The Photographer’s job is not to catch fish.

It’s a little unnerving to have a professional photographer constantly lurking about, snapping photos from all and strange angles. Knowing that one may be under the constant scrutiny of a camera’s lens makes stealing a quiet moment to pick one’s nose a delicate proposition (not that it happened–I’m just illustrating a point). But a photographer’s job is to tell the story that otherwise may not be told. It has been said that a picture paints a thousand words, and it’s true: photos tell a story in ways that words simply cannot, even if you’re a gifted writer, which I am not (and that is exactly why I always carry a camera). But I am not a real photographer–I simply carry a point-and-shoot to capture some images from the day which also help me recall moments worth writing about. And frankly, people like to look at pictures much more than they like reading words. Pictures are always more interesting, and I have no doubt you will look at the photos posted here. That being said I shall throw out some words for you to read if you wish.

It was a day that was all about photos. It was a day intended to be an opportunity for Jason “Orad” Small to photographically document a trip to be used as part of a presentation to be given by 2011 Orvis Endorsed Guide of the Year, Derek Young (Emerging Rivers Guide Services) the following day. Everyone’s role for the day was clearly defined except mine. I’m still not sure why I was brought along for the trip, except to take photos of the photographer taking photos and catching fish.

The water was hovering around the 45 degree mark as we mixed some tasty Bloody Marys on the tailgate. Pickled asparagus purchased that morning at Owen’s Meats in Cle Elum were nothing shy of awesome. If you’ve never been to Owen’s Meats, you really owe it to yourself to stop in for some of their products. Seriously. We did not have a particularly long float ahead of us so we were in no great hurry.

Photo by Jason Small Photography

Photo of the Photographer taking photos of bloody marys


We hit the water around noon and  started out the day nymphing the typical setup: a Pat’s Stones with a Copper John or Pheasant Tail dropper. Pink Thingamabobbers all around.  The hope was that around 1:17 in the afternoon, the March Browns would start coming off and we’d switch to dries.

As the Photographer, Orad wasted no time in getting the skunk off the boat by landing a nice, thick, post-spawn rainbow that looked as healthy as a fish can get. Likely an 18 inch fish, she was what they call a “Yakima Twenty” (always round up). This fish put a taco bend in the Orad rod as she ran upstream, downstream, under the boat and every which way but loose. A short while later Orad caught another rainbow in the 12 inch range. Apparently he forgot that he was fishing out of the back of the boat (second seat) and was supposed to be the designated photographer and not the the primary catcher of trouts.

Photo of the Photographer catching the first fish.

Photo of The Photographer and The Guide.

Photo of The Photographer's first, fine fish of the day.

Later, Derek landed one of the more spotted trouts I’ve ever seen on any water. Seriously, this thing looked like a Leopard variety rainbow from Alaska.

Photo by Jason Small Photography

Photo of the Photographer taking photos of The Guide's fish.


Photo of Mr. Spotty, The Guide's fish.

Shortly thereafter I set the hook on a fish that I’m pretty sure was a Yakima River steelhead, although Derek maintains it was a cutthroat, but I’ll never know. Let’s just say that Orad is better with a camera than he is with a net.

The Guide's Photo of the Photographer and his net.


That was the last fish touched on the day. Yet we did not see any fish rising, nor did I see any bugs popping. This provided ample opportunity for Orad to capture the other side of fly fishing: the side of fly fishing that doesn’t involve catching fish. You know- behind the scenes sort of drama that looks cooler than it really was because of good photography.

For example, this photo makes me look like I’m a decent caster…

Photo by Jason Small Photography


And this photo makes Derek’s hair look shorter than it really is…

Photo by Jason Small Photography


And this photo makes the act of pinching a barb look  interesting…

Photo by Jason Small Photography


And this photo has a certain action feel to it, when in reality there was nothing going on…

Photo by Jason Small Photography


And in this photo the Lucky Fishing Hat was not flattered by Orad’s wide angle lens, and I am left questioning whether to ever wear it again.

Photo by Jason Small Photography


At the end of great day on the water we paid a visit to The Brick in Roslyn for some excellent food. I can honestly say that the French Dip Sandwich was the best I’ve ever had, and would have been better only if I’d have been able to get a Budweiser to wash it down.

Photo of my food.


The next day I was late for Derek’s presentation at Orvis. Apparently it started at 1PM and not 1:30 as I was told. But all was not lost because while I was at the shop I picked up a few Pat’s Rubberlegs to replace the ones I’d sacrificed the day before. I’ll be needing them in a week, and if they don’t produce I’ll simply take them back to Orvis. Leland Miyawaki, the fly fishing manager, is very good at handling returns.

I hope you enjoyed the photos more than the words. I know I did. Enjoy more of Orad’s work at Jason Small Photography.


  1. Patrick

    To be honest, enjoyed both the words and photos. I am wondering, though, that if I were to set my goal to photograph a trip, I too might end up landing some nice fish from the back seat… I’m certainly not too proud to try.

    • Kirk Werner

      It’s one of those zen-like instances where, when you’re in the back of the boat taking photos and not concentrating on fishing, the guy in the front of the boat who is concentrating on fishing is not going to catch fish because the guy in the back is. Or something like that.

  2. Harry

    Yeah-try to stay away from the wide angle lens. Not a good look for you.

    Looks like it was a pretty nice trip and a good story

    • Kirk Werner

      Harry, the camera adds ten pounds which really I could stand to carry around a little extra. The problem is that it adds that ten pounds in all the wrong places.

  3. Dave

    I never realized that there was an Unaccomplished Angler Bobble Head! Where can I get one of those? I want to put it on my lanyard and show it how to become slightly more unaccomplished.

    Dunno how the weather has been up your way, but let’s just say it hasn’t exactly been fly fishing friendly here in the Willamette Valley. Let’s just say, I’ve been eating on that slice of humble pie for quite some time now.

    Hope you guys have/had a good trip to Montana, looking forward to that read. And like Harry said, stay away from the wide angle lens.

    Catch a big one!

    • Kirk Werner

      Dave, the weather has been typically unseasonably horrible up here. The trip to Yellowstone saw us fishing in sideways snow, but it was better than rain. A change of pace, as it were. We also had sporadic sunshine which we haven’t had much of here recently. Oh wait, it’s sunny out now. For a minute, anyway.

  4. David G

    Is there some sort of deal with the pink thingamabobber? Looks like you had an action-packed trip, could be the pictures though. That sandwich looks like the catch of the day!

    Speaking of taking the actual Kirk out fishing, what happened to the 2-dimensional version of you…

    • Kirk Werner

      Pink was just the manly color of the day. It was decided that if one used pink, we’d all use pink. Safety in numbers I reckon.

  5. Jim Browning

    Great Post … Our readers sometimes forget that we need to catch these beautiful fish, way before we can takes their image on the lens. It adds a whole new dimension to fly fishing that I love.

    Two Guys ~ Wet Waders & Flies

    • Kirk Werner

      Welcome, Jim and thanks for the comment. Yep, photography adds a whole new dimension to an outing. So does writing about it. The photography keeps us angling types honest because a fish we allege to be 20″ will reflect more accurately as 16″ on “film”. With writing, we can tell lies.

  6. Owl Jones

    very nice. I keep offering to do a trip like that to all my friends, but apparently taking lots of photos of flowers and landscapes keeps them from trusting me with a camera around.
    The photo where you think nothing is “going on” is actually one of the best in this set. There’s alot going on – one guy looking for the next winning fly, one guy fishing, the water rusing by, a line being tossed around in the current….lots goin’ on in that one. 🙂

    Nice post. Another most excellent UA journey.

    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks, Owl. I think maybe the key is to not tell anyone in advance that you’ll have a lens trained on them. Just tell them you’re going fishing and then surprise them.

  7. Rebecca

    Well there you go, you have an official magazine cover shot. The hat just enhances the look!
    My second day Bonefishing down at Deneki Lodge I was with Cam Miller, the official photographer and after the first hour I finally stopped jumping every time he snapped a photo of me (like a automatic gun going off)
    I like the non-action shots. Shows a true day out fishing!

    • Kirk Werner

      There must be a fly fishing magazine for this sort of shot…Dorks on the Fly?

  8. cofisher

    Nice post Kirk. I’m glad you didn’t shoot any video, I couldn’t have dealt with the non-action.

    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks, Howard. Yeah, video is so static.

  9. Dylan Rose

    Cracking me up again Kirk. Nice!

    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks, Dylan- glad to provide the services of the court jester!

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