I am retireing and thats OK

So a very successful 36th World Championship of Fly Fishing has come to an end here in the Eagle River Valley, it is time for me to retire from competitive fly fishing and my duties at the Sylvan Lake venue. The seriousness of watching knuckleheads compete for as many 20cm fish as humanly possible aside, it has been a fun ride with some fun people in a fun place.

The years leading up to the Championships were the best. Back when things were a little less serious. Back when I got the many kids that were involved all cracked up on skittles and lollies only to backfire on me by doubling the rowing they expected me to do. The adults were free to rummage through the boat for the bottle of whiskey they knew I had somewhere as I spied on other boats with binoculars for stripping cadence and fish counts. We had ace competitors fall out of the boat, more than once, right at shore in front of all their peers. That was more than OK. We had volunteers who had no idea how to even row a boat, let alone be able to figure out that god damn drogue thing and that was OK. More than one competitor had to row the boat back to the dock at the end of a session partly so they could count their score and partly out of polite chivalry for the poor old lady rowing the boat for the last 3 hours. Back in the day every van driver was an off duty raft guide just in case I was short a rower, which I almost always was. We had late night camp fire shenanigans that involved a lot of whiskey, great food, machetes, BB Guns, M 80's and discussions about hookers and Vegas that my son took home to my ex wife and that's just the stuff I remember.

For all the fun we had we realized just how serious some competitors took this shit, even before it was for the the World Championships and yes it was rather baffling to those of us that fly fish for different reasons. That's OK too.

I am proud to say this years Championship was rather drama free with the only act of terrorism coming from the chap who left a dead fish in boat 11 every morning as some sort of sign. Touche (that's French) my friend, well played, made me smile. Making it half way through the 36th World Fly Fishing championships and still not being assaulted or harassed by somebody who cared too much was a major accomplishment. Shit, last year during the Youth Worlds I had to deal with coaches, managers AND parents in my face every session. Some of them were there everyday working me over like their kid's life depended on it. So this year when the irate, crazy Irish woman who I later found out was actually Canadian finally searched out my bright orange jacket and official badge I thought I was prepared for it, I was sober after all. She was stout enough to take me, her hair was wild and black and styled after one of Marge Simpsons sisters. Her eyes burned right through me and the metal picnic table I was sitting on as she voiced her displeasure with some public dooda in a canoe for getting to close to some guy she must of had money on.

"They don't understand" was my the polite response.

"It's Public mum" was me justifying it.

"Who fucking cares......it makes it more interesting anyhow" was the truth that leaked from me after she had gone back to her Labatts Blue.

It made me realize I may never get this competitive fly fishing stuff and I am OK with that. No one has a gun to my head telling me I have to. America may never get it, and that's OK. It's OK to not be as passionate about something as your neighbor is and it's OK for your neighbor to be too passionate about things also. I realize it was the people who made this event fun and having as much fun as possible everyday is my score sheet.

My friend John Knight wandered into a fly shop where I was behind the counter 8 years ago and laid most of his plan for this international competitive fly fishing poop out for me.

"This sounds really stupid" I responded.

"OK, your my boy, I guess I'll help" said my friendly side

After all these years I still don't understand any of it and I realized that yet again in the final hours of my commitment to this stuff.

Sylvan Lake tried to say goodbye in the most beautiful of ways. She had all her fish rise and say good bye for the last hour of the last session and not one of those "pros" changed to a dry fly rig. There were 24 competitors on that lake and I am sure that the Tournament was over for at least 20 of them but not one chose to fish for their soul. I didn't understand, but that's OK.

Like every other guy who retires I am saying its the people I will miss the most, To the many competitors who I have become friends with over the years; To the many volunteers and officials who gave their time and service for something different and to the Knight family I say lets go fish for the love of it, without a scoring tube, every September until we can't.

THAT I understand.

Carry On

August Caddis Hatch

Lots of stuff going on as the season wraps up.

How was your August Caddis hatch?
Not sure about your watershed but around here the October Caddis shows up in August and this year the numbers were great. While most activity happens after dark there have been plenty of large Caddis fluttering about and when you flip a few rocks in the right place you can see why. The bottom of every rock is covered with communities of larva in their stone and snot houses. The larva is a creamy yellow- bright yellow and some as large as size 8. The pupa has an orange- reddish tan thorax and the adult can be a tan- burnt orange body about a size 10-12. The fish really key on the larva deep and this has been my anchor for the last few weeks when I had to take the dry fly off.

Size 8 Diiachi 1150

The first of many story boards for Bobbers Boat Works is done. Hopefully I will be sniffing paint fumes (all water base this time ) soon. More to come.

How about some blue digi camo on that old boat? 

Trout Bum of the week! Thanks Phil Monahan, thanks Orvis.
Now call and book your trip!!
Check it out, Little love from Orvis

Carry On

Don't be such a pluck up

My boat is not a place to turn people into world class casters, there just isnt enough time in a day. Frankly some of you "expert" anglers have a ton of bad habits but you get it done so I am not about to poke around your process and potentially have you slide back wards. You may need a chiropractor or a fancy wrist brace when you are done but I will be on to the next Lefty wanna be.
One of the most common casting styles I have seen over the years is the "pluck".
The Pluck is a short over powered cast or hook set that originates with the rod tip pointing straight up in the air as if dude is high sticking. For the most part the plucker is an experienced fly angler who has lost the ability to manage slack line with his hands for some reason. I think it's called getting lazy. They understand that slack needs to be managed but have reverted to bad habits one of which is to hoist the rod up in the air to take slack off the water. Most of us who watch the train wreck daily would love for the rod to ride in the ready position which is very low to the water as the tip follows your offering. If the rod is in the ready position and ones hands have efficiently collected up any slack (instead of fighting each other) the rod is allowed to use its full power during a cast or a hook set. If the rod tip is 10 feet above the water the guy running the stick has to over accelerate the line in a short, abrupt motion which leads to not only over powered hook sets but piles of slack on the forward cast.

Numero uno dropper right now. Still doesn't help hook fish if you are a pluck up tho.

Drop your tip you dirty plucker and those casts will be better and more importantly you are probably going to hook and land a few more trout.

Carry On you filthy plucks.

Guiding Scared

Starting up my own thing as a freelance fly fishing guide working for multiple outfitters is a new and understandably scary feeling but I haven't guided with fear in quite sometime.

So I show up to the boat ramp on river 1A recently and immediately swallow my chew once I realize what shit storm I am about to float around in. It has been a while since I felt this way. It has been a while since I felt a little anxious on a trip on my favorite river on the planet during my favorite time of year. My mouth was dry and the taste of fear was on the back of my tongue. It tasted good.

Getting out of the truck to see 3 legends of the guide game about to put on the same stretch of river with me, all with single, super experienced ninja clients didnt exactly make me feel confident even though I had a stick for the day too.  So here I am number 4 out of 4 boats in seniority and about to be last in line sweeping up scraps from some very big dogs in the guide world, guides who have taught me most of what I know about this game, Bill Perry, Brody Henderson and Kevin Wildgen. I felt like a rookie again and I knew I needed to be better than ever. I was guiding scared, not scared of guiding and at this point in my game that feels great. Long story short my stick ended up being the whole tree and we clobbered it. I know the three boats in front of me did also because the 8 boats behind us later that day reported they had a miserable day following us.

So one month into my new venture I find myself humbled by what mad experience this valley has as far as guides and outfitters are concerned. I have gone from the big dog in the yard to a puppy waiting its turn at the bowl and it feels wonderful. I have been excited and almost relieved by the level of experience I am now surrounded by. Having the owner of a fly shop behind the counter at 5:30 in the morning answering questions with mad experience not just trying to sell, sell, sell about made my head pop off, then he went and did casting clinics........astonished. Having weekly conference calls with three lads with about 60 years of combined experience to discuss how everybody is doing and what we can do to get clients in the best situation to succeed has been refreshing also. Working with several shops can be complicated and being legal in all of these situations can be a trick and I know it, but every single one of them has been one step ahead of me making sure I am in a position to just guide, not only legally but comfortably. Thank you Pete Mott, John Packer and Thomas Schnieder to name a few.

Is your guide scared of guiding or guiding scared?
There is a huge difference.

In the some what wise words of Ryan Hemkins, "it's just fishing" and while some butterflies in the pit of your guides stomach is a good thing, full on shit your pants fear isnt helping anybody catch fish.

Carry On

Catch more fish using a Bobber

So........Things change.

 I am very excited to announce that I will be doing my own thing with a little co-op of very experienced guides at Trout Trickers; as well as working with my friends at Fly Fishing Outfitters again. I am working on relationships in Summit County, the Roaring Fork Valley and Wyoming also, hopefully making it easier for all of my fishing friends to customize their trips. For now I am bumping around the same incredible rivers that have put huge smiles on so many faces with the same passion for a sport that has given me so much over the years.

Looking forward to many days on the river with Chef Mazza. 

The opportunity to work with my old friend Pete Mott at Trout Trickers has been a dream for both of us for a long time. Once he added my good friend Anthony Mazza to the crew it was an easy decision and I look forward to growing my own little gig along side these guys now. I am also very excited to be part of the Orvis family again. I always enjoyed my time working with Orvis and all the great people that work for the company. John Packer and all the guides at Fly Fishing Outfitters remained friendly after I left back in 2009. I never lost sight of that and I appreciate John's willingness to work with me still. I need to be challenged and I look forward to having  guides with 20 plus years experience on the water with me, pushing me and my program to get even better.

                                              FLY SHOPS DON'T PUT YOU ON FISH  













Over the years I have managed to get real lucky with a few of you and I look forward to doing my job at the highest level possible, on the river, at the vise, with the camera and with my boat. Nothing's changed, it's still a proven fact you catch more fish using a Bobber. Just sayin.

We've already found a 3' Lizard together so there is no telling whats next.

Tons of more stuff to announce including our hosted trip to Belize in April 2017, The World Championship of Fly Fishing as well as some very exciting news to announce soon in the fly tying world! 

Carry On

Ready or Not

Flows are still high in the neighborhood but on the drop and clearing. 
Getting ready for fun time.

Jig that Flying Ant.
Lots of these giant buzzers in early summer. On windy days on the Colorado River they get blown into the drink and often lay in the film like a spinner.

Jig this stuff too

#20-#22 PMD nymph with a dash of Mike Mercer

#20-#22 PMD Softhackle with a dash of Bobber

Stillborn, cripple, spinner? 
Needs a tungsten bead

Don't forget Mr Caddis.

I'm Ready.

You ready?

Get ready, almost prime time.

Carry On

A letter from THE Eagle River

I get the craziest things in the mail.
Had to share....

Dear World,
My name is The Eagle River. In September of this year I will be one of the host rivers for the 36th World Championships of Fly Fishing and I was hoping to introduce myself  to all the teams before you arrive.

I am the pulse of an ancient valley and an important artery to the heart of the Southwestern United States, THE Colorado River. I represent strength and constant change for withstanding the test of time and all that mother nature could think to torture me with.  I am the pulse of life and necessary to all of mother earths many creatures; most recently you strange humans. Man and all it's selfish ambitions have frightened me since we were introduced' so understand my hesitation in welcoming so many of you "pros" near me. In the short time I have been charged with your care you have managed to almost kill me more than once, completely eradicate the native trout population, and divert and divide me to death.

Now you come to compete for medals of metal, dug from places like me that you ruined in the process. Even my cousins the stars are puzzled by your ironic foolishness.

Thankfully, I don't see all of you negatively and my Nature requires I  always go with the flow and let you "civilized" beings do what you may. Some humans have taken the time to heal me and many of them in this valley spend everyday caring for me, gaining my trust again. I truly try and bless those who love and care for me when they stride through me or ride my waves.

Most men who love me do not want you to come and take advantage of me. Truth be told; I don't want or need you here either, but I know you are going to do what you want and I am tolerant. So with apprehensive, yet open arms I am welcoming all of you to enjoy my fruits, but I must warn you all, there are rules to follow. Cosmic rules and Rules of Men.

Leave me better than you found me or I will steal more than your treasured little "flies". Try me.

Understand that I have no borders or boundaries, I am everywhere and I can communicate with all of my sister rivers and lakes across mother Earth. Disrespect me, my flora, my fauna, my people or my trout and I will curse you and your fishing success for eternity. Leave one piece of garbage, one cigarette butt or one little bit of your fluorocarbon/ tungsten/ UV sorcery and I will be in the back of your mind every time you lose a fish.

I expect that you all will honor your people and your nation by conducting yourselves in a dignified manor. Last year during the Youth World Championships a smaller representative thought maybe he would call a female VOLUNTEER a very nasty name in his native tongue. She understood. So did I.

Please don't mishandle my fish. They are more than a stat on the score sheet, they are my friends. They are alive and they are here to bring kind people joy. Trout don't breathe well in the air so please use those fancy nets for the good they were designed for, keeping fish not only alive but healthy enough to fight another day.    

My people have rules also. They have said you seek help with understanding my friends and I before you come. They say that you seek help from other anglers, guides and competitors from outside of my valley and not all of them have permission to show you my secrets. You can only pay someone to guide you that is permitted on the water you are fishing. Make sure you are legal, I see all.
Disobey the rules and you and that cheating pirate of a guide might find yourselves in actual legal trouble let alone suffering my eternal curse. I understand there are people within 2 hours of me who fish more like you do but the guides and outfitters that call me home know me better than they do. Look my people up, there are four incredibly knowledgeable and experienced guide services that have contact information on those fancy new age tablets you created.

Remember, "Discipline weighs ounces and regret weighs tons".

You will be held accountable whether you believe in the power and Karma of water or not. Hopefully you will look back on the time you spend with my friends and I fondly and with a clear conscience. I hope you leave here a better person for not only competing fairly, but for the overall experience that only the special places on Earth can provide. I hope you experience joy for the sport and the places that provide your trivial pursuits with the passion you had when you first found your love of fishing.

 Leave me and my friends better than you found us and you and your kin are welcome back for as long as I am healthy.

THE Eagle River