Monday, October 21, 2013

Top 10 F.A.Q. - Part 2

When people discover that you flyfish, you get a certain set of questions pretty consistently.  Next up in my Top 10 F.A.Q. series:

Question #3: Why don't you keep the fish?

Conservation is embedded in the fly fishing culture, but for me personally there are several reasons I catch and release.  I can summarize them into two words: consuming and resuming

-Anything big enough to take home to consume has been in the river for enough time to absorb some of the chemicals that are consistent with an urban watershed, namely mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.
-I don't need to consume trout and have other environmentally conscious alternatives available to me.
-Trout is not my favorite fish to consume anyway...particularly not since most fish in the Truckee are planters from a farm, fed something akin to dog food.

-As the great late Mitch Hedburg used to say, "they catch the fish, but they let it go.  They don't want to eat the fish, but they do want to make it late for something."  The fish you catch are a part of a bigger ecosystem helping feed bigger predators and controlling prey populations. I think it best to let that fish resume his role in the system and take the pic for your enjoyment instead of his carcass.
-Catching and releasing wild trout (that typically have stronger genetics and more exaggerated colors/spots) is even more essential so that their DNA can resume being passed on.
-If you practice catch and release, you don't have to pay attention to local keep limits.  If the fishing is hot, you can resume fishing as late as you'd like.  I would add that barb-less hooks are an important part of this approach.  It's not a win to damage the anatomy of a crap-ton of fish and call it conservation.
-Anything big enough to take home is also likely a spawning adult.  Allowing mature adults to resume reproducing is a major factor in population health, explained in part here:

I should note that I don't look down on those that keep their legal limits.  Not visibly anyway.  I do think a pertinent question for self-reflection is, "if everyone on the water did what I did, what would happen over the long haul?"

Question #4: Why don't you smile in your pictures? 

Because when I smile I feel like I look like this guy below.  If I was in Canada wrangling a massive bull trout, I might justify making the same face.  What a fish.

Also, I should note that the fight portion of the catch in "catch-snap-release" elicits more emotion than the snap and release.  Till next time. Cheers.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Some days your best attempts at layering don't keep the cold out.  The list of things that can get me to willingly stand in a river when the air temps are in the 40s is pretty short.  The rush of your indicator shooting upstream through the foam line is on that short list.  Got out with Matt Koles (pictured below) on the Truckee and what started slow for both of us turned into a decent day. 

One of the several reasons I love fly fishing is that there are an endless number of firsts.  After a slow morning, I had something heavy take a midge in heavy water moving about the same pace you walk when you're checking the mailbox.  The take was the only pretty thing that happened with this fish.

After the take, my ghetto-fabulous, only useful for dry-land instruction, Fisher Price, piece of crap reel disassembled itself mid-fight and fell into several feet of water under the boulder I was standing on.  By some miracle, the fish paused from sprinting, giving me enough time to collapse into the water, clumsily yank the reel out of the submerged rocks, stand up, reassemble the reel, and continue the fight.  Another first.  Ugly.  Real ugly.

Some days you put the right flies in the right slots at the right time of day and the river doesn't tip its hat in your direction.  Other days, you're a hot mess discovering new ways to screw things up and you still get something you don't deserve.  Grace.  There are way more important things in life that fishing, but I am always surprised how much you can learn about those other things with a flyrod in your hands.

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? Luke 11:10-12

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It Takes Two

Last week I got a text from a respected angler and good friend, Brian Johnson.  He told me he was downtown eating and saw something worth "investigating" in the river.

We met downtown and he showed me what grabbed his attention earlier.  Sure enough.  What we didn't see was that there were 3 or 4 nice sized bows stacked up behind the beast.  On my second drift, a 20"er shot out from cover, pounced my nymph rig, and went to the net.  The pic below was shot from Brian's iPhone, which I specify because he is a gifted photgrapher, and visually lethal when the right gear is in his hands.

Notice Brian with baby Eisley in tow, behind me spotting.  Any man that can spot a trophy trout, eat a meal and never put his kid down is a model to us all.  While I wanted the big guy up front, I was happy to catch and release this one too.  Just before I put this fish back in the water, a man started screaming downstream:

"I'll give you $5 for that fish!!! Don't put him back!!!"

I looked up at Brian and shrugged.  "No chance" I mouthed.  Brian hollered back, "let him grow into a $10 fish!".  That was a better answer than what I had in mind.  As I let go and the bow swam off, the man on the bridge continued (I caught this on video):

"Damn it!  I was gonna pay you for it!"

"No thanks." I replied.  Here's to more $10 fish.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Top 10 F.A.Q. - Part 1

I routinely get asked the same questions about fly-fishing.  The questions are perfectly understandable given that the vast majority of people I encounter in life are not of the fishing variety...they do not share my desire to get waist deep and provoke our local watery predators.  I'm going to do a few posts on these are the first two:

Question #1:  Do you catch the same fish over and over again?

Answer:  No.  The average freestone stream in the west has 5,000 fish per mile.  The Truckee is around 1,000 per mile.  Even with smaller population numbers, fish move a lot and it's generally bad etiquette to pound the same area repeatedly.  I have on rare occasion hooked and lost a large fish to return a week later and renegotiate.

Question #2:  Who takes pictures of you holding fish when you are by yourself?

Answer:  There are a variety of products and options available to pull off a proper "selfie".  My preferred method, "nature's tripod", is pictured below.

A few shots from the last few weeks.  Haven't been out much, but did find a few browns including one that was feeding in a bucket only twice as long as he was (23" and change).  Water temps have dropped big time.  Bigger flies are getting less attention and smaller flies are taking the stage.  Crays, baetis, and midges are getting attention...particularly good cray patterns in fast water, and midges under foam lines.

Part 2 coming soon...