November 2018

Commentary Stories

The shakes, and why we love big trout

on
November 28, 2018
. . . When I hooked him, I felt a tremendous release of emotion. Satisfaction merged with adrenaline. My yearning for such a moment finally came to a close as the big wild brown trout slid onto the bank. I killed the trout with a sharp rap at the top of its skull, because that’s what I did back then. I knelt by the river to wet my creel, and when I placed the dead trout in the nylon bag, the full length of its tail stuck out from the top.

Then I began to shake. The closing of anticipation washed over me. The fruition of learning and wondering for so many years left me in awe of the moment I’d waited for. I trembled as I sat back on my heels. With two knees in the mud of a favorite trout stream, I watched the water pass before me. I breathed. I thought about nothing and everything all at once. I felt calm inside even as I stared down at my wet, shaking hands.

When a gust of wind pushed through the forest, I stirred. Finally my lengthy revery was passed, and I stood tall with my lungs full of a strong wind. Then I walked back to camp . . .

Quick Tips Tips/Tactics

Quick Tips — Put More Juice in the Cast

on
November 25, 2018
Keep it tight and crisp. Cast with speed. Be more aggressive. Build more momentum with the rod tip. The casting stroke should be snappy, energetic and sharp with abrupt and forceful stops between two points. I’ve used all of these descriptions and more to communicate the correction for the most troublesome fly fishing flaw out there — lazy casting.

By the end of December, I will log over sixty guide trips this year. On these trips I meet a lot of good anglers from all over the country who want to take the next step and turn a corner with their fly fishing game. I also meet anglers relatively new to fly fishing who are looking to build on the basics. And on the majority of my trips, at the end of the day, the number one thing I leave with my new friends is this: put more juice in the cast. Cast with more power.

Here's why . . .

Fly Casting Gear Reviews Tips/Tactics Winter Fishing

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

on
November 21, 2018
Yesterday afternoon topped off at thirty-eight degrees. That’s warm for a winter fisherman. I had five hours until dark, and I knew the temp would drop a bit at the end. There wasn’t much wind, no sun, and I had a long walk upstream to start my day. I thought about all those factors when I lifted the hatch of my SUV. Staring at the big bag of winter gear that goes everywhere with me, I knew exactly what to wear.

What follows here is my own system for staying comfortable (enough) while fishing the winter months. Soft, snowy days in the silent forest, with the solitary song of flowing water passing through are my favorite. I prefer January over July. I welcome the first crisp days of fall and the wool gloves that come with me.

Streamers Tips/Tactics

Streamer Presentations — The Speed Lead

on
November 18, 2018
“Cast it upstream!” I hollered over the clamoring currents. Standing behind and slightly to the side of Joey, I watched his next cast land the streamer inches from the opposite bank and directly across from him. It was a good spot, but it wasn't upstream.

“Look at that!” He said. My ten year old son turned around and smiled with pride. We’d been talking about fishing streamers next to structure for weeks.

I nodded with approval, trying to be supportive. Then I leaned in close to his ear, bending down so he could hear me over the competing current. We stood on a gravel bar, just to the side of a wide and rough section of whitewater — not an ideal place to race a streamer broadside across the river.

Joey launched and retrieved two more casts as I explained the speed lead . . .

Remix

You’re in too Far Now

on
November 16, 2018
That large tail waved goodbye, and a sturdy wild brown trout slid back into the flow. It was a good fish for this river, and I texted a couple pictures to Burke — just to remind him that I was fishing and he wasn’t. This is what we do to each other.

I must've been a little too gleeful and gloating — chuckled with a little too much gusto when I hit send, maybe — because on the next cast, instant karma sent my leader and flies into the sycamores. And so began the twenty minutes of foolishness that followed . . .