Eat More Brook Trout
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).
“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.
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.
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.”
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.
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?
“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.
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.