or how I was going to do it, but they were here, they were huge, and I was going to catch one no matter what it took.

For some reason I figured it would be easy, just walk up, cast, and reel in fish. Apparently I forgot about the fact that I’d more or less given up on fishing a few years prior and had certainly never fished for anything like these. With no experience and no guidance I set out to catch one of the beasts with a beat up old rig I managed to scrounge up. I quickly found out I was wrong. I somehow hooked one up before too long, and immediately realized how poorly prepared I was. I lost every ounce of cockiness I had that first night. By the time it was over I was exhausted and humbled. I was certainly glad that nobody else was there to witness the beating I had taken. Over the next several nights I kept at it, always hopeful for that one fish to cooperate. Sometimes I’d get takes, but usually that big bucket mouth would stay sealed shut as the fish swam up to, then past my offerings. If it did open, I’d miss the hookset, break it off, or have the hook fly back in my face on the first jump. My little sideshow on the dock held the rest of my family’s interest for a few nights, but eventually they gave up on seeing something exciting. I kept at it though, trying this and that, changing the retrieve and presentation, watching for the fish’s reaction. Maybe I wasn’t missing school after all.

It all came down to the last night. It was now or never. They were there, I knew now that they came in for the baitfish that were attracted to the light. I’d cast, retrieve, nothing. The shadows went about their business as usual, glinting here and there when the light touched their scales just right. It got later and later with nothing happening. I stopped looking for specific fish and started blind casting into the dark, beyond the light’s reach. Suddenly, my line came tight. There was an unbelievable pull and the reel was singing before I knew what happened. Through the darkness I could see the fish launch out of the water and crash back down. It ran back towards, then past me and I knew I was in trouble. It was big, bigger than anything I’d ever hooked. There was no way this was going to happen. I was reeling like mad, breathing hard, and sweating profusely in the humid tropical air. I’d catch up on the slack line just in time to have it ripped back out. One way, now the other the fish ran. Forever went by and still it fought, every leap and tug threatening to snap my ratty leader. My fingers wrapped white knuckle around the rod grip, the butt digging into my stomach, I started to laugh. Somewhere in the distance the steel drum band was still playing, their rendition of Feliz Navidad echoing across the beach. It was Christmas Eve and I was getting the best gift I could ask for.

Whether I landed it or not doesn’t really matter at this point, but I’d like to thank you, Mr. Megalops, for that gift. Better than missing school, better than anything wrapped up in paper under a tree, better even than beach babes, you gave me an education and rekindled the fire.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Latest

Ok, here I am, back in Pinedale again. Since returning from AK I've had limited internet access, so here's a quick recap of the highlights from the past month and a half. West Yellowstone, the Upper Green, and a few other unnamed floats produced some nice fish and it was great to get back out with old friends to beat up on some worthy trout. I did say quick. With plans to head down to the gorge on hold due to an impending storm this weekend, the fly tying activity has gone through the roof. I've promised myself I won't buy any more tying materials until everything I've got is gone, but we'll see how long that lasts. Ever wonder why the one thing you need is always what you don't have? I suppose that supports creativity. Also, with the holidays just around the corner, check out the new issue of BloodKnot Magazine at Yours truly has a piece featured regarding Thanksgiving. Until next time...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My spidey senses are tingling

So if you've read the "sometimes ridiculous" description at the top of the page, it's crap like this that I'm talking aboout. When you catch a billion pink salmon in a month, you just have to make it interesting.

I would just like to take this opportunity to say that if you haven't tried Rio Gold fly line, you're missing out. The stuff is so F'n good you don't even need a rod. Well, you might want a rod.

Friday, September 10, 2010


It's official. Not a steelhead. But I like this picture of it, so you get to see the fish again. Lots of hard feelings to Bill and Larry for actually agreeing on this one. You could've at least lied to me, I was all excited. They're probably right, although Cali G&F has been known to be questionable from time to time....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Well, they're not all here but a few will do for now. I'm not talking about pinks, chums, dollies or rainbows. They're Cohos and they're about the most fun you can have with your pants on around here. Take a fish shaped missile, add two parts piss and one part vinegar and you're starting to arrive at the idea. Not only will these guys burn your fingers and make your drag scream, they'll hit the eject button, go airborne, and launch your fly back in your face just about the same time you think they're finally going to come in. That is of course if they don't shake it or break it off somewhere between the first 5 or 6 jumps and the violent cyclone they create while actually in the water.

A typical fight:
Set Hook. Have line ripped out of hand. Spout expletives. Smash knuckles on reel knob spinning at speed of light. Louder expletives. Try to figure out how the fish went from where he was to where he is now, flying through the air. Spout more expletives. Helplessley watch fish use next 3-5 jumps to spit hook, land on it, re-hook himself in an inconvenient spot like a fin, and wrap leader around self several times. Reel in, bringing calm fish toward shore. Watch fish slowly unroll from wrapped up leader. Smash knuckles on reel again. More expletiv....
You get the point. Watch out. In fact, it'd probably be safer to just stay where you are and let us handle it. We'll be happy to take care of it.

Oh yeah, almost forgot.
Steelhead? I'm up for opinions on this one, totally white mouth, 12 rays on the anal fin, squared tail. The dark stuff you can see in the mouth is sea lice, her tongue was full of 'em. She kicked my ass all over that creek, harder than any of the other coho. I'm inclined to say steel, but others know more than I on this one, so let me know what you think.

Monday, August 16, 2010

White River

The White's been fishing well despite the downright hot temperatures we've been having and just about everyone's catching fish. One of my clients, Michele, was kind enough to send some of her pics from her family's trip last week. They put the hurt on the pinks and hauled in a few pigs. Great job guys, I hope you all had as good a time as I did. Oh and Bill, I hope you remembered to brush your teeth.

Droppin' Bottom

The pursuit of rockfish has taken us to new lows. Literally. We've gone beyond the limits of fly gear and started plumbing the depths for new sea monsters. What will you find at 300' down? All sorts of wacky stuff. It seems 300 feet is a great depth for yelloweye rockfish, also known as red snapper.

There's a few halibut down there as well, lucky for us this one wasn't much bigger or it would still be swimming and we would have a few repairs to do.

We also found out that if you are in a big school of salmon in shallow water and want a bigger tug on the line, just drop some big dead herring looking thing on the bottom and hang on. Way to go Jo, you wrastle that doggie.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Poundin' Pinks

It was finally playtime today, with an afternoon off and the pinks going bonkers. There's a big variety of fish in now, from freshies still carrying sea lice (not really as gross as it sounds) to some of the earlier arrivals that have started to hump up and.....change. It really is freakish how fast they go through an extreme body modification from this:

To this:

I mean, it's shocking. I put that fish down in the water, picked it back up, and that's what had happened. Ok, not really. That's really a matter of a week or so in fresh water, and they're not done yet. Anyway, more to follow on that. The action on these fiesty buggers has been hot, with the right moves you can't keep them off your line and there's plenty of bang for the buck. Given enough room, some of the freshies are stripping my 7wt. to backing and earning every inch of it. The 3wt. has seen some action as well, although after popping a few on it I had to give the arm a break. It's a hell of a lot of fun, I highly recommend it.

It's back to the ruckus again tomorrow, with every guide booked and ready to rock 'n roll. There'll be flies zingin' every which way, bears divebombing schools off the banks, and plenty of busted knuckles. We've got more fish moving up by the minute and pretty soon we'll be just about able to two step across 'em they're stackin up so thick. Saddle up pardners, it's time to rodeo.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's On!

Finally, after waiting much too long, they're here. The pinks have arrived in good numbers and while they're not quite smashing flies, at least they're biting enough to entertain with a lively fight. I've been out the past few days with some great folks, some of whom have never seen a salmon before, let alone hooked up with one. They had a blast and between the fish and the bears everybody's left with a smile.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Why don't you come down here and chum some of this shi...

Enough of this trout nonsense. I wasn't leaving the creek yesterday until I caught a salmon. So I did, then I left. Being Sunday and rather nice out, every goon with a rod was out flogging the water into submission. Not surprisingly, nobody that I saw was catching much of anything in the way of trout. It seems that when they get pounded over the head all day they stop eating. Imagine that. It was time to up the ante. Launching my own shock and awe campaign, I swung giant streamers at the chums that have moved up until I connected. For the unfamiliar, nobody fishes for chums. There's a number of reasons for this: they're not lively fighters, they don't strike often, and they're no good eating. Hence the name chum. As far as I'm concerned, they're 20 times bigger than any of the trout in there, they're actually challenging, and they're gorgeous. Maybe it's the carp chaser in me, but it just had to happen, even the losers need some lovin from time to time. After working this fish for a good twenty minutes, he finally got agitated enough and slammed his jaws shut on my fly. He then proceeded to take off downstream and made me chase him a good hundred yards or more, right through the hole that a couple of dudes were letting tiny trout embarass them in. One of them got quite a kick out of the fact that I'd actually gotten a chum to eat, let alone land the thing. The other dude seemed a bit miffed that I wrecked his hole. What he didn't seem to realize was that he had no chance to begin with, being the 4th person that I'd seen pound that spot in the last hour. He didn't look like he had a clue what he was doing anyway, when I interrupted him he shot me a nasty glare and simply turned around and started casting his dry fly straight downstream. Awesome. Sorry pal, I'm not breaking my rod for you and there was no way I was going to break off that fish for your sake. Combat fishing rule number one: there are no rules. My only problem at this point: one handed camera work with a seriously pissed off fish in the other.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rock Fish

The salmos (ok, oncorhynchi technically) are still being stubborn and not coming in so I headed out this afternoon with Lance (Minnesotean extraordinaire) in his Zodiac to go find whatever we could find. We motored a few miles up the coast to check out a creek that I'd eyeballed on Google Earth and proceeded to find nothing but crab pots. Being in a clump of islands, we figured there had to be fish around somewhere and utilizing the latest in ultra techy fish finder gear we were able to find fish of some unknown species in 60 to 180 feet of water. Yesssssss. I know what you're thinking, and yes, that's a hell of a lot of water to drop a fly down. Lance had no qualms about dropping a big fish-shaped chunk of lead or something and proceeded to nail what we think is a Quillback Rockfish.

The AK G&F rockfish ID guide is pretty poor, so "we think" is about as close as we're getting on this one. Not to be outdone, and of course packing my arsenal of piscatorial terrorism for the trip, I rigged up the 300 gr. sinking line and started plumbing the depths. In a matter of a few minutes we BOTH limited out. Yep, you read that right, I used the phrase "limited out" when referring to myself. Unfortunately for us and the fish, the rules up here require you to keep all non-pelagic rockfish because of a fun little physiological quirk. The swim bladders in these guys don't adjust very quickly, and when you bring them up they tend to experience a bit of decompression, aka internal hemmoraging from which they probably won't recover. Soooo legally you've got to keep them. The only real problem, as I later discovered, is that being a non-resident, I can only keep, and therefore only fish until I catch two. Yep, two. This is a problem for three reasons. One: It makes me stop fishing. Two: They're damn good eating and I want to eat more. (I'm of the opinion that AK just hates non resident types. Don't believe me? Check out the regs some time.) And three: It's going to take me a long ass time to catch all the different species of these things if I can only catch two fish on any given day. Laaaaaaaaame.

Another fun factoid: Rockfish are equipped with spines on their dorsal fin which pack a nice little surprise. Not only are they extremely sharp, they have a nice toxin in them that burns like a bastard if you get stuck. They're also equipped with spines on their other fins and gill plates that don't pack the same punch but will tear you up.
Tomorrow's plan: rock fish.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Let the chaos begin....

It's officially guide season here and the past week has been going pretty well. Well for the salmon not being in yet, that is. It's been trout for the time being, with a fly out and some on-island trips this past week. Native cuts and rainbows are smashing flies and I've had the pleasure of getting some rookies hooked up for the first time. It's business as usual in the fly world here, man does this job suck. I just hate playing with fish in some of the coolest settings on earth. Hehehe. Come on out and play, the only way to get 'em is with your fly in the water.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Ok, so the mottled green and brown thing in the picture from the last post that looks a lot like a sculpin is actually.....a sculpin. Apparently they do get that big. So congrats to me, I got a couple bigass sculpins. Oh well, it was fun and they wiggled, so take that, naysayers. Enjoy your mockery while I'm beating up on Coho tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


It's June in southeast Alaska and it's a bit of a change from dusty Wyoming. As I sit and eat breakfast I can look out the window and watch the cruise ships rolling into the harbor. Pretty soon the float planes are buzzing about and the docks are crawling with tourists despite the intermittent rain showers. I'm able to see all this because the house I'm in is on a really steep hill. It's so steep in fact, that our "street" is actually just a wooden staircase that runs several hundred feet up from the bottom of the hill to our parking lot at the top. We have intersections on this street, other similarly styled "streets" with mailboxes and trashcans and such, complete with street signs and everything. It's a bit of a departure from what I'm used to, as I said.

With the shop getting geared up for trips as well as our private areas opening up soon I've been prepping base camp, repairing gear, getting licenses sorted out, and checking out new water. Somewhere in all the chaos I've found the time to get into some coastal cutthroat and even a few gigantic sculpins. Actually they're saltwater rockfish, but they look just like monstrous sculpins if you ask me. The trout are keying up on the salmon fry that are recently hatched as well as a variety of stoneflies. The rockfish seem to be more interested in whatever furry bunny strip concoction you can put in front of them on a sinking line. Finding time is a bit of a joke around here, with somewhere around 19 hours of light to work with you can get a hell of a lot done in a day. Like fish in the rain or eat crabs. Lots of crabs.

The Cohos are staging in the creek mouths and it'll just be a few days now before the first fish make their run up into the fresh water and all hell breaks loose. Until then, I'm going to try to catch as many different species of rockers on a fly as possible. I know once the salmon really get thick I'll forget about the saltwater species for a while so now's the time. There are lots of them, so it could be interesting.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Little Piece of Paradise

I know of a place that is the stuff of legend. I often think of it when I’m fishing my usual waters, wondering how it is. Surely, I’d be doing much better if I was there. After a long day on the river I sometimes yearn to get back there and redeem myself for my mediocre performance today. The water is clean, cold, and gin-clear. Stalking the banks holds endless sight-fishing opportunity with hordes of rainbows and browns in every riffle and pool. You’ll rarely find yourself crowded, in fact some times of the year you can be the only soul for miles on this beautiful river. Sheer red walls plummet hundreds of feet to meet the deep emerald water. Monsters lurk in the shadowy depths and even in the coldest months countless noses lazily sip insects caught in the surface film. It may truly be a trout angler’s paradise.

Preparing for a trip there involves checking every piece of gear, tying a bunch of new flies, and setting the coffee pot for some ungodly hour. The pre-dawn departure is accompanied by hushed excitement, the anticipation of epic fishing growing with each bleary-eyed sip of coffee. The dog knows something good is coming, she can feel it. She may not know where you’re going, but she knows the truck is full of gear and that can only mean one thing.

With an arsenal of rods, flies, and other miscellaneous gear strapped all over, you’ll head down the footpath to the water and suddenly remember just how damn hard this place is. In all the daydreaming, planning, and driving you somehow forgot how badly you were beat down last time. Those hundreds of fish sipping lazily didn’t want anything to do with whatever you were throwing. Every fly you had with you was ten times too big or too small, too flashy or too dull. Every piece of fishy-looking water produced nothing but frustration, tangles, and lost flies. Your footsteps on the bank spooked fish from forty yards. You fell in the thirty-seven degree water miles from the truck. You went through every dry, nymph, and streamer on hand and the one bug that consistently got takes failed to hook up every time because the hook had broken and you never thought to check it.

Never mind all that, you think, this time it’ll be different. I’m ready for it now, bring it on. So you creep along the bank, keeping the dog far from the water. You spot the day’s first rises gently breaking the surface long before you notice any bugs. You can make out the shapes of trout just below the glare, feeding on nymphs or the occasional dry. So you’ll tie the smallest emerger you’ve got onto the longest, lightest leader you can put together and pray that just one of those fish wants it. Moving ever so slowly, you’ll creep up to the edge and make the most gentle presentation the world has ever seen. The drift will be perfect, right down the alley. And that’s how it will go all day; creep, cast, curse, repeat.

Eventually you’ll have to sit down and ponder just what the hell you’re doing here. It’s frustrating, demoralizing, and enough to drive you mad. But sit long enough and at some point you may realize that this truly is a trout angler’s paradise. Not because you can go and beat up on fish all day but because you’ve got to be dialed. This isn’t the stocked pond behind the golf course. It’s unforgiving and will shut you down more often than not if you let it. But the more you fail, the more you learn, and at some point the 7x doesn’t look so small, the micro currents become more obvious, and the 14 incher is every bit as rewarding as the 22. Well, almost.

I won't be able to get back there for a long while, Alaska is a bit too far to drive from. While I'm sure the ridiculous fishing up there will be a ton of fun, I'll be looking forward to another beatdown when I get back.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Small Fish, Big Attitude

I met up with Colter Bennett today to head down to Fontenelle Reservoir and stare at water all day. We did eventually get into a bunch of smallies that put up an insane fight for their size which was a nice bonus to add to the nice weather that has finally arrived. Aaaah yes, there aren't too many things I enjoy more than hammering fish on the 7wt. Hopefully I'll have time to get back out before heading north, but we'll see.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blackfoot Carp Classic 6

After leaving Wisco wednesday night and driving straight through, Andrew and I rolled into Blackfoot Reservoir about midnight thursday. We were greeted friday morning by an excited Scott Sanchez and crew, already plotting on how they were going to get the varmint cong (chislers, not carp). Heading to the center of camp, we ran into Currier, Trey, and Bennie who were already eager to wet a line. Breakfast was already underway and the rest of the teams were gathering around the staging area, ready to go. It looked to be some pretty stiff competition with a bunch of experienced anglers who know their goldfish.

It was a pretty good turnout, about a dozen teams showed up despite the horrible weather and even lousier fishing. Within about a half hour of leaving the start, the wind picked up and soon there were whitecaps across the entire reservoir. Not exactly ideal for carp fishing. I only spotted three fish throughout the day and with the temperature dropping not many teams weighed in. Ironically enough, shortly after weigh-in the wind practically stopped and I managed to get a few shots of Sanchez and Mike Whitcomb working a pod of feeding fish.

Theeeen the rain rolled in, eventually turned into snow, and made for a cold, wet evening, everyone huddled in or around campers. There was plenty of cheer to go around though, as the grills were fired up despite the weather and the bullshit and fish stories flew until late.

Saturday. Wow. Waking up to snow on the ground was not high on my list of things I wanted to do. Fortunately the hot coffee and pancakes were enough to get us going and we headed out to get beat down again. I thought friday had been bad, but this was worse. Colder, windier, and not a fish to be had. Only three came in across the board, with tales of misery from just about everyone there. Despite the weather, folks rallied for the night ahead and the fires burned bright around camp. There's always next year, and judging from this year's turnout, it'll be even bigger than before.
Quit reading this now and go fishing