Month: February 2013

No Shortage of Good Hats: a Contest

Better with, than without, the hat.

I was recently inspired by a movie trailer featuring John Gierach from the Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) a couple years back, which I missed.  I may be a little late to the party, but when this film made its debut isn’t important—it’s the timeless message that I’m more interested in.

At 2:40 of the trailer (below) Gierach declares, “I like this hat because I look so damn good in it.”


I do not declare to look anywhere near as good as Gierach, however I do have a damn fine-looking fishing hat; a hat which, when I’m under it I look much better than when I’m not; a hat so deserving that I’ve written about it before HERE.

Now I want you to shout about your hat…


Take a photo of yourself wearing your favorite fishing hat. If so inclined, write a brief declaration as to why it’s such a damn fine hat and why it makes you look so damn good when you’re wearing it. Admittedly a description may not be necessary because a picture paints a thousand words, but words ensure that nothing gets left unsaid.

I’ll post the entries on the UA blog for all to enjoy. After a week of being displayed a winner will be chosen to win the prizes below.

From the entries I’ll determine which is either my favorite hat, or a hat so pathetic that you’re obviously in need of a new one. Here are the prizes you’ll be vying for:

“No Shortage of Good Days” by John Gierach

A hardcover edition of Gierach’s book, No Shortage of Good Days (signed by the author and cover artist Bob White). Includes an original pencil sketch on the title page by Bob. A $44 value.

“Close to home” by Bob White

A Limited Edition 19″ x 15″ Giclee Print, “Close to Home” by Bob White (signed by Bob and Gierach). This painting is featured on the cover of  No Shortage of Good Days and also commemorated their 100th column together in Fly Rod & Reel. Retail price $300.00.

Simms DownUnder Hat

The winner will also receive a DownUnder hat by Simms.

“Simms’ DownUnder Hat pays homage to the southern hemisphere, with deluge-proof 100-percent oiled cotton-canvas construction. It features an elastic sweatband, snug-fitting so it won’t blow skyward, and is detailed with a leather Simms logo.” A $44.95 value.

Needs no description

But wait—there’s more! 

Just to make sure we spread the love around, the second place winner runner-up will receive this fine Pabst Blue Ribbon Trucker Hat and a UA sticker. Priceless.

Email your entry to me: unaccomplishedangler (at) gmail (dot) com

Do so by March 13th. Winners will be announced on March 20.

It’s madness, I say—March Madness, here at the Unaccomplished Angler.



A mid-winter taste of skunk

For the third year in a row I drove cross-state in the middle of winter to my buddy Jawn’s home in Lewiston, ID to partake of the annual Clearwater River Debauchery: Steelhead & Fireball & PBRfest. That’s not the official name of the event, but it is rather descriptive.

Year One

The first year the event drew a relatively small crowd of respectable drinkers anglers. Plenty of fish were caught this first year: 9 total and all were hatchery fish that ended up in the cooler. My math skills aren’t the best, but by my reckoning that was dangerously close to two fish apiece. And if you count a couple whitefish and a belly-hooked sucker, we actually caught more than two fish per angler. Like a riveting pilot episode for a would-be TV series, this first trip ensured that we’d be back for a second season. The key aspect of this first tour was that nobody got skunked.

Year Two

The next year saw a dramatic increase in the size of the event, as a second boat was added to accommodate what would be a total of 9 anglers drinkers. I’d love to be able to give more details from the trip but it wouldn’t be fair to those in attendance. And I can’t remember much of it anyway. I do know that the catch rate was respectable and only one of those in attendance got skunked (and it wasn’t me). In contrast to the first year, most of the fish caught were wild unclipped fish which had to be thrown back. Still, we took a few fish home and it was someone other than myself that would carry the weight of the Skunkopotamus on their shoulders for a year.

Year Three

The third year proved to be yet another unique adventure as we added yet another newcomer to the mix, as well as a returning cast member from the premier season (who did not attend the second year). With 11 anglers on two boats it would be a tall order to fill everyone’s steelhead tags. Despite several rather tall chaps on board (excluding of course, myself), the order proved too tall and far fewer fish were caught this year. In fact the skunk was tasted by two anglers this year, myself included. I could spout all sorts of reasons, including a lack of rain to bring fresh fish up the river, too much angling pressure, cheap beer, poor reflexes and bad boat driving, but most of those reasons would be inaccurate. Particularly the part about the poor boat driving: our guides are top-notch. If you’re ever looking for a good outfitter, check out Hells Canyon Sport Fishing. Anyone who does any amount of fishing knows that success is not guaranteed, and skunks happen. But every guide does their best to put every guest on a fish. And therein lies an opportunity…

Unaccomplished Outfitters & Guide Services

I’m pondering starting my own guide business and doing something a little different: Unaccomplished Outfitters & Guide Services, where the motto will be: “We can’t guarantee you a skunk, but we’ll do our damnedest.” The one problem standing in my way of this dream is that I’m reasonably confident that I should never be allowed to receive a boat license for a motorized vessel on moving water. Drift boats are one thing, but add a couple hundred horses attached to the stern and…well, I’m fairly certain I’m better off just fishing. Scratch that idea.

Before we wrap things up I’d like to give a big shout out to the local Pabst Blue Ribbon distributor in Lewiston for the “sponsorship” swag. They supplied us with lawn chairs, bottle openers, beer koozies, t-shirts and hats; all nice stuff which added a touch of class to our event. I know what you’re thinking:  You want that hat. Stay tuned—there may be a chance to win it!

Born to be fishy.

Anyone who has followed the Unaccomplished Angler for a period of time is familiar with the name ‘Marck’. Do a search within the blog and his name, though not his real name, will pop up countless times. He’s a fishy son of a mother, and it’s no exaggeration that he outcatches everyone else with whom he fishes 99.9% of the time. When he fishes with me that percentage goes up.

Fortunately he’s a good-natured fellow (he also has a boat) or I’d have disowned him as a friend long ago. As an angler, and a parent, it appears as though he’s passed along that fishy DNA to his youngest daughter, Reychelle (not her real name). A recent float down the Yakima Canyon was not her first time fishing by any means—the 13 year-old has gone fishing with her pappy several times before, mostly to lakes holding stocked trout which can be had with typical spinning gear. Neither was this her first time fly fishing, though she’s not done much of it.

And so it was on a chilly day in mid February that a young angler caught her first fish on the fly and proved that being a good angler has nothing to do with age, skill, experience or luck: it has to do with breeding. I’m convinced you either have it or you don’t. I, for example, do not. Tenacity and delusions of one day acquiring a certain prowess as an angler are all that keep me going.

Fishy Father and Daughter

After arranging for a shuttle at Red’s recently opened fancy new Fly Shop we launched The Hornet at MM20 for a half day float. It was 38 degrees as we put in under thin clouds that threatened to burn off and get us close the 48 degrees that the weather app promised. The sun even managed to poke through as we prepared to launch for a 5 hour tour. If Reychelle’s quiet enthusiasm were an indication, we were in for a good day.

Youthful enthusiasm.

Take most other beginning fly anglers, put them in a boat with two other adults full of instruction and advice on how to do things, and most people would crumble under the pressure—or resort to profanities directed at said givers of instruction. Not Reychelle. She soaked it all in, processed the overload of information, and did a remarkably good job of managing what is perhaps the most difficult type of fly fishing that one can endeavor to experience: double nymph rig fishing under an indicator. Key word delivered repeatedly: MEND!

Landing her first fish on the fly!

Sure, she missed a few hook sets. That’s to be expected. She hooked but failed to land one particularly nice fish—probably a “Yakima 20” (translation: 18 inch fish). Who hasn’t done that? But she handily out-fished both her old man and myself. In Marck’s defense, he was on the sticks most of the day so he didn’t have a lot of time to fish. He did, however, hook a very nice fish early in the day and handed the rod to his neophyte daughter so that she might play the fish, which she did—for a while. In the end, she hooked, all on her own, and landed one very respectable Yakima rainbow trout, which is more than the adult in the back of the boat was able to say.

Like Father, like daughter: Fishy

The day wore on and clouds thickened, making it readily apparent that the sun was not going win the battle. As the sun faded behind a curtain of gray, a light wind developed in the afternoon; a breeze that cut through fleece like a steak knife through tofu. It got cold.

A late winter’s day sort of cold.

And while I publicly acknowledged my discomfort, Reychelle stood stoically in the bow of the boat, seemingly undaunted by the plummeting temperature. Hesitant to show weakness, she begrudgingly donned an oversized jacket only in the last hour of the day, by which time I wept openly. Not only was she a better angler, but she also won out the intestinal fortitude contest as well.

If I was able to come away with an ounce of confident superiority over my 13 year old adversary it was that she’s not very accomplished on the sticks. Yet.

That’ll probably change soon.


The Fly Fishing Show wants YOU

It’s no coincidence the Fly Fishing Show makes the rounds this time of year: a time of year when most anglers are going absolutely stir-crazy from a lack of fishing. In all but a few temperate zones, all but winter steelhead  fishermen are suffering from a bad case of the shack nasties. In that regard one might think that the Fly Fishing Show is a good will endeavor; a therapeutic offering for thousands of folks suffering from cabin fever.

Not so fast.

The people that plan the Fly Fishing Show are no dummies—they know exactly what they’re doing. And what they’re doing is preying on the angling public. Pasty-skinned folks from all across the country gather in droves, lining up like lemmings to gain entry into a large facility filled with fly fishing goodness. These poor innocent folks are seeking to substitute a lack of vitamin D and actual time on the water with a fly fishing feeding frenzy.  The vast assembly of  gear manufacturers, guide services and fly tying-exhibitors know the bite is on, and they’re there to match the hatch. It’s easy pickin’s this time of year: the public isn’t thinking with a clear head.

In the past, the Fly Fishing Show came to Bellevue, WA, just a couple miles east of Seattle. I paid too much for parking one year and managed to get out of there having spent less than $100 on gear and doo-dads I didn’t realize I needed until I saw them. Like a prescription drug, I felt immediately better after making the purchase. And then the Show was gone for a few years. Must’ve had to do with the recession. Whether the recession is over or not the Show is back, although no longer in Bellevue. This year the Show makes its appearance at the Convention Center in Lynnwood, 17 miles to the north of Seattle. Traditionally the land of furniture stores, 90’s era Camaro’s and big hair, now Lynnwood is also home to the Fly Fishing Show.

Like years before, this year I’ll be attending the show as a winter-weary spectator eager to kick tires and test cast a new rod. Lately I’ve been thinking I need a 3 weight since mostly all I ever catch are sub-ten-inch trouts. But I’ll also be at the Author’s Booth signing Olive the Woolly Bugger books. Stop on by if you’re at the show; bring your kids and their own copies of books, or purchase books at the show. I’ll be there at 11:oo AM on Saturday and 12:30 PM on Sunday: here’s the full schedule. If children’s fly fishing books aren’t your thing, there are some other authors who may interest you, including these folks:

11:00 Kirk Werner
12:00 Ed Engle, Rick Hafele
1:00   Gary Borger, Jason Randall
2:00   Philip Rowley
3:00   Simon Gawesworth, Tim Lockhart
4:00   Cecilia “Pudge” Kleinkauf

11:30 Chris Santella, Cecilia “Pudge” Kleinkauf
12:30 Ed Engle, Kirk Werner
1:30   Simon Gawesworth, Philip Rowley
2:30   Rick Hafele, Jason Randall
3:30   Gary Borger, Tim Lockhart

If you miss the show in Lynnwood, you have one last chance to attend in Lancaster, PA on March 2 and 3rd.  

See you at the show—bring your credit card.

Two Tickets to Paradise: a Contest

Eddie Money may have had a bit more lavish destination in mind when he sang his 1977 hit (which I heard him sing live in 1978 when he opened for Van Halen in Seattle)…sorry, where was I?  Oh yeah.  Two tickets to paradise. But you’re not going to find two tickets to Patagonia, Kamchatca, New Zealand or any other fly fishing paradise here.  What you will find are 2 tickets to the Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) and a free hat. I’ll even throw in a much-coveted UA sticker.


It’s easy. Here’s all you have to do to win:

Get your hands on a photo of a paradise destination (fishing or otherwise) and post it to the wall of the Unaccomplished Angler’s Facebook Page. You can get all your friends to vote/like if you want, but in reality I will make the final decision. So, when you post your photo, you might do well to do a little sucking up.

• Check the tour schedule to see when it’s coming to your town. It may already have been there or it might be gone before you receive the winning tickets.

• This contest ends on February 7th

• I will mail out the tickets and hat to the winner on February 8th.

• This contest valid only in the continental US

There’s not much time—GO!