The Skagit River in my home state of Washington probably needs little introduction. After all, even if you live on the other side of the world you’ve probably heard of Skagit casting and Skagit lines for Spey and switch rods. In the event that you’re still not familiar with the Skagit our good friends at Wikipedia offer a thorough description HERE.
The Skagit is a vast river system historically held in high acclaim among anglers as a destination fishery for wild steelhead. It wasn’t many decades ago that steelhead runs were plentiful throughout all rivers in this damp corner of the United States, but unfortunately the cumulative effects from overharvest, habitat loss and other environmental factors have not been kind to these fish. Wild Pacific Northwest steelhead have since been listed under the Endangered Species Act because their populations are either endangered or threatened.
While many Pacific Northwest rivers have greatly diminished runs of wild steelhead, the Skagit runs remain comparatively strong. That’s not to say that Skagit fish numbers aren’t down from historical peaks, but on its own the Skagit probably would not have been listed under the ESA.
Until 2010 a catch-and-release (C&R) season used to run through the end of April on the Skagit system. What used to be a wonderful time of year for anglers on the Skagit and it’s most notable tributary, the Sauk, is a thing of the past due to closures by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The Osprey Steelhead News does a very good job of detailing this whole matter.
After reviewing the evidence used by WDFW to justify the closure it is the belief of the grassroots Occupy Skagit movement that the evidence is flawed; that a well-managed, catch-and-release (C&R) season on the Skagit would not be inconsistent with the recovery of its wild winter steelhead.
Rather than reguritate (poorly, I might add) the information, I am posting here a piece written by an Occupy Skagit member to answer the many questions posed by fellow steelhead anglers on a Northwest online bulletin board.
It’s pretty clear to those of us who fish that no fish ever benefited by being hooked and caught by an angler. Complete preservation, of fish and their habitat, is the perfect solution from a fish’s point of view. But Occupy Skagit (OS) is not about the fish’s point of view.
OS is about steelheaders who would rather fish than see their favorite river closed to fishing forevermore. Realistically, that is the present outlook simply because there is no plan to ever open the Skagit to fishing for wild steelhead again. OS is about developing such a plan, as soon as possible, so that anglers may fish the Skagit again in their lifetimes.
The concept that we must let the fish recover before we can fish for them again is a discussion based on false assumptions and unrealistic expectations. Wild Skagit steelhead are a population in no particular need of recovery. “What?” you say, “It’s consistently produced run sizes lower than the escapement goal.” But that’s not the whole story.
Wild Skagit steelhead are the most abundant in Puget Sound. Since 1978, the run size has averaged 7,822 fish, ranging from a low of around 2,600 to a high of 16,000. The spawning escapement has averaged 6,857 steelhead after harvest, both incidental and directed. As far as anyone can know for certain, this variation in population size is completely normal. There are good years, and there are bad years. Freshwater floods and droughts limit the out-migrating smolt population from year to year. The freshwater habitat has not really changed much in the last 30 years. Some parts have degraded further, and some parts have improved. On balance, it would be hard to quantify any significant change. And marine survival factors limit the percentage of smolts that survive to adulthood and return from the ocean each year. Given what we know about run sizes and escapement over a more than 30-year period, there is no logical reason to believe that wild Skagit steelhead runs will ever consistently average above the present spawning escapement floor value.
The escapement goal is an artifact of uncertainty. The aggregate model that escapement goals were developed from in the 1980s calculated a Skagit spawning escapement goal far above 20,000. Since that seemed impractable and unrealistic, biologists rather arbitrarily picked 10,000 as an escapement guideline. In the 1980s, when marine survival was higher than it is now, that value appeared realistic. As more data were collected and analyzed, it was apparent that the Maximum Sustained Yield / Maximum Sustained Harvest escapement goal would be much lower, slightly less than 4,000. That seems low for such a large river basin, so the co-managers settled on 6,000 as a buffered escapement floor for some interim period. The take-home message in this paragraph is that no relationship exists between the Skagit wild steelhead spawning escapement goal and the actual productivity and capacity of the Skagit River basin to produce steelhead. Please re-read the last sentence and be certain that you understand it.
The last paragraph means that the Skagit wild steelhead spawning escapement goal is arbitrary, and possibly capricious. It’s meaning is primarily make-believe then. This leads me to the question of for what purpose are Skagit steelhead managed? Is it strictly species preservation, like a petting zoo, except you can’t actually pet the animals? Or is the purpose to conserve the population for the mutual long-term benefit of the species as well as human social and economic benefits. If the purpose is the former, then the present course is the one to stay on. If the latter, then a change is required.
A reinstatement of the previous C&R season will require a petition from WDFW to the National Marine Fisheries Service for a permit that establishes basin-specific allowable impacts (as is currently being done with Puget Sound Chinook).
To bring attention to this matter Occupy Skagit is calling for as many anglers as possible to turn out on April 6th and cast hookless chunks of yarn into the waters of the Skagit and Sauk rivers. The plan is to meet at Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport, WA at 9 AM. For more information visit the Occupy Skagit Facebook Page:
Sometimes you have to dump a little tea into the harbor…
I must, and therefore I will say, that the turnout for this contest was exceptional. It wasn’t necessarily the number of entries that impressed me (30), in case you didn’t check, but rather it was the quality of the hats being worn by folks and the passion those people have for their hats that really stood out. Some of the entrants went out of their way to
ramble on at length tell stories about their hats while others let their photos do the majority of the talking. No matter the case, all entries were greatly enjoyed and appreciated.
Getting to know these many hats was akin to visting the dog pound and looking at all the puppies behind the chain link fencing: while you want to take them all home, you realize that is simply not possible. By selecting 2 winners, 28 would get nothing. Not even a participant’s ribbon. It’s a tough brand of love for a cruel world. Get over it.
Alas, without further ado:
In 2nd Place, taking home the foam-filled, flat-brimmed Pabst Blue Ribbon Trucker Hat and Unaccomplished Angler sticker…
Andrew Roth. There are many reasons why Andrew was chosen to win the 2nd place prize: read his entry. But more importantly is the reason he was not chosen to win the 1st place prize:
I didn’t think he was deserving of it He really needs the PBR hat.
And in 1st Place, the lucky recipient of the autographed copy of John Gierach’s No Shortage of Good Days; signed print, Close to Home by Bob White; and a DownUnder Hat by Simms…
Jason Tucker. He said it best in his entry, “It seemed like a good idea at the time, but rum can be a mean trickster.” Jason can now have both form and function with the Simms DownUnder Hat, and for those days when the weather isn’t up to Dominican Republic standards he can stay inside and read, or gaze at the fine print that will surely grace his wall. Disclaimer: 1st place was chosen by process of elimination, whereby the top 5 entries (of my choosing) were thrown into a hat and the winner drawn accordingly.
Thank you to Bob White and John Gierach, and Simms for your generous contributions to this contest. And thank you to the legions of Unaccomplished Angler readers for taking the time out of your busy lives to engage us with your presence.
I like saving a nickel, but I also like nice things. Often times that puts me in a bit of a bind.
A few weeks ago, after jonesin’ for a pair of Korkers Fisherman’s Mocs (which I did not get for Christmas or my birthday this year as requested), I finally pulled the trigger.
I found a pair of size 8’s on Ebay for ten bucks less than the MSRP of $79.95. So I bought them. When they arrived it became immediately clear that they were way too small for my feet. Length was fine, however I have not only a wide foot, but a high instep as well. There was no way I was going to make these work.
I hear your simple advice already,”Don’t fret, UA—just send them back!”
Uh, right. Well, not quite. You see, in my haste to save ten bucks I bought them from a private Ebay seller. No returns.
Stupid stupid stupid.
So I figured I would try to sell them on a popular fly fishing forum with an active classified section. While I have not yet at the time of this writing sold the Mocs, the banter did pretty entertaining. Tough crowd.
Enter Korkers Customer Service, who got wind of my situation and offered to send me a size 9 at no cost to me.
What can I say about that? Pretty amazing customer service if you ask me, since this was something I brought on myself. And what of the new shoes? Do they fit like a glove? Thankfully, no. But they do fit my feet nicely and I am rather enjoying them.
Unless you just crawled out from under a rock or you’ve been incarcerated without access to the internets, then you know about the contest we’re running here at the UA. For the past two weeks,
needy contestants salt-of-the-Earth UA fans have been submitting their own fishing hats for consideration of a chance to win a signed copy of John Gierach’s No Shortage of Good Days; a signed, limited-edition giclee print of Bob White’s Close to Home painting, and a DownUnder Hat from Simms. Oh, and there’s also a swanky PBR trucker hat and UA sticker as a consolation prize.
In a week we’ll announce the winner(s). Feel free to comment—you may be able to influence the judges’ decisions (their integrity is questionable).
Here are the entries in no particular order….
1. Ed Meyer: “Wanted to show the hat in 3 different poses so you could see that it’s the hat that looks so damn good and not just the fact that it’s me making the hat look so damn good.” That’s a fine hat, a fine trout and a fine fox, Ed. And your beard invokes envy among lesser men such as myself.
3. Rick Mangus: “This is the best damn hat because it makes my face look so thin compared to other hats. I also have an 8 1/4 size head, Tilley makes the only one that fits me. It also always brings me a brown trout of huge size. It is the thinning though that makes it the best.” Wow, an 8-1/4 size head? You certainly can’t tell from the photo thanks to your best damn hat. I bet that brown is 27 inches, too, eh?
7. Mike Sepelak: “Well, I couldn’t pass up representin’ my go-to Adidas cap. Wouldn’t feel right on the water without it, though it’s nothing special (to anyone but me).” Your hat may be nothin’ special, Mike, but your photo is.
8. Michael Lenetsky: “This is me and my fishing hat.I love this hat because it has been my one constant companion on the streams, lakes, rivers and ponds that I fish year-round.I have attached pictures of me, and my hat, fishing together in the Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. In these pictures we have caught browns, steelhead, land locked atlantic salmon. But together we have fought so much more. The hat is about 12 years old at this point,and someday may have to be retired. Not by me, mind you, but by the forces of entropy which will eventually claim us all.This is the last great Community Fly Fisher Hat (at least as far as I am aware). Once, a beautiful salmon fly was embroidered, and clearly visible on the front of this oiled, canvas, hat. Today, that pattern still exists, but is much fainter, while the oil in the canvas is certainly of a different variety than when it was new. None the less, I love this hat and the way it makes me look. Like a serious, skilled fisherman. While my rods, reels and lines, and even fishing cars, have changed over the past year, the hat has remained the same.” Michael, that hat is clearly something that only you could love, as well should be the case with any fishing hat.
9. Peggy Stevinson: “Here is a photo of me in my fishing hat. This is a tough sport for gals who are into fashion! I wear men’s (small) waders and boots and living in chilly Colorado am usually bundled up and look like the Michelin Man gone fishing. Luckily I have my white hat to distinguish me from the guys on the river. As a Program Leader for Casting for Recovery – Colorado, I have lots of pink annual retreat pins and pink flies to adorn it. It has a wide brim to keep the sun off my face and protect my ears from my sometimes wild casts. It brings me luck! I hope you like it as much as I do. Have fun with this contest, I am anxious to see the results!” Peggy, nobody is ever going to mistake you for a man, Michelin or otherwise, while wearing that hat. It’s really quite something to behold—wear it with pride and thanks for your leadership with CFR!
10. Lisa Brain: “These really dont need any explanation but hat one is obviously a great hat since it brings in the “big” fish, the second just complements the farmers tan and what can I say about hat 3.” Lisa, as you know you don’t get extra credit for extra hats, but they are damn fine hats—all of them. What is this Tahuya thing? 😉
11. Kris Kerr: “This is me with my lucky fishing hat. It’s a Real Deal Brazil truck tarp hat. I first saw it on Woody Harrelson in the movie Zombieland. I said to myself that I had to have one. I liked the used look to it and each hat is unique in a way due to how they choose the tarp and cut patches etc. Plus I looked damn sexy in it! I didn’t get for fishing at first though. I have always used a baseball cap I have had forever when I go fishing because I considered it my all around lucky hat. Well some fucktard stole it in a burglary at my house last year. Left the tarp hat, took the used baseball hat, WTF! Anyway I digress. I took this hat fishing and it seemed to be the missing link in my fishing mojo. I started landing fish more and got my first steelhead on the fly in the picture I sent. I had been trying for almost 2 years to land a steelie on the fly, lot’s of hookups but no landings. Now a case could be made I caught more fish because I actually practiced casting before the season, learned to read the water better and matched the river bugs by doing some research. Nah, it’s the hat. P.S. Gotta give props to my friend Grant Richie for getting that hatchery hog. He owns the Minam Raft Rentals on the Wallowa River in Oregon. He let me tag along on a float down the Wallowa and Grande Ronde last month. Kris, that’s a damn fine pond monkey and you’re lucky to have such a damn fine hat because, as you suggested, a good hat trumps talent any day. Ask me how I know…
13. Howard Levett: “Well, here it is Kirk. The best I can do.” Anything more would have been uncharacteristic, Howard. Thank God you’re consistent.
14. Eric Boatman: “I have attached a photo of my entry into the No shortage of good Hats Contest. I wear this hat almost always when I got fishing. First it’s brown and tan and goes well with my both my Neoprene and my Breathable waders (looking good really matters out on the river).. Two it’s a trucker hat and I am a fairly large guy and usually have to walk/hike pretty far to get to the good fishing spots so the mesh on the back helps me to keep cool and not sweat too much. Third it has a Beaver on it. What man doesn’t love some good Beaver…? LOL anyway… I love this hat because it stays put on my head and brings me luck. Please consider me for your contest and I love reading your Blog!” Pulling out all stops with the beaver card, eh Eric? Well-played, sir 😉
15.Don Cranfill: “This hat has literally hundreds of miles paddling with me. It has fished all over the country and been through hell and back. When I got it, it was UV rated and waterproof. You can’t tell in the pic, but it is now threadbare and you can read a newspaper through the top. I have considered replacing it the last few years, but…I broke down and start shopping around this season. Maybe, just maybe, the fishing Gods will bestow upon me a replacement. Thanks for the great contest!” Don, I must say you build a strong case for winning this contest. In fact, maybe you will win. Then again, you
probably won’t may not.
16. Derek Young: “You cannot argue that this is not your winner. My logic – 1) A smiling, pretty woman in a hat. 2) A smiling, pretty woman rowing the drift boat. Let everyone know the contest is already over…” Sir, do you really think that posting some random photo of a smokin’ hot hoochie mama in a hat in a drift boat will earn you any favors with the judges?
17. Cory Zurcher: Great contest with great prizes. I too appreciate a great hat. I have attached a photo and a description, it is the first and only hat I have owned that had its own proper name and a story behind it. This hat (the go to hell hat) has traveled the world on my noggin it keeps me warm and dry it is oiled canvas with a fleece lining. But even better my great wife likes it, I can tell because she is smiling in the picture with me in the hat. The name is from a friend who asked, ‘does that hat get any strange looks?’, I said yes. His response, ‘I assume that you wear it then to say they can go to hell if they don’t like the way it looks.’ Thanks again for a great read.” Cory, you’re a lucky man to have a great wife that actually likes your Go To Hell Hat. It would be a damn shame if you told her to Go To Hell just because she didn’t like your hat.
18. Bud Alcock: “Here is my favourite and I DO wear it most of the time.” If I’m not mistaken, Bud, your hat looks like a Filson; the same hat worn by Gierach. I bet he called you to ask where you got your damn fine hat…
19. Brian Kozminski: “My favorite hat. An Eddie Bauer felt classic fedora. It has kept me warm on colder days, dry in inclement weather and rather adds to my ego when the ladies say it looks like and Indiana Jones hat. I used to correct them and tell them it was felt, his was a leather fedora, but have since given up.” A fine lid indeed, Koz. I get a lot of women making similar comments about me when wearing my hat. No, wait. I lied.
20. Bob Triggs: “Olympic Peninsula fly fishing guide Bob Triggs. On the Puget Sound Saltchuck, fishing for sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout.” Say, are you THE Bob Triggs—The Little Stone Fly Fisher? That’s a damn dapper looking cap and conjures up images of Ireland moreso than the OP.
21. Al Gustaveson: “Min lilla fiskefarm (My Little Fishing Farm); Lat/Lon: 47˚36′ N 93˚30′ W; Elevation:1402;On the Northern Side of the Continental Divide” That’s a damn fine looking hat, Al. Befitting of the proprietor of Min lilla fiskefarm.
22. Aileen Ellis: “My hat is so awesome, I can tie flies from it.” Wait, your name sounds familiar—are you somehow associated with www.mkflies.com ? And aren’t you that chick that stops to harvest road kill?
23. Rob Alderman: “Let me begin by apologizing for the long email…I just saw your great article online about fishing hats, and your contest. For your perusal, I’d like to submit my Simms Fly Fishing hat. Now, I have many more fishing hats, but this is the one I wear. I’ve had the hat for a couple of years, which I guess isn’t a long time, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t seen a lot of wear. The hat has seen water all throughout the United States, and has spent tons of time protecting me from the elements. I keep the “go to” flies I need on it, and they never change… BWO, Prince Nymph, Comparadun Sulpher, #10 Olive Wooly, and a Copper John. Most days, I just fish with what is on my hat. But what makes this hat so special? Well sir, it’s been through 4 tornados. Yes. You heard me right. FOUR tornados. What I mean, is that I actually was wearing this hat DURING three tornados WHILE ON FISHING TRIPS. Now, you may say, “This hat is cursed!” BUT NAY!!!! I say, “This hat is a secret weapon that not only lures trout to my line, but even keeps me safe from the harshest elements that Mother Nature can throw my way.” I mean, who knows what might have happened if I HADN’T had that hat on? We might not be having this conversation. Just sayin…Note – The hat was also on my head during the April 27th tornados in 2011, but I wasn’t fishing at that time.The Hat was on my head as I floated the South Holsten river in Bristol during two tornados on May 26, 2011.The hat was on my head as I fished the Hiwassee River near Charleston TN on March 2nd 2012. So, there you go. I may not win the contest, but i feel like this hat deserves to have it’s story told. Thank you for your consideration.” Wow, Rob, that’s an almost unbelieveable history your hat has. In fact there are probably countless folks who wouldn’t believe you. But I believe you. Really, I do. No—seriously.
24. Shelby Sim: “I love this hat…it’s comfortable, but sometimes my ears pop out from under it and I burn the tips …not so great. But it’s my fave cuz it’s the only one I’ve got. Pushed my lucky hook clip off and on the brim a few too many times so it’s getting raggedy. That full brim hat looks comfy!! And shadey!! ….pick me!! LOL!!” Well, OK, Shelby—since you begged, you win! Kidding. Maybe. Maybe not.
25. Adam Austine: “Dear Unaccomplished angler, My name is Adam Augustine and I live in Fort Collins, CO. I just saw your no shortage of good hats contest and thought it was brilliant. I have two hats that I go between mainly, since I live in fort collins I have a winter and a summer hat. My summer hat is a Salt Institute hat given to my by a good friend who works for the city of fort collins. My winter hat is an old stocking cap I found in a hat bin at my parents house. There is a winter park hat that holds a special place in my heart. My mother passed away in 2008 while I was working at Winter Park Resort so I have a good connection while I’m out fishing when I where that hat. Plus I caught that frog on a pike fly…. not bad! I hope you enjoy the pictures. I made sure to pick the good ones. Thank you, Adam” Adamn fine couple of hats you got there, Adam. But let us not overlook the sunglasses in the first photo—if this were a sunglass contest you would walk away the winner.
26. Dean Claus: “I live in Longmont, Colorado and consider the waters of the northern front range home territory. My favorite fishing hat and I have shared many adventures. The bond we developed over the years is such that I don’t even own another fishing hat. My hat and I have been together since the late 1980s. If my memory is correct, I purchased it in Georgetown, Colorado for about $16. It was made by the Henschel Hat Company. According to their website they still make the model I wear. It is an Aussie Brown from their Leather Walker Collection.There was I time when I had another hat that I bought from Cabelas. But that one left me to find a new owner when I went for an unexpected dip in a local trout stream. My current Henschel hat is of finer character. With its draw cord it has always been faithful and stuck with me even when I lost my footing and drifted downstream without a raft. Additionally, with its wide brim it has protected me from the sun, the rain, nasty willow branches, and possible “ear flossings.” I cannot imagine a better, more loyal fishing hat. Another benefit of wearing this hat is, it covers my baldness and helps me to look like the dashing outdoors-man that I am. With my hat on my head I could stand next to Teddy Roosevelt and not feel out of place. I believe that a fly fisherman should look like a gentleman adventurer, not a manikin from the REI store. And, my Henschel Aussie Brown does the trick for me. If I outlive my Henschel Aussie Brown, I suppose I would try to find another hat that shares its qualities. Any fishing hat for me must be loyal, able to protect me from the sun, rain, rogue branches, out of control casts, and it needs to make me look like a the Indiana Jones of the angling world.” Dean, if I were you I wouldn’t plan on outliving that hat of yours—it looks like it’s built to stand the test of time. Not that you don’t appear well-suited to live another 120 years or so, but that hat is rugged.
27. Jeff Holberg: “I didn’t pick this hat, it picked me. Early on, I spent a lot of time searching for the perfect hat… a Lefty Kreh up-downer that abandoned ship when I capsized on the Brazos River, a fluorescent lime green one that disappeared mysteriously, even a Filson Packer like the one Gierach uses to distinguish himself from the the homeless. None worked for me. No, this hat, given to me by the owner of the sadly now defunct Austin Angler, hitched a ride on a long ago trip to Montana and and stayed, ingraining itself into my being.I always thought sticking used flies onto a hat was lame, but it seems My Hat yearned for adornment. However My Hat is selective when it comes to which flies it keeps. While flies I like are promptly flung off to the great unknown, it appears My Hat has a thing for Bead-head nymphs. Fortunately My Hat has a penchant for keeping some: the Chernobyl Ant responsible for a butterball 20″ trout, the only fish from a long hot day on the Yellowstone, the Damsel Fly that out of season, provided a 50+ fish day, the yellow bream bug that hooked a 4 pound Largemouth; as a chronicle of good times. My Hat was never a looker, but hell, neither am I. Time, sun, and sweat have given us both a patina reflecting lives well misspent.” I get what you’re saying about the hat picking you, Jeff. In that regard, hats are like dogs. They’re also like dogs because over time they begin to smell. However, unlike dogs, hats should never be washed.
29. Jason Tucker: My hat will probably be the ugliest entered in your contest, reason enough to allow me to win. There is one reason I wear it- sheer utility. I bought this while on vacation in the Dominican Republic. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but rum can be a mean trickster. This hat has several things going for it none of which are cosmetic.
30. Andrew Roth: “First and foremost thanks for the Blog(suck-up move that every blogger extends to one another early in the communication)Your whit is off the chart, and I read a few all of your posts that come across my inbox. I have worn hats all of my life. This may account for my twisted personality disorder and intermittent brain function. I can directly trace most of my neurological problem to the constant wearing of hats. Excessive heat build-up, hat band blood vessel constriction etc. The other possibility is the fact that I am a trout guide with a botany degree. The extensive testing of wrongly Identified herbaceous plants, fungi and tree bark may have some effect as well, but I digress.I am in this contest to win it, I must say though there is a special attraction to the PBR hat. Growing up in the late 60’s, 70′, 80’s, 90’s 00’s,,,,,OK, OK I am a trout guide and have not grown up yet. Anyhow, growing up in Milwaukee when the city was the “Beer Capital Of the World” still means the world to me. Many brands were King but Pabst Blue Ribbon was my Fathers brand. They say that we are products of our environment and I know they are right. My father was a smart, tough, hard working middle America tradesmen. He worked hard and played hard. He always got up for work the next morning.Tending to run with a younger crowd these days I am constantly astounded by selections from the craft beer market. Quite frankly it is both confusing and frightening. The artwork on the labels is fantastic but I’m never sure of what is in the bottle. With names like Zombie Dust, Dead Guy Ale, Ruthless Rye and Darkness I am sure I am going straight to Hell(oh, thats another one). Most of the time I do end up feeling like hell considering the hang over that follows a cooler full of beers ranging from 7.5 to 11.9% alcohol content. Consequently I mostly go old school and show up with a 6-pac of 16 oz. PBR’s. I know what’s in the can. With a slogan like “Natures choicest products provide its prized flavor” it would seem like I would surely survive a night of drinking it. History says a bunch of guys showed up in 1893 to drink a bunch of beer, and this one got the blue ribbon. Sorry, I just realized that beer may have something to do with my problem. Maybe it was the rugby. A solid plug for Pabst anyhow. Hats yes hats! Here are a couple of photos that were taken of me. They are embarrassing and would tarnish my Linked-In reputation if they ever got onto social media my favorites, you choose.” Well, Andrew, you certainly are a man of many hats: some cool, some whimsical, and one in particular just a bit disturbing. I appreciate your generous offer to join you for some Wisconsin angling, but after seeing the photo of Hat #4 I think I may have to pass. However, if anyone else wants to spend a day with you I’ll post your website here: www.graygoatflyfishing.com
31. Mark Kelly: “This is my “handicap” fishing hat. It was awarded by my fishing buddies. You are supposed to wear it fishing & other fishing club functions until it is awarded to the next “lucky” angler. Interestingly it is up to the owners discretion as to which criteria (if any) they should apply to award the hat…” Unfortunately, Mark, you did not identify which of the gentleman in the photo is you, so we can only speculate. Left side, in the camo hat, correct?
32. Art Kaemmer: Worn only by the proud, the few: members if the Hoover Institute for Piscatorial Excellence (HIPE). A hat reserved for only a very elite group, eh Art? Only the few, the proud— can get away with wearing a pink hat.
33. Freddy Clayton: Dear Mr. Angler, I have attached a photo of my awesomely spectacular fishing hat and me. The picture was taken on the last day of a 5-day kayak and fishing excursion a friend and I took in the backcountry of the Everglades in January 2013. My hat is spectacularly awesome not (sadly) because I look so dang good in it, but rather because it makes me look as if I catch fish. I love to fly fish, and most of my efforts occur around Florida, hunting in-shore saltwater prey – primarily redfish, snook, and sea trout. I am notorious among my friends for two elements of my interest: my obsession with fly fishing, and my consistent lack of success. My hat, however, is so fishy-looking that folks who see me flailing with my fly rod presume, with no justification, that I must know what I am doing. Additionally, I have attached to the hat a roseate spoonbill feather. I received the feather as a prize for catching the largest snook among eight of us who fished in the Everglades for four days three years ago. Our adventure occurred immediately after a major freeze that killed tens of thousands of fish, depleting the snook population drastically; it has not recovered yet. Because of the paucity of fish, however, I was able to win the largest-snook contest with a puny, 17-inch juvenile. It was the only snook anyone caught. So my hat not only creates the misimpression that I am a competent fly fisherman, but it also displays the only fishing award I will ever receive absent divine intervention.
I love your blog. I found on your site a kindred spirit. I love to fly fish, I do so as inexpensively as possible, and I fish often without much success (at least as measured by the fish I land). I also do not go to remote, exotic locations or have trophy fish to describe. I do almost all my fishing from my kayak, and I often fish alone. One of the blessings I enjoy is living in Florida, so I can fish in the flats and shallow lagoons on our coasts, especially the Everglades in Southwest Florida and the Mosquito Lagoon area in eastern Florida. I have spent hundreds of hours sight-casting to fish in those areas as well as blind casting to fishy-looking spots; my inability to hook and catch my targets is remarkably consistent. The failure to land fish, however, does not detract substantially from the joy I get from the activity. I love being on the water, constantly trying to improve and refine my casts, and determining where the fish are likely to be. It is always a glorious experience. And I have become a very avid tie flier; catching the occasional fish on a fly I have tied is a special treat. As with my fishing, however, my tying is not very skilled, but it sure is fun.
I have ordered your three books for my next-door neighbor’s son, who needs an early introduction to the ineffable joy of fly fishing. And I can’t wait for one of our sons to give us a grandchild – we’ll be ordering more books and showing them that fly fishing is one of life’s great pleasures. Well done, Freddy—now you are showing everyone else how to suck-up to the judges, sir! Oh, and thank you.
34. Ross Slayton: No big if’n I dont win, but I do like sharing off the way my hat and ‘stache compliment and camoflage my ugly mug. Ross, if I could grow handlebars like yours I might be able to get away with wearing a hat like yours as well. Unfortunately, I am capable of neither.
If you’re a beginning fly fisherman the first thing you need to accept is that the term “fly fisherman” encompasses both the male and female gender. The next thing requiring your acknowledgement is that you have no place being here at the Unaccomplished Angler, where only seasoned veteran anglers
and obsessed hacks hang out. In other words, if you’re a fly angling noob and you are reading this then you are in way over your head, which is something no fisherman (or woman) ever wants to experience.
So, beginners take note: please leave. But not before clicking over to the Redington website. Check out the New To Fly section where you’ll find, among other things, a series of helpful videos. Redington is a company in the fly fishing industry that is really making a concerted effort to attract those who’ve yet to wet a line and provide quality gear at reasonable prices for those who’ve already been on the water. For many beginners the myriad choices of gear and information to get started can be daunting. The information provided by Redington should go a good ways toward helping you make some sense of all this fly fishing madness.
The guy in the Redington videos may be no expert fly fishing guide like Hank Patterson, but the videos cover important topics and will aid you in your quest for compleat fly fishing comprehension. Or at least the information contained therein may get you started on the right foot so that you avoid the multitude of mistakes that often plague new fly anglers.
One thing Redington didn’t cover on their website is photo etiquette. When you pose for a photo with your first fish, don’t put your rod in your mouth. There’s no reason for this.