Month: August 2011

Bittersweet Montana


Montana Night Driving

Marck and I departed his home in North Bend, WA at just after 3pm and headed east on I-90 toward our destination of Hamilton, MT. Along the way we stopped in Kellogg, ID for a massive hamburger and fries, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Within 15 minutes it became apparent that perhaps a green salad may have been a better choice and thus we did drive into the night, windows down. Montana welcomed us with 40 miles of road construction which slowed our progress a bit. That progress would be further delayed about 20 miles west of Missoula at 10:30 PM. Anyone who has driven through Montana knows that there are game animals aplenty on either side of the road, and often in between either side of the road.  It’s here that they show themselves mainly at night.

Seconds before impact the deer wore a certain expression, and so did I. Fortunately we weren’t going the posted speed limit and it wasn’t a large deer. The damage to the front passenger corner of the Fish Taco, which we examined after pulling over to the safety of the center meridian, wasn’t horrendous: we lost a turn signal and rearranged the bumper and some sheet metal, but the headlights were in tact and the tire was still round. Fortunately we were able to use a cargo strap to secure a piece of flapping plastic and Marck was able to put his 250 lbs to good use and bend the bumper just enough that we could continue our journey.  The unmistakable smell of deer feces hung in the warm air of the evening as we limped down the road toward Missoula, a fair amount of tying material stuck to the front end of the truck. If only we’d hit a decorative chicken instead–the damage would have been less, and grizzly hackle is worth more than deer hair.

Any significant bump in the road resulted in cringe-worthy scraping of metal on tire, and it just so happened that there was about 20 miles of major massive road construction between Stevensville and Hamilton, the results of which were countless significant bumps in the road. Amazingly we arrived without having to change a flat tire at 12:30 A.M. The next morning we stopped by Wimp’s Body Works where a helpful gentleman with a slide hammer was able to increase the clearance between the tire and a certain bolt that threatened to make our trip less enjoyable.

Bitterroot River Fly Fishing

After seeing to it that that the Fish Taco could once again drive in more than a straight line without scraping metal on rubber, we headed down the road to the River Otter Fly Shop in Florence where we met our guide, Jay Dixon. Jay lives off the grid (literally) high in the hills above the Bitterroot Valley in a solar-powered home that he shares with his wife and two young boys. Owner of Dixon Adventures, Jay is passionate about getting kids out on the water and that’s how we met initially: I had contacted Jay about adding his outfitter business to the Kid Friendly Guides page on Take Kids Fly Fishing. From there we struck up a conversation and I knew right away that I needed to fish with Jay, so Marck and I decided to book a Bitterroot float on our way to Idaho to participate in the Casting 4 A Cure event in Victor on August 26th and 27th. And so it was that we came to be fishing the Bitterroot on August 24th.

We put in near Florence and proceeded downstream toward our take out near Lolo. The day was headed well above 90 degrees and after record high flows earlier in the season, the Bitterroot was running about 700 cfs (about normal for this time of year). Other western Montana Rivers were still running higher than normal, but the Bitterroot Valley is heavily populated (relatively speaking), and irrigation demands are high for the alfalfa and hay that grow in the surrounding fields. There was concern, on Jay’s part, that the fishing would be slow as the water temperature pushed just past 70 degrees. The lower river doesn’t have much gradient and with long stretches of flat water it’s easy to see how the water temps can get too warm for fishing to be good for either the fish or the fishermen. Our bodies retained every ounce of fluid that we pumped into them all day long. Well, nearly every ounce.

When Lewis and Clark passed through the Bitterroot Valley in 1805 they wrote of a certain plant that would eventually become the state flower of Montana. The roots of this plant, when consumed without cooking, left a bitter taste in their mouths and thus the plant was named accordingly. Marck may have had a similar taste in his mouth after the Unaccomplished Angler struck first and pulled to a 3-0 lead over the superior fisherman.

Jay Dixon with an Unaccomplished Bitterroot rainbow

Unaccomplished Bitterroot 19" Cutt-Bow

Unaccomplished Bitterroot Cutt

If the taste in Marck’s mouth was bitter, at least it was not the taste of skunk–I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, particularly someone with whom I would be spending the next several days. He pulled out of his funk with a nice cutthroat, and ended up with 4 good fish on the day: 3 cutts and a rainbow. I finished out the day with a cutt-bow, a brown, a cutthroat, and 3 rainbows. That’s 6 fish for the Unaccomplished Angler and 4 fish for Marck, although it was not a competition and nobody was counting. Despite concerns over the water temps, the fish were all very healthy, fought hard and were in great shape when released.

Marck's first fish of the day: a beautiful Bitterroot Cutt

Marck's nice Bitterroot rainbow

Actually, Jay may have been counting (he’s one of those freaks who is actually good a math) and he was glad to at least put 10 fish in the catch column. After all, it’s beneficial for a guide to be able to say that his clients had double digits on trout in small water during hot weather. He’s a great guide–perhaps the best I’ve fished with as far as his overall intellect, knowledge of casting and fish fighting (ask him about “corking”), and his Little Johnny jokes.  I learned a lot and had an absolutely awesome time, and I think Marck did too, despite the ass kicking he received. According to the measuring tape sticker affixed to Jay’s boat, neither of us were Yanni or even John Denver, but we’ve got a ways to go before we reach Steve McQueen Status.

How Badass Are You?

Luck continued to be on my side after we got off the river, too, because the Sheriff who pulled us over on our way back to Hamilton let me off with a warning. It may have been due to the fact that I have a clean driving record and was very polite, or perhaps because I told him I was simply in a hurry to get back to the hotel before dark because I don’t like driving at night in Montana.

Montana Blue (and red) Light Special

As we prepared to depart Montana for Idaho the next morning, we took with us both good and bad memories. The deer-in-the-headlights encounter, while it could have been avoided had we been going 20 mph, was certainly unfortunate and is going to cost me at least my $500 deductible (which is more than the cost of the great trip we had with Jay). But it could have been much worse (it could have been an elk or moose). And I suppose the fishing could have been better, but any day that I can catch more fish than Marck is a pretty remarkable day.

An Unaccomplished Brown, for the win!

Rugged Eddie Bauer Man

As I pack the last of the things for my trip to Montana and Idaho, hoping that I remember the critical items before getting there, I wanted to leave my 8 loyal followers with one last, worthless post.  If for some reason I don’t return, I want to be remembered for having left you all with a blog entry that is so unworthy of your time that it’s not even deserving of a “Weekly Drivel®” designation (and thus is appropriately filed away under the category of “Pointless Wastes of Your Time”). I should probably have deleted this before ever publishing it, but hey–a guy needs traffic for his Google Analytics, right? That, and I like to keep the SPAMMERS employed.

Eddie Bauer, the rugged man

Eddie Bauer wasn’t always just a clothing retailer. Seriously. My first fly rod was made by Eddie Bauer, back in the days when you could actually buy outdoor recreation gear at the one Eddie Bauer store in Seattle. Back in the mid 70’s I had a backpacking tent made by Eddie Bauer, and down jackets and sleeping bags filled with Premium Eddie Bauer Goose Down were the shit–the seriously good stuff (which I never had because I was allergic to down). You see, Eddie Bauer (the man) was an avid outdoorsman, and the company reflected that passion. I won’t go into detail about him here because I don’t know much about him other than what is provided on several websites. Suffice it to say Eddie Bauer was serious about his love of the outdoors: he was an avid hunter and fisherman and it would appear that he was a fly fisherman as well because he sold trout flies and made fly rods. He also sold tennis racquets and badminton shuttlecocks. Hey, he wasn’t perfect – nobody is. At least he didn’t sell golf equipment. While an article int he latest Angling Trade talks about the similarities between golf and fly fishing that provide potential new ventures for the fly fishing industry, I prefer not to recommend hybridization. But I digress.

In the many decades that have passed since Eddie Bauer (the man) sold his company, Eddie Bauer (the company) has wandered farther from its roots and has become synonymous with clothing. While a far cry from the outdoor industry that gave rise to the success of the brand, the company is holding onto the proud, rugged history of Eddie Bauer as evidenced by its summer catalog Summer Resource Book. Gracing the pages inside you’ll find Rugged Eddie Bauer Man. And he is just that: rugged.

Here he can be seen climbing the mast of a sailing vessel, holding on with one hand while he looks down with contempt toward his undisciplined crew. Clearly he is a man of few words, and even less humor.

And why shouldn’t he be? Afterall, there is nothing funny about carrying a large cargo net and a gasoline can, and getting your new shirt covered with grease and grime. It’s serious work. It calls for a serious man. A rugged man.

Here, Rugged Eddie Bauer Man can be seen looking at a thick rope. He appears lost in thought, as if deeply troubled. If he were to speak, one could imagine the few words, “Who the hell tied this knot?”

But lest one should think that Rugged Eddie Bauer Man is all work and no play, we see him here–embarking on a recreational endeavor. His face still wears the stern expresson of a humorless man, but he does seem a bit more relaxed.

But no matter what he’s doing, Rugged Eddie Bauer Man does it with serious conviction. Maybe serious is the only way he can be. And we wouldn’t want it any other way, would we?

We can only assume that like Eddie Bauer, Rugged Eddie Bauer Man is also a fly fisherman. And a seriously good golfer, too.

The rugged Eddie Bauer Man


You have my apologies for this blog entry.

Destination Victor, Idaho


I’m about to embark on a trip, the likes of which I’ve never taken before.  It’s been a long time in the making, and as the departure date draws near I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t giddy as git-out. Fishing is part of the trip, a big part of it to be sure. But there’s much more to the trip than fishing.

In May of 2010 I was contacted by a gentleman by the name of Bill Farnum, who is the Executive Director of Casting 4 A Cure. He buttered me up by telling me he enjoyed reading my blog, and then invited me to join his organization for one or both of their two annual fundraisers. I questioned his taste in blogs and told him that unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to make it to either event last year. But I gave Bill my word that I would be at one of them next year (this year).

Casting 4 a Cure is an organization that was started as a means to raise awareness and funding for the International Rett Syndrome Foundation. Rett Syndrome is a neurological disorder affecting almost exclusively young girls. It’s a rare, life-shortening affliction that robs them of their verbal and gross motor skills. Bill’s daughter, Ella, was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome in 2007. After the diagnosis, it became Bill and his wife Beth’s mission to help find a cure. By combining Bill’s passions for fly fishing and fund raising, Casting 4 A Cure was founded with the help of Bill’s longtime fishing buddy, Jim Copeland.  In the first four years, Casting 4 A Cure has raised over $200,000 for Rett Syndrome research and family support. Funds raised this year will got to 2 different projects: 1) a new clinical trial for a drug that could really help with some of the more excruciating symptoms and 2) funding for a new Rett Syndrome clinic in Denver at Denver Children’s Hospital.  This will allow Rocky Mountain families in Colorado, Idaho, Utah etc to access Rett Syndrome specialists for the care and advice they desperately need but is hard to find locally. Casting 4 A Cure holds benefit events each year in Steamboat, CO and Victor, Idaho. The goal is to raise $1M by 2015 and have a cure in hand by 2020.  As Bill says, “Lofty goals, but we have the people with the passion to make it happen.”

It’s Victor where I’m headed. The South Fork of the Snake River.  Never been there, never done that. I am, to state things mildly, out of my mind with excitement.  Yes, the fishing should be good. In fact, there’s a very strong chance that it should be out-of-this-world good because after a summer of raging flows, the river is just dropping into shape. There should be clear water, and big fish including cutthroat, rainbows and browns. Hungry fish. Big, hungry fish. But whether the fishing is good or not, I’m excited to meet Bill and Beth, and Ella. And the many other great folks who are converging on the town of Victor for this great event.

I spent the last year finding creative ways to raise money through auctions, raffles, pledges from friends and family, and from the modest sales of my Olive the Woolly Bugger books, to cover the majority of cost of the entry fee for Team Olive.  My team mate and I came up a little short so we scraped together the rest. Had I been smart I’d have sold grizzly hackle to teenage girls and easily been able to sponsor two teams.

There are 24 teams coming to the event, and each team will fish with a guide from World Cast Anglers for two days. I recognize some of the names of the other anglers, and some of them I’ve never heard of. People come from all over the country for this event, and so one thing I am sure of is that they’re a group of accomplished anglers. For obvious reasons I’m going to be out of my league. This is a tournament of sorts and that means competition (albeit of a friendly variety). And that’s exactly why I’ve chosen the team mate I have…someone who is as fishy as they come…a man who can stand trout to trout with the best of them. That’s why the backbone of Team Olive is Marck.

We’re leaving a day early so we can fish the Bitterroot in Montana along the way.  The Bitterroot is a river I have long wanted to fish but the opportunity has never presented itself until now. Having passed by Missoula countless times on I-90 with my nose pressed against the car window, staring south into the Bitterroot Valley like a forlorn pup, it’s about time I did something about it. So, this time we’re getting off the interstate and spending a day with guide Jay Dixon, who runs Dixon Adventures. It’ll be a great way to tune up those hook set reflexes and break up the long drive to Victor.

This trip is going to include some great fishing on some beautiful rivers, but the ultimate point isn’t just to catch fish–there’s much more to it than just that. There always is. But this time is special. I encourage you to take a look at the Casting 4 A Cure website–maybe you can be there next year.

Henry David Thoreau said, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” Bill Farnum knows what he’s after, and I feel privileged to join his group for this event, because each cast gets will get us closer to a cure.

Works in progress?

A few weeks ago I posted an entry in which the new Ross Reels logo was discussed. I’m not here to dredge that up again, I promise.

But it’s the time of year when new products are being launched and images rebranded. When I saw the logo for the brand new Sage the One rod I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to the new Ross logo.  You don’t have to be a logo designer, though I happen to be one, to note the similarities. See for yourself:




I like Sage, and I like Ross. I have several Sage rods, and several Ross reels. I’m not going to say whether I like or dislike either logo, but I just wanted to point out that they’re each missing something. I’m sure the same designer didn’t do both logos, and I am quite sure the folks at Sage had no idea what the folks at Ross were planning and vice versa, which makes the similarities all the more uncanny.

Even though the Unaccomplished Angler was given a new logo this past year, I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t rethink the design. Maybe the Unaccomplished Angler is missing something, or maybe it’s not and should be?

App Review: Fishing Flies Encyclopedia

One of the many benefits of being a hot shot fly fishing blog keeper is the number of requests to review gear. Unfortunately I’ve never been approached with such numbers of requests, although I do occasionally get an email from someone asking me to review smaller ticket items, such as say, sunscreen. Well, I think I’m making progress in that regard because I recently had an opportunity to review an iPhone app: Fishing Flies Encyclopedia.

The good news is that 6 months ago I crawled out from under my rock, ditched my 6 year old flip phone and got all fancy, which is to say that I do in fact own an iPhone 4 (3G service). However, I am not a power user–I actually put my phone down several times a day and even forget where it is from time to time. Therefore I am not a big app guy (I have a few, but none that I’ve paid for). At $6.99, Fishing Flies Encyclopedia probably isn’t something I’d have gone out on my own and paid for, but I was given a free copy to try out with the understanding that I would post a review.  So here goes.

First off, a description of the app says, “Collins Fishing Flies enables the fly-fisher and fly-tyer to select new flies for their local waters, or to select flies when heading off, to far-off rivers, lakes and seas.” I’m not likely to consult this app as a guide for selecting flies I want to use on a specific river, but it is a source of interesting information. Other users may find different ways to benefit from this app.

The first thing I did once I installed the app was jump right to the listing for Woolly Bugger.  I’m a stickler for the proper spelling, which includes two “l”s (woolly). If it’s spelled any other way, I tend to lose interest immediately. Fortunately, my interest continued (although I was a bit surprised not to see olive featured as a main color variety).

The title of the app suggests that it is exactly what it is: an encyclopedia of fishing flies. It’s just like what one would expect to find in a set of Encyclopedia Brittanica, if you remember what those were.  However, this encyclopedia takes up considerably less room than a full volume of books, and is actually richer in content.  According to the description on the website, “there are over 1300 photographed flies, together with tying and fishing notes and an extensive bibliography of fishing flies.” The  main menu for the app consists of: Fly Gallery; Fly Encyclopedia; Quiz; The Art of Fly Dressing; Index.

The Fly Gallery contains a list of 41 categories covering every grouping of flies I could imagine (actually more than I could imagine).

The Fly Encyclopedia contains an Introduction to fishing flies, Fly Tying Materials, Parts of a Fly, The Earliest Flies, and 33 categories of flies,

The Quiz is just that. I failed, miserably.

The Art of Fly Dressing is a section that talks about those who tie, why they tie and what they tie.

The Index is a comprehensive, alphabetical listing of of all content, with the ability to search by All, Author, Books, Family and Fly.

The amount of content is impressive. The design and navigation is pleasing and sensible. The work that went into creating this app makes it easy to understand why it’s not free, or 99 cents. I’m not sure if at $6.99 they’ll sell as many copies as they could. It might be better to drop the price and go for volume sales. But for the fly fishing junky who has everything, $6.99 isn’t much to spend on something that you may not need but should probably have just to round out your obsession. After all, nothing about fly fishing is rational. Based on how poorly I did on the Quiz, I should probably spend some time with this app. 2 out of 10 correct–quite an unaccomplishment I’d say.

As for performance of the app, I had no problems. Seems stable. One thing I would like to see added to the app would be the inclusion of the Olive the Woolly Bugger series of books in the Books section of the Index. The Olive books may not be specific to fly tying, but they certainly are a first introduction to fly fishing, and they do contain photographs of actual flies. Maybe the developer will issue a kid version of the app in the future.

Fishing Flies Encyclopedia is available for purchase on iTunes.


Bird’s nests and furled leaders

I’ve bitched plenty about our Pacific Northwest summer weather (or lack thereof) this summer season. No need to beat a dead horse, although one more kick in the ribs won’t hurt. With that said, I’m putting on my steel-toed boots. Let’s begin.

August 11, 2011. It was cloudy and cool with a daytime high headed towards a sweltering 70 degrees in Western WA. Not raining or even drizzly–just not summer weather, thanks to the phenomenon known as the Western Washington Ream Job.  To illustrate, I’ve included an action photo sequence. Below, from left to right: I-90 eastbound, 15 miles west of Snoqualmie Pass; I-90 eastbound, 5 miles west of Snoqualmie Pass; I-90 eastbound, 1 mile west of Snoqualmie Pass; I-90 eastbound, 1 mile east of Snoqualmie Pass.

Western Washington Summer Ream Job action sequence

The bottom line is that once we got east of the Cascade crest, it was blue skies and summer weather. ‘We’ consisted of Jimmy and myself. We hadn’t fished together since the annual trip to Yellowstone, and usually we get out at least a couple of times during July. That didn’t happen this Julyuary but finally the time was right. Per usual when fishing the lower canyon, we stopped in at Red’s Fly Shop to arrange for a shuttle and pick up a couple flies (which I didn’t really need, but always buy just to help them pay the bills). Word from behind the counter was that dry fly fishing had been tough recently so we would fish with a hopper and a dropper (Lightning Bug, to be exact).

From our launch site at Big Horn, we had 15.5 river miles to cover with a current running about 4mph. Calculations suggested that if we milked it and delayed whenever possible, back-rowing to slow our pace by one-half, we should be at the Roza take out around 9 pm. This would give us time on the water for the evening caddis hatch as darkness set in. And so off we went under warm, blues skies, a mild breeze and a river devoid of other anglers.

The first surprise of the day came when Jimmy unveiled his newest fishing hat made for him by one of his 4 daughters. It was a beautiful thing something to behold, decorated with nick-knacks from their recent family vacation to Florida.

Florida Fly Fishing Fedora

After the initial shock wore off I eventually forgot that he was wearing the distracting headwear, and I honestly believe Jimmy forgot it was up there too. That is, until a wind-aided cast wrapped his leader around the bird’s nest that resulted in, well, a bird’s nest.  After that the hat was replaced with something a bit more practical.

Unparalleled River Fashion


The other (pleasant) surprise of the day came in the form the the furled leader I was using for the first time. My buddy Derek Young, Washington’s only Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide (and the 2011 Orvis Endorsed Guide of the Year), had raved about the leaders he had recently gotten from Cutthroat Leader Company, and gave me a couple to try. I had, up until Derek’s act of suspicious generosity, resisted the temptation to try furled leaders because I’m cheap. And I had doubts that they would perform significantly better than traditional tapered mono.

While the cost is higher than a standard tapered leader, given the expected life of the furled leaders the price is actually quite attractive, and is about the same as the cost of a 3 pack of traditional trout leaders. But the performance was really impressive with the 76″ Dry Fly furled leader, and even delivered the hopper/dropper combination quite well.  Once I removed the dropper later in the day, the furled leader really shone. I’m sold  on Cutthroat leaders, thank you very much, Derek. As much as I detest a tandem nymph rig, I am looking forward to trying the Nymphing Leaders the next time the situation calls for it.

It wasn’t long before we got into fish, and throughout the day we had fairly decent action (none of the extended, back-to-back lulls so common to the Yakima River). I fished first while Jimmy rowed, then we switched. This repeated itself throughout the day, and we each caught enough fish to keep it interesting. All the fish were taken on the top fly, so after a couple of hours we ditched the droppers.  This also simplified things when tossing flies tight to the bank, which is where all but a couple fish were. With temps in the mid 80’s it was comfortable for us but too warm for much insect activity. A well-placed hopper or golden stone dry would produce strikes, and plenty of strikes came from 10-12 inch fish throughout the day. Jimmy had a couple nice fish slam his fly, but given reflexes akin to a reptile on a January day, he missed a couple hook sets and then lost one very nice fish (most likely a steelhead…). I managed 6-8 smaller fish, but the 15 incher (what I call “A Yakima 18”) was the best fish I’ve pulled from this river in at least 2 years. It felt good, but I know I’m in for another 2 year drought so the accomplishment was bittersweet.

Manly net

Strangely, this was the second time in as many visits to the Yakima that the boat I was in has had fairly steady catch action: a trip from a month ago was just about as productive. I’m sure as hell not suggesting that I’ve developed a case of Yakima Mojo or anything like that. I’m just not quite used to catching fish on the Yakima.

As we swapped positions and emptied the cooler as the day wore on, we watched the position of the sun and by means of dead reckoning that would have made Lewis and Clark proud, we paused where we could to let the sun drop behind the canyon walls, anticipating that the onset of evening would bring out the caddis flies. And the rising trout.  It’s that last hour before the sun drops behind the steep canyon walls that the Yakima Canyon is at it’s finest aesthetic glory.

As day gave way to evening, we enjoyed a beautiful purple sunset followed by what was destined to become a full moon, although the moon was slower to rise than the trout. Had the moon been directly overhead we’d have been able to see quite well. As it was, darkness fell quickly upon the river and at 9pm we were still a couple of miles from our take out, floating in nearly complete darkeness. There were bugs in the air, which I knew because they flew into my nose and mouth.  Trout did rise, because we could hear them doing so.  But each cast was a shot in the dark, and any hooksets, had there been any, would have been instinctual (in other words, missed). I had tied on my last size 16 caddis with the aid of reading glasses, and barely managed that feat.  Had I snapped off that last fly, it would have been game over. Lights out. And by 9:30 when we pulled the boat from the water, it was.


We returned home to the cloudy side of the mountains just before midnight.  Jimmy dropped me off at the local Safeway parking lot where I had left The Fish Taco that morning. As Jimmy drove off into the night it suddenly dawned on me that the next day was the 22nd anniversary of the wedding between Mrs. UA and myself. Luckily Safeway was still open, so I paid a quick visit for a bouquet of flowers and an anniversary card. As it turns out, Mrs. UA got me the same card. I guess we deserve each other.

Guest Post, sort of

Guest posts are typically blog entries written by someone other than myself (thus, the “guest” designation). Because I am not responsible for the nature of the content provided by guests, judgment should be reserved for them—not me.

My buddy Jimmy recently returned from a family-type float trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. He was accompanied by his two oldest daughters and his mom. Jimmy and I have been good friends for a lot of years, and he’s a great guy to fish with, although he does need to read pages 3 and 4 from A River Runs Through It. Other than that, his “social appropriateness filter” probably needs changing (or upgrading) which means that his writing isn’t quite appropriate for publication. By that I mean that if left to his own devices, Jimmy’s story would be wrought with words and themes that are not appropriate for a wholesome forum such as this.  Given his tendencies toward colorful descriptives and the like, I have taken his information and edited out indecencies while still attempting to keep the flavor of his experience in tact. Remember, I have left all material intact that I deemed appropriate:

“Fished the Middle Fork of the Salmon…Caught a lot of nice cutthroats…Had a rather pleasant time.”

And that’s all that I felt comfortable publishing.

Surely, I jest! Jimmy’s not so foul that I couldn’t post his retelling of the trip so here you go, in Jimmy’s own words (my comments, for clarification, are in red):

Middle fork of the Salmon, started outside Stanley, Idaho. Put in at Boundary Creek (elevation 5,700 feet); take out at Cache bar 100 mi downstream and a drop of 2700 feet.  Blue ribbon dry fly for West Slope Cutthroat, in the  Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, the largest mountain wilderness in the US (2.361 million acres).

Outfitter was Hughes River Expeditions (recommended by UA, fyi). Trip was 6 days & 5 nights. First couple of days were white water class 3 & 4 rapids, days 3, 4 and 5 were great fishing water.  Fished mostly with orange stimulator, or a rubber legged stonefly with a bead head pheasant tail nymph dropper, and a caddis. Had probably 8-12 double hook-ups where first fish would take the nymph and the second would chase the dry thru the water and grab it (yeah, right). Averaged 40-60 day in the 12-16 range fishing about 4-5 hrs (bullshit). Nice fat fish that had been feeding on salmon flies.

Food, guides, trip awesome for all ages. Some float boats, paddle boats, and single person kayaks. Sections remind me of the Yakima on steroids with deeper canyon walls, fresher water, larger and many more fish (so, really, nothing like the Yakima). Shit (stop swearing, Jimmy) even Payton (Jimmy’s 16 year old daughter) caught 10 fish her first day attempting fly fishing in 2 hrs (riiiight). Found a nice beaver trap probably 100+ years old, and a nice fly chest pack with a nice Orvis CFO reel made in England in it with a lot of flies, leaders, ect. It had a fishing license from a gentleman who lives in Knoxville, Tenn. Damnit!! (I assume this means you contacted him and returned the goods?)

Something for everyone on this trip.  Will fill you in on “butt darts” later. (inquiring minds want to know)


For the record, Jimmy did return the vest to the very grateful gentleman from Tennessee. Turns out the owner of the vest had left it on the shore a month or so ago earlier and had hoped that the fly fishing gods. He also sent some photos which I’ve posted here for your viewing enjoyment, with captions provided by Jimmy:

View from Stanley, Idaho.

Standard Middle Fork fish.

Poison ivy you had to watch out for.

I asked if anyone got into the Poison Ivy. Jimmy said, “No, but glad I did not have to shit because those are about the biggest leafs that were available.”

Can you beat a shitter view like this?

Sorry forgot to add this one.

Hooked a new 12 yr old boy from Oregon on fly fishing.

Thanks, Jimmy. Sounds like a great trip combining family fun with ample, and exceptional, fly fishing.

Guest Post: Shitty Clients, Part I


This is a guest post from a buddy of mine who currently guides for native steelhead on the chalk streams of Central Texas. The story is true. The names and certain locations may have been changed to protect the identities of those concerned. For example, there really aren’t steelhead in the chalk streams of Central Texas.

Shitty Clients, Part I

By the Unknown Fishing Guide

The Unknown Fishing Guide with a not-shitty client, circa 1942

Let me preface this story (so that I don’t sound like a jack-ass holier than thou guide who cares nothing about teaching, education, conservation and only about catching fish) with the fact that out of the 1,000+ guide trips I have ran in the last 10 years, there have been exactly 2 people I would never fish with again. In fact one of the best things that guiding has given me is great relationships with people from around the country that I have met as fishing clients and with whom I have became very close friends.

This particular gentleman, we’ll call him Dick, started out our trip in a particularly interesting way. After the normal morning “hey hows it going, here’s where we are floating, here’s what to expect” we hopped in my pickup and drove down into the Yakima canyon. About 2 miles out of town, Dick says: “You know, Fords are pieces of shit, you need to get a GMC.” Ok, I thought, I’ve had good luck with my truck, but he’s welcome to his opinion. We continue down the road, making small talk, and he follows up the truck comment with this gem: “Eastern Washington is the ugliest piece of shit I have ever seen, it’s full of nothing but hillbillies and rednecks”. I thought that was a little rough, especially from someone from Boston, and who had seen two of the prettier places in Washington: The Klickitat and Yakima canyons. Certainly there were our share of Hillbillies in the 509, but no more than anywhere else in the west, and substantially less than Idaho. However, I was still going to college, and although an asshole so far, some people turn it around when your fishing, and I really needed the money.

We finally arrived at the river, got the boat in the water, and rowed down to a nice pod of trout eating blue wings. The night before we fished together, Dick and my boss had dinner together, and had talked about the Green river in Utah, one of the better trout factories in the country. For those of you unfamiliar with the Yakima, it will never be mistaken for the quality of the Green. It is a unique river with it’s proximity to Seattle, but at 1,300 trout per mile in it’s densest stretch it can’t hold the jock strap of the Green. Dick quickly caught two trout out of the pod, and completed the trifecta, “This Yakima is just like the Green” he said “full of dumb fucking trout”.

The third time was the charm, and I realized at this point that nothing I could do as a fishing guide was going to please Dick, so I gave advice as needed, treated him as nicely as I could, and continued to work hard to put him on fish. On our second day of fishing we floated half of the day before a monsoon that had engulfed the state of Washington caught up to us, and the river blew out. Still several miles from the finish line, this provided Dick an opportunity to share with me his knowledge and firm belief in Bigfoot. Were it not for this hour long discussion I would have never learned that Bigfoot is most certainly real, and can turn your brain off with alpha brain waves. Dick was particularly interested in the time I had spent in Forks, one of the more popular Bigfoot spots around. Of course I couldn’t help leading him on a little bit, and after two days of dealing with his shitty attitude towards life, at least the last hour was entertaining.



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