All sports have record books and all of them contain asterisk.
An * in THE book lets the reader know there is more to the story and often times it has to do with getting tangled up in the rules during some important feat of wonderful.
Luckily the fly fishing record book is not that thick nor that important (to some of us). However the sport of fly fishing and all its nuances, traditions and history can make an angler feel as if he crossed some mythical line now and then and he might feel his success requires an asterisk. No one really is keeping track of the amount of * your fishing soul is haunted by and I am pretty sure it won't count for much when you end up at the gate. The manual explains that to stay aligned cosmically and spiritually in the affairs of fly fishing when receiving an * it is highly recommended you lead with "yeah but....." when glorifying your extraordinary skill to your fishing buds to keep the voodoo away.
Because the original governing body of American Fly Fishing according to some hip boot wearing, silk line, stuffy Catskill dude, never had funding for a Rules, Moral and Ethics committee, there has been a few things left for personal interpretation. Everyone has to look in the mirror or at the picture and decide; is that an asterisk fish?
Lets go through a few:
"Yeah but I was being Guided"= no asterisk.
Unless the guide caught it you did all the hard work. Sure you cut a few corners and maybe a year or so off the learning curve but being guided to fish and eventually catching them was what you paid for. Enjoy, no penalty stroke here.
"Yeah but I was pegging eggs"= no asterisk
There are rules and regulations to follow here, as long as you are playing by the book the fish you catch should not have an *
This is however NOT a Fly so that opens up a chapter in a totally different manual.
"Yeah but it was on the Squirmy Worm"=no asterisk
All of Europe would love to have an asterisk next to the last 4 Youth World Championships. Its no secret that doll hair/ furry ball material in pink, brewed in the mountains of North Carolina has changed the fly fishing world forever. But they actually have a rules committee and they decided the junk is legal. No asterisk. "Junk"=* because junk in my world is good
All the hate surrounding fishing with worm and egg patterns just comes from their unsophisticated nature within this sport that seems to thrive on complicating things. I'm starting to suspect there is a secret society of Beards trying to prevent the holy grail from being discovered and protecting the difficult nature of catching trout on a fly.
Stocked fish in wild trout water=*
"Yeah but it was a Great Lakes Steelhead"= no asterisk
So? "Yeah but it was a B run"= no asterisk
So? "Yeah but I didn't catch it on the swing" = no asterisk
God sometimes we are just to hard on ourselves. When your quarry is a migratory fish that technically is not interested in eating and maybe swam like 700 miles to get to you you can go ahead and drop any unnecessary explanations.
As we have waded deeper into fly fishing in Merica we have come across some interesting little rapids to navigate. At one point Beadheads, Indicators and even Nymphing had an asterisk attached to their incredibleness. Hell, tying with synthetics was a big time sin not long ago.
A Maniac* I know puts it best "It's just fishin"
SERIOUSLY.....THE BEST conditions for early February anyone can remember.
So far, this has been the winter that wasnt and while some of the ski peeps are losing their minds the fish are psyched.
I am not one to get to freaked out about the weather, it's coming, it always does.
But what if it doesn't?
Well then you will be listening to the chorus sing "you should have been here yesterday"
Suffered through a few 50 degree days in January early February
Don't look back this spring and wish you fished the best winter conditions ever.
Don't put off till tomorrow what you should be fishing today.
Lulls in the fishing can be typical during winter fishing, usually because of water temps, weather or lack of available bio mass. This Feburary has been much more like spring as the fish are visibly fattening up before my eyes on loads of bug life and this has made things tricky at times.
Lots of sun bathers and even a few risers in the neighborhood to sneak up on
The stomach pump has been full of large midge larva and almost every knot, hook or split shot is covered with them after just a few drifts. The fish have gradually turned away from the larger lead flies of late as they seem to be keying in on Midges. Strangely enough this is when red, purple and blue patterns pay the bills.
5 doubles that afternoon (that's something I count)
There's a lot of love up here right now, maybe it has something to do with cupids day. All I know is this has been one of the best stretches of winter fishing I have ever experienced. Get up and fish so you don't have to hear some ass tell you how good it was yesterday.
To say the weather here at 8000 feet has been unseasonable would be an understatement. We have been spoiled rotten by an abundance of open water and eager fish for more than a few weeks and old man winter is still not threatening to come around. Very comfortable March like conditions. Enjoy.
They don't have that color on Photoshop
Must taste good
Meadow Midge Eater
#10 1150 Caddis has taken more than it's fair share as of late
That fly was tied at a recent tying night hosted by Crazy Mountain Brewing
lil red has gas
The up coming 7 days have above seasonal temperatures in the forecast (mid-high 40's) you should get out and wack a few with me. Winter will be back for sure but while we wait I have some special swag for anyone that mentions this stupid blog and contacts me direct. Each person gets a FREE Logo Bamboo Long sleeve Tech shirt ($59 value) and 12 Custom Bugs (worthless) with any trip done with me before February 20th,
That actually starts to make it worth hanging around me for the day.
Did you hear about the Big To Do in Tennessee last month? It was all over the intrawebplace, better than TV I tell ya.
So it goes like this......There was this guy, lets call him Ron, who kept posting these hero grip and grins of some of the most beautiful Trouts one could possibly dream up. Hell Orvis even briefly posted one, guy must be legit if it slipped past Monahan. I mean one after the other, everyday the "pro" would post a different fish of a lifetime on the ego blaster.
Something was not fishy about Ron.
Things just did not add up to equal this character being a true Jedi. At first you just noticed the same old background. It seemed every fish was caught from the same run with the same bush and rock in the back ground at the same time of day. My mind started painting a picture of dude who is always in the same hole, earlier, longer and louder than any of us can stand. One of those guys who make me treasure all the space I have here in the Rockies.
As Ron carried on, he became drunk with social media egoistic-itis and he became bold and careless. Ron began to post pictures with more elaborate descriptions of how he was actually catching these monsters. He flat out explained how he was fishing to spawners on redds in the middle of the night. But his pictures were always after sunrise.
When called out about this he explained, again with the brashness of a guy who invented fly fishing, that he was holding them in fish wells until he could get better shots at day break. Truth to that story ends up being a mud puddle with an old fly line stringer through the gills for several hours. That was proven by guys who really cared about the watershed ol Ron was raping after they sat in the bushes one night and watched Ron's ways. After the truth came out about snagging, mud puddles and stringers his "site" disappeared. His site that he was always mentioning so proudly but none of us could find, ends up being his lame ass facebook page, he did'nt even Go Daddy for gods sake. Goes to show you anyone can be anyone they want with this social media poop so we are forced to look deeper and be more skeptical than ever before.
The Pro was gone which kind of sucks because now no body knows what the butcher is up to. In my opinion he should have to register in each state like a sex offender. I want to know where this tool is at all times. Not because your good Ron, no it's because you stand for all that can go wrong with this sport when you fish for your ego instead of your soul. Cheater.
Things are not always as they seem and if they appear to good to be true they probably are.
Just after this picture was taken my man Scott Thompson swam to re-catch this beast with his bare hands. Absolutely sure that the client had no idea how large a miracle happened before our eyes.It was a guiding moment I will never forget , everything but his face was wet for the rest of the day.
There seems to be less and less grip and grins in my highlight reels nowadays. I'm proud to say my soul knows the wild fish and the magical places I guide are the true stars of my wonderful job. Not everyday is easy,or successful but I am thankful everyday for what I do, where I do it and especially the great guides I work around.
I have but one regret from a great year, it has weighed very heavy on me and this little blog. This spring I wrote a blog titled "Bought Fish" that wasn't public for very long. It was something I felt very strongly about, still do, but I was forced to take it down or loose my job. I have thought long and hard about the subject since (how could I help not to, these fish come to my net almost daily now). Sam and Kit will always be first so I had to do something I didnt feel comfortable with for my paycheck. Did I sell out? Should I have pressed my right for free speech? Could I have ended up further ahead in the industry as the guy who got fired for hating stocked fish? I still have a copy in the dark corners of this place waiting for the book deal. I even read it on occasion just to see if I might feel differently about things. I don't.