Eat More Brook Trout

Separated at Birth, 2?

 

A while back I was struck by a certain resemblance between pop music fad Justin Bieber and a much younger Brad Pitt. I posted about it in an entry titled, Separated at Birth. My thought was to turn the idea into a series, whereby I would discover uncanny resemblances between fly fishing personalities and their more famous Hollywood counterparts (you’ll have to give me a little leeway with the whole Brad Pitt thing—he’s not exactly a fly fishing personality, although he did star in A River Runs Through It).

Recently I was reading the latest “20 Questions” over at Eat More Brook Trout, in which Chris Hunt interviews Trout Underground founding father, Tom Chandler. Before I’d read further than:

“Tom Chandler is, if nothing else…”

It hit me, like a brick upside the head:

Tom Chandler is, if nothing else, Robin William’s much younger identical brother. And word has it they’re both fly fishermen.

One of these is Tom Chandler.

 

Out with the old, in with the new: 2011, the year in review

This will sound like an all-too-common cliché , but the older I get the faster time seems to fly by. It’s some sort of conspiracy–I’m convinced that someone has actually sped up time and/or shortened the calendar, because it seems nigh on impossible that 2011 is almost one for the archives. Whatever the case may be, the fact remains: another year has passed and another is about to begin. Because I’m a sunny optimist whose glass is always half full, I am all about looking ahead rather than dwelling in the past. That being said, let’s dwell for just a bit before we move on, shall we? Here are a few highlights (a term that is up for interpretation) from the UA in 2011.

January 

2011’s umbilical chord had barely been cut when it became clear that Charlie Sheen wouldn’t be the only one winning. Within a couple weeks of the New Year, I was declared the lucky winner in not one, but two contests. First, I won a box of Clif Bars and then a subscription to Flyfishing & Tying Journal. I shoulda quit while I was ahead, but I didn’t. On January 14th I posted what would prove to be my Magnum Opus as a blogger: Fly Fishing Needs Dirty Harry. That defining entry was the beginning of the end, and before the month was out I announced my retirement from the blog industry by declaring goodbye to the blogasphere. Because I no longer had a public fly fishing image to uphold, I promptly fled to Idaho for some steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River with a bunch of roe-fondling gear chuckers. It felt so dirty, and so right.

February

If January’s events were an indication, there should have been no February for the UA. But after some soul searching, I decided to unretire. During my three week hiatus from being an active-duty blogger, there was a lot of speculation about my whereabouts and I felt compelled to put to rest the rumors. Turns out I wasn’t quite ready for the AARP. But it was clear that nothing I ever posted again would take me close to the level of widespread acceptance that Dirty Harry afforded me. I just hoped that readers would accept me for who I was: a one-hit wonder, of sorts.

March

Befitting the month that is said to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, I came out with both barrels blazing. The website got a total makeover thanks to the amazing help of Rebecca Garlock of the Outdoor Blogger Network and Outdooress fame, and a new logo thanks to Itchy Dog Productions (which is rather self-indulgent). If I couldn’t offer consistently good content, at least I could package the Weekly Drivel® in such a way that it looked good. Perception is everything, right? Somehow during this month, a cardboard cutout of “me” sprang up and began to slowly circumnavigate the globe, or at least the country. At the end of the month, I took my son steelhead fishing for the first time. We paid a visit to the mecca of Vampires, Forks, WA. My intent was to show the lad how it’s done. He caught two fish, the last of which was landed under a double rainbow. I came home smelling of a skunk and my angling unaccomplishments had me feeling quite sheepish as March became a thing of the past.

April

I opted not to engage in April Fools Day trickery this year, for some reason. I’m not even sure why in retrospect–perhaps because it was to be expected of me?  The year prior I had crafted an April Vokey April Fools lark, but I wouldn’t stoop so low as to do that again. Perhaps I was attempting to become not so predictable. Or, I simply had nothing to offer. I’ll admit I was beat down by the weather, which continuted to be much colder and wetter than normal. A lack of Vitamin D brought and gas pains had me in a bit of a fishing funk. The only thing of note for April was that the schedule changed for the Weekly Drivel®: no longer would I be posting on Fridays, and instead moved the weekly deadline up to Wednesday. This may have been due to the fact that internet statistics show more people read blogs on Wednesday than on Friday, or it may have been due to the fact that I wanted to spend my Thursday nights watching quality TV with Mrs. UA instead of handcuffed to my keyboard, sweating a Friday deadline. Oh, April also marked the crowning of my good buddy Derek Young as the 2011 Orvis Endorsed Guide of the Year. It’s good to have friends like Derek (I’m quite certain he cannot say the same of me). I did not get out to fish this month, which normally would be a fine month to do so at least a couple of times. April showers proved to be incessant rains.

May

In a month that normally brings good fishing and Spring flowers, May was a lousy weather month across most of the West this past year. Thanks to La Niña (the Bitch), which had a stronghold on the climate for several months, Spring sucked eggs. Bug hatches and everything else were a month behind schedule, at least. I managed to get out and fish twice: once with Derek and Jason Small (a semi-pro photographer who intended to come along to shoot photos and ended up stealing all the fishing glory); the second time as part of the annual Children’s Hospital auction float trip. Actually, I wasn’t even fishing but rather was tasked with rowing a raft for the Reverend and The Father. But no matter how frustrouting May was, it was also the month that marks the annual pilgrimage to Yellowstone. I always look forward to that trip, no matter how much or how little it changes year to year, which it does.

June

Fed up with the crappy Western Washington Spring weather, I proposed a radical solution that never gained much traction: removing the Cascade Mountains. Unlike the removal of dams, breeching the mountains may have been an idea that was ahead of its time. I posted of our Yellowstone escapades, but as part of my ongoing campaign to be not so predictable, I did so out of sequence. I thought this cutting edge approach to journalism might increase my readership from 8 to 12. The jury is still out on whether or not that worked, but by month’s end the UA was up to 10 readers. And those 10 readers were treated to a review, sort of, of John Gierach’s newest book, No Shortage of Good Days.

July

Ah, summer finally arrives to the Pacific Northwest. At least in theory. The calendar may have indicated that it was the first month of summer, but there were obstacles that prevented it from fishing like a typical July. Eventually La Niña would loosen her grip, but July was still  month of developmentally-stunted weather. That didn’t seem to bother my son too much, as he became a professional bass angler. Olive the Woolly Bugger began her quest for Hollywood in earnest with a campaign to garner support from the internet. She could still use your help (hint-hint).

August

August was a big month for the UA as he ventured via Montana to Victor Idaho to participate in the Casting 4 A Cure event. I felt very fortunate to be able to participate, and hope to do so again. What I do not hope to do again is hit another deer while driving in Montana. The first leg of the journey took us to the Bitterroot River for a day of fishing with Jay Dixon. Having never before fished “the Root”, it was a real treat.  And I outfished Marck, which was also a first, but I would certainly never boast about it. Recommend you give Jay a shout if you plan to be over that way.

September

The UA celebrated it’s second birthday this month and predicted that readers should expect some irrational behavior fitting the terrible twos. If you were Owl Jones, you didn’t have to wait long for that unsavory behavior to come your way as I announced a Boycott of his website. Fortunately Mr. Jones caved into the pressure and the boycott was soon lifted and Owl resumed his quest for world domination. An epic Crane Fly hatch this month spawned a concept that I thought would be more popular than it turned out to be. Based on the luke warm reception, apparently the world wasn’t ready to combine their love of yard maintenance and fly fishing: Lawn Trout.

October

With a run of Pink Salmon numbering in the gazillions, I sought to harvest at least a few of these fish and made an attempt at doing so. The score after two attempts?  Pink Salmon: One Gazillion; UA: Zero. The erratic toddler-like behavior predicted a month earlier manifested itself once again as I declared war on Canada. A Cease-Fire was announced within a week. Having crashed and burned in my attempt to humor the world with my antics in September, I announced my idea for another radical idea that combined fishing and another popular American past time: BASSCAR. This proved marginally more popular, but I realized I would have to go back to the drawing board if I hoped to conceive of the next big thing…something that would attract Google’s attention. As it turns out, people seeking a fly fishing blog apparently want something actually having to do with fly fishing, as my review of the Sage One got more traffic than BASSPRO and Lawn Trout combined. Go figure.

November

The eleventh month of the year is not typically a very productive fishing month for me, and this November was no exception. However, my fishing unaccomplishments are rivaled only by my elk hunting unaccomplishments. Another thing you can do when you aren’t fishing and consequently have nothing to write about with regard to fishing, is conduct interrogations interviews with people who do fish. To that end I did my first interview with a fly fishing celebrity this month, as Olive the Woolly Bugger sat down for a chat. Interviews seem to be a popular fad in the fly fishing blogasphere, as I was grilled over at Eat More Brook Trout. Continuing with the whole interview theme, I gave Chris Hunt a dose of his own medicine in the form of 20 Questions. I began to realize that I really need to do more fishing.

December

I continued to acknowledge that I needed to do more fishing, but December isn’t the month to acknowledge this because fishing tends to be in limbo this month. I had several excuses for not fishing, however. Some of them were even valid reasons. I sat inside, attempting to fend off a case of the Shacknasties, and putting my creative brain to work. The jury is still out on whether my creativity will be rewarded, but pouring energy into a series of greeting cards is better than pouring alcohol into my system or writing about pink Fish Tacos.

As we say good riddance to 2011 and look ahead to 2012, I wish my 10 loyal followers a very Happy New Year and thank you for your continued support. With 8 more months of potential antics befitting a two year-old yet to come, I make no promises that you will read anything here worthy of your time. I do however, offer apologies in advance. I just hope we’re all still here this time next year.

20 Questions: Chris Hunt, Eat More Brook Trout

Chris Hunt prepares to eat a Brookie

Paying homage to the man who originated the “20 Questions”series, we are gathered here today to boost the Google Analytics of the Unaccomplished Angler learn a bit more about Chris Hunt: the man, the myth, and the proprietor of the Eat More Brook Trout blog. In his spare time Chris also just happens to be the National Communications Director for Trout Unlimited. The biggest difference between what Chris does with his “20 Questions” series on his site and what you’ll see here today, is that Chris only publishes 20 of the questions he sends out to those he deems worthy can bribe to participate in his interview series. Conversely, I’m dishing all 30 questions. This may result in me falling out of favor with Chris, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take to bring you the Full Meal Deal. Enjoy.

Chris Hunt is a former newspaper journalist who escaped the trade just before it imploded. He went to work saving the world, one trout at a time, for a well-known conservation organization (whose letters are TU–ed.). He does some freelance writing on the side, has penned a couple of books and lives in Idaho Falls with his wife, two kids and two unruly mutts.

Chris’ passion is fly fishing and he’s very evangelical about the need to protect wild country in order to protect sporting opportunity. He’s had the good fortune to fish all over North America from Alaska and Canada, to the tip of Baja and nearly everywhere in between. The mountains and the trout they shelter are his first love, but if a year passes without being able to dip his toes in the ocean, withdrawals set in.

His claims to fly fishing fame? He caught a northern pike on a Tenkara rod; he caught a migrating lake trout on a Tenkara rod. And he caught a muskie on his third cast (and has a witness!). Over the years, his writing has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers and websites, including the New York Times and Field & Stream. He blogs somewhat regularly at eatmorebrooktrout.com.

Without further ado, let’s throw Chris Hunt to the lions:

 1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
My head in the Rockies, my feet in the salt and a feeding fish within casting range.

2. What is your greatest fear?
Oddly enough, drowning. I became an excellent swimmer to ward this one off.

Mark Twain was a Tenkara man.

3. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Mark Twain. Honest. Concise. And just a little bit full of himself.

4. Which living person do you most admire?
Cecil Andrus. Idaho’s favorite son, and a guy who’ll tell you like it is, even if you don’t want to hear it.

5. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I’m a closet narcissist, if such a thing exists.

6. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Hypocrisy, and the willingness to use it for political gain.

7. What is your favorite journey?
This is a tough one for me, because, at the time, it was easily our most difficult journey. We once drove from Eureka, Calif., to Colorado and back to see family for the Holidays. Our Land Cruiser died. Our 3-month-old daughter did nothing but scream during a treacherous blizzard in northeast Utah. I became the owner of a mini-van. We got into a real trailer-park bust-up at a Motel 6 in Wendover, Nev., (dogs included). And I think I grew up. Finally. I look back on that journey all those years ago now and think, “If we can do that, we can do anything.”

Lake Trout caught without a reel.

8. On what occasion do you lie?
I did not fart.  And I did not play Dungeons and Dragons when I was a kid.

9. Which living person do you most despise?
If I told you, the Wiccan curse I paid good money to have put on that rat bastard won’t work.

10. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
There are two. The first is, “What up, yo?” My son came home from school one day and laid this one on us. I’ve used it ever since. The other is “What are you wearing?” I usually save that one for answering the phone.

11. What is your greatest regret?
Quitting football after the ninth grade. I think I’d have made a hell of tight end in the NFL … but, on the flip side, I can walk, have both my original knees and I’ve learned to double haul. Life’s good… regrets probably come with baggage.

12. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
The cliché thing here is to say my family. Clichés are clichés for a reason. My family. The country-fried steak and eggs Trucker’s Breakfast at the Ranch Hand in Montpelier, Idaho, is a close second, though.

13. Which talent would you most like to have?
It’s funny… I’ve been asking these questions to other folks now for months, and I’ve never really thought about this one. I’d love to be able to fly, but I’d feel compelled to wear a cape and save kittens from trees. And I’m a dog person. This will surprise some folks, but I’d love to be able to carry a tune. I just can’t, and I think it’s very limiting.

14. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I’ve been lucky professionally. As a journalist, I won lots of awards for my work, and I always took great pride in that. But I think what I’m most proud of was having the late, great Charlie Meyers, the best outdoor writer ever to grace the pages of a newspaper, review my book and praise it. Charlie was a great man of many talents and he lived a life of adventure. For him to take the time to read my book and then tell others how much he liked it meant the world to me.

15. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
Again… I’ve never given this much thought. When I was a kid, I was enamored by dolphins. In my 20s, I wanted to be Bourbon Street strip club owner (don’t judge… I like boobies*). Now, at 42, I think I’d like to be a vagabond fly fisher wandering the beaches and flats of the Yucatan.*No judgement here, just agreement–ed.

16. What is your most treasured possession?
My grandfather’s bamboo fly rod. My uncle gave it to me a year or so after my grandfather died. One of these days, I’ll have it restored. For now, though, it’s comforting to look at the old aluminum tube in the corner of the fly tying room and remember the feeling of the old man standing over my shoulder while I cast to rising brook trout.

17. Where would you like to live?
Craig, Alaska, from July through September. Then … maybe South Padre until, say, January. Then New Orleans through May. I’d spend June in Stony Rapids, Saskatchewan. But here, just a stone’s throw from the Yellowstone Caldera, isn’t too shabby.

18. Who are your favorite writers?
Robert Jordan, Mark Twain, Aldo Leopold. Jim Babb (if you’ve never read River Music, you’re missing the best fly fishing ever written), Tom McGuane. I used to put Geirach on the list, and probably still should for old time’s sake. I just think … I’ve outgrown the introspective fly fishing essay (and, in case you haven’t, get your copy of the ultimate collection of introspective fly fishing essays here!).

19. Who are your heroes?
My grandfather, Bill Muller, who slogged through hell during World War II in the Pacific. Theodore Roosevelt, for recognizing the need to keep our country’s natural resources intact. And Howard Zahniser, the author of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Each of these men saved the world, as I know it.

20. How would you like to die?
Jeez, you’re damn nosey, aren’t you Kirk? I mean, these questions are really personal. Let’s see… again, very little thought to this one. I’d love to die on the river, but then I would probably drown, and I don’t want to drown. I do hope the good Lord takes me quickly and after a great day of fishing. And maybe he’ll come collect me from an Irish pub after one last taste of Jameson.

Hey, so the man likes Lady Ga Ga. Don't judge.

21. What’s on your iPod?
Sadly, I don’t really have one. I’m a satellite radio guy. But… if I did load an iPod full of tunes, it would include a lot of Jimmy Buffett, a little Lyle Lovett, country when country was a lot more raw (I mean, “Holes in the Floor of Heaven?” “Christmas Shoes?” Where have all the real country singers gone? This blatant pandering to the blubbering masses makes me want to puke). I guess I’d have some Toby Keith on there—or at least his song, “I’ll Never Smoke Weed with Willy Again.” I’m diggin’ Mumford and Sons. The Clumsy Lovers make the cut for sure. And Lady GaGa. Seriously.

22. What’s the title of your autobiography?
Oh, that’s easy. “20 Questions.”

23. If you were a pet dog, what would your name be?
Bronco.

A math under-achiever.

24. If there’s a Heaven, and you’re lucky enough to make the cut, what would you like to hear God say to you upon arrival?
“Look at you. You’re proof that you can live a long and happy life with just a C-minus in college algebra.”

25. What was the most significant moment in your life?
There are two. The first was when my daughter was yanked from the guts of my wife during an emergency C-section. Nothing prepares you for the love you feel for this tiny person you’ve only just met. The second was when my son emerged in roughly the same fashion. He pissed on the doctor and the nurses and he’s been making people laugh ever since.

26. What’s your favorite film?
Silverado. Best. Movie. Ever.

27. Where would you want your loved ones to spread your ashes?
I’m sending those greedy little shits on a wild goose chase. They can leave a bit on the banks of the Crystal River above the town of Marble, Colo.; they can sprinkle a bit in the South Fork and the Henry’s Fork. A handful will have to go along the banks of a little creek on Prince of Wales Island, whose name I will reveal in my will, and not a second sooner. Some will go to the grayling in the Grease River before it enters Lake Athabasca. A little bit will have to go to the upper Gibbon River. And the last of it can go in the garden under the cilantro and the garlic chives.

Chicks dig the 1980 Corolla.

28. What’s your favorite car of all the cars you’ve owned?
We had a 1985 Toyota Land Cruiser that got to know the central Colorado mining roads pretty well. And I’ve loved my Dodge Dakotas over the last 10 years or so. But I’ll have to go with a 1980 Toyota Corolla. Craven yellow. Mabye two oil changes in five years. It bore a dent from my then-girlfriend’s step-father who backed into it with his truck one morning, not realizing that I was, ahem, sleeping over. It took me all over the country and I loved it to death.

29. What word do you have to look up in order to know you spelled it correctly?
Knowlege. Or is it knowledge? Oye.

30. Who’s your favorite cartoon character?
Jessica Rabbit. Hubba hubba.

Jessica Rabbit, eh? Whatever you say, Chris...