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.

Sincerely,
THE Eagle River






Lincoln Westby's Water


"Permit Fishing is a challenge" is the greatest understatement in fly fishing.

These fish are the masters of their universe and have a Doctorate in not being caught. They not only have giant eyes that can see you pee yourself at sixty feet, but it would seem the whole Ocean is on their side and warn them when the clumsy trout fishermen are there.  To catch one of these sneaky little leprechauns of the flats not only do the stars, moon, tide, food, wind, voodoo and your poo poo need to be right, but you also need serious professional local help.You need someone who knows the water as well as the Permit. You need a great guide.


The teacher, Lincoln Westby

There is a certain cosmic force there between you and those tails, it feels like your heartbeat is coming from your temples. Unless you have hunted Permit, it is hard to describe the spiritual tension and nervousness that comes over you when you know you are close. I would love to say everything gets quiet, slows down and my eyes become one with a skillful stroke of the rod but I don't, my knees shake, I go blind and it feels like I am being pounded with waves of gamma radiation as I turn green. Now imagine that is only half the pressure, because Permit master Lincoln Westby is poling the boat and looking right through your soul at his beloved Permit and the shot you are about to screw up. No big deal.

Lincoln Westby is a big deal, he is a great big deal. He is a one of a kind big deal like Gretzky, The Babe, Sweetness or Ali.


The student, Anthony Mazza

If you are a golfer imagine teeing it up in front of Jack at Augusta for a couple of rounds. You would try and not embarrass yourself, quietly and respectfully listen to all the knowledge being dropped and try to stay the hell out of the way and not be "that guy". That is a lot like being guided by Lincoln in his beloved Permit Alley. We were all over come by a strange sense of responsibility when we were with him; we just didn't want to let him down.

Over 2000 Permit have graced his presence. There is no good analogy for that.

After 40 years of guiding he has earned the right to guide and teach however he wants. He has earned his right to be salty and hard after years of teaching people who don't hear so well.

He is anything but that.

Lincoln is one of the kindest and most patient people you will ever meet. He has a way of handling the hand grenade in the baby carriage that Permit fishing can be, with a calm and gentle manner. His quiet laugh instantly brings things (you choking) into perspective. We never failed with Lincoln. When you listen to him and you are able to tune into the surreal vibe around his guiding style, you understand there really is no failure in Permit fishing but there are a ton of real feelings.


Fly tying night in Belize

Lincoln Westby has cared for Belize and it's incredible water his whole life. He is a great ambassador, conservationist and the epitome of a steward to mother nature. Most importantly to all Permit fishermen is he is a teacher, a great teacher who is still learning. He told G and I of the days he and Will Bauer would snorkel the flats instead of fishing them. He wanted more at a time when he was already the king of Permit Alley which says a lot about the type of person he is. At a time when he could have rested on his already strong rep he chose to get even better. He chose to become the Master. Will Bauer went on to catch over 160 Permit in the Alley.


Some passion hanging on the wall of the old Blue Horizon Lodge

Lincoln is known as the Legend or Master in the world of Fly Fishing and they are well deserved but I got the feeling those were probably just words for a humble man like Lincoln. My favorite of the many nicknames Belize has for him was Palinc. A local told us that it means father or dad and to many of the people of Belize he was looked at that way. You see a little bit of all the wonderful people of Belize in Lincoln and in the kind loving friendly yet low key spirit of the people, you see Lincoln.
From a fisherman's perspective, from a client's perspective there is so much knowledge being passed on you almost start to think of him in a fatherly light also. He deserves that.
How must it feel to come  to a point in a career of guiding where the client cares more about the guide's feelings than his own?????


The lucky One

I started day dreaming about this blog about 5-6 weeks ago when The G, Kitty and I began planning our trip to Belize. Truth be told I imagined I would be writing about my good friends Scott Thompson and Anthony Mazza and the exciting new adventure these Colorado guides have started with Blue Horizon Fly Fishing Belize. I quickly understood they had been whacked with a stick from the humble tree also after they explained the true focus of why they were there, away from children and loved ones and their American creature comforts. They are there to help Lincoln.



As my years fly by, who I fish with is becoming more important to me. Love these gents.

It takes a few (minutes, hours or days) to understand Lincoln. He is soft spoken and his mix of English and Kriol sometimes leaves you guessing. When you are in his boat you will hear his line, "It's not the best fisherman who catches the fish, it's the best listener" and it's true and yes I wish I could use that gem with my clients. But after spending time with him experiencing moments that will take a lifetime to fade I wonder if he is really talking about fishing or life.



Lincoln is where he wants to be nowadays, teaching, guiding and fishing his beloved flats. He is 73 years young and closer to his horizon than anybody dares to think about. I miss him already and can't wait to see him again. You owe it to yourself to experience this place, this fishing, these people and Lincoln Westby's water.




We (The G, Kitty and I) will be hosting 8 lucky anglers (non angling boys and girls are also welcome as there is lots of other stuff to do) April 18th- April 25th, 2017. Please get a hold of me for pricing and details, it's going to go quick. Can't wait!!!!

Carry On

Squirmy goes to Belize

As the resorts in the Mountains of central Colorado close for skiing, the work load slows down for a piece, opening the doors for some fun time and after a busy first quarter I sensed the team could use a much deserved break..........In Southern Belize.



Gonna force feed these to a baby Tarpon or two......in theory.

Two of my best buds, Scott Thompson and Anthony Mazza have left Minturn Anglers to pursue a dream in the salt water of Belize. These two fine gents are putting the work in for Blue Horizon Fly Fishing and I am taking the big show on the road next week for a visit with Kitty, The GJMac and yes, I am taking Le Squirm on a vacation. Hope he doesn't melt.


I'm paying Sam to make legs and claws next time.


The fishing with Blue Horizon includes all  equipment as well as flies but you know we couldn't just go empty handed. So after several weeks of sniffing super glue while banging out "BauerMcMerkenToadSliders" and "CrazyGotchaBunnyDecievers" it's time to pack it all up and go for it. 


As with any destination fishin mission,chances are not one of these bugs will be "proper" and we will just end up using the guide's flies but turning a $100 Hareline Order into $500 of worthless Shrimpsicals was super satisfying. 

Time for some Permit.
Wish us luck

Carry On

Fishing with a Yeti

In April 2000 an Eagle Colorado man discovered Bigfoot tracks along the Eagle River while fly fishing. To be honest I am surprised more sightings are not reported by fly fishermen, I always see Yetis and Leprichans on the river.
Read all about it

My friend Yeti Joe showed up in the Meadows the other day for some dry fly fishing (says he will never be caught dead with a bobber rig) and told me that Eagle story was just a big hoax Vail Resorts drummed up. Always trust a Yeti.


Since we were already pillaging his hole he decided to help me guide for a minute. 


Sightings 15 years ago were always during warmer months when Sqwatch was comfortable wet wading. Recently the Ol Fella has been seen during colder weather thanks to his new Simms waders and boots from Minturn Anglers.


Get your kids off the couch and maybe experience something REAL for a change.

Thanks Yeti, great seeing you again, till next time you hairy bastard.

Carry On



Don't let your Dog turn into a Dick


There has been a dangerous virus spreading through fly shops that can mess with the natural evolution of our shop staff or shop dogs as we refer to them. If you are aware of what to look for it's treatable. Let me help.

I have worked around a few Fly Shops, visited them in 18 states, a few in foreign countries and every single shop, big or small has one, a Shop Dog. They come in all shapes and sizes, some smart enough to sit, stay or fetch, some not. The Shop Dog is obedient, wide eyed, helpful and eager. They can be so much fun to play with! and you really don't have to pay them much when you bring them on raw like some shops love to do. They show up early and excited, ready for an incredible day on their dream job. They are into everything, happily doing the little things to please everyone and most importantly they don't make much noise. Heck in the beginning they even like the broom, the phone and putting away waders. They love everything, everybody, clients and guides alike. Like a good ol Labrador.

Somewhere along the way the little Shop Dog grows cocky and morphs into a Shop Monkey. This can happen in a week or a few years and thankfully not all dogs turn into Monkeys. This stage almost never involves a raise in pay but rather a self imposed promotion based on the fact it has become comfortable with the circus that is working in. The Shop Monkey performs cool tricks to disguise the fact it doesn't actually know anything but is hungry to be seen. The Monkey no longer wanders the shop helpfully, it just sits on the stool behind the counter trying to be funny. Shop owners and managers who know of the curse and recognize it's on set can use Monkeys for their gain. They can manipulate or convince a loyal Monkey to do just about anything, especially stupid things, for as many hours as they want. After all there are lots of Monkeys, when one breaks down there is always another one waiting and wanting to do tricks in a fly shop.



The final and often tragic stage in the Evolution of the Shop Dog is when it, he or she becomes a Shop Dick. The Shop Dick knows everything but stops doing tricks like the Monkey. The Shop Dick knows everything but stops doing the fun things it did as a Dog. It's mostly angry, tired, impatient and is the authority on everything fly fishing even though it hasn't fished in weeks (except behind the shop). The Shop Dick confidently holds court on topics it  knew nothing about before it heard a guide talk about it, problem being most guides who talk to much are the young ones who dont know shit. Bold predictions and even bolder promises based on hearsay and goggle poop begin to dominate it's program, further confusing clients and guides with in ear shot.  Making things up becomes the norm in an effort to build the ego thought necessary for the position when being kind, polite and humble would keep it in biscuits or bananas. The self absorbed Dick is no longer cuddly or cute but still posses the loyalty gene shop owners like, so handling things without a good shock collar should be left to the super experienced. The dick needs to dominate something during its daily grind and they often begin to bark way to much at bigger dogs, sometimes even alienating themselves from the ones that helped potty train it. 

I spent sometime with Jack Dennis way back when and we had a chance to talk about this subject. He explained they hired from within when staffing the shop. It was a form of reward for putting time in with the craft. It was a way to say thank you but still know what you were getting because the guide put in a few years actually doing what he would be selling in the shop or on the phone. Plus dude had a chance to already prove he wasn't a Shop Dick long before sitting on the stool.

Meet Zach, one of the funnest Shop Dogs ever. Never became a Shop Dick


This does not happen to all shop people, some are great at what they do and don't let their ego complicate their day. They are humble and are a huge part of the success generated by that fly shop. Hell some of them even manage to break away and become guides and those that do understand this blog topic more than most because they had to shake off the know it all funk to survive on the water.

Don't let your dog turn into a dick.

Carry On

Better Mouse Traps


It's no secret how important Pats Rubberlegs are to fisherman who have bigger insect life tumbling about their home waters. The movement the legs give this fly is deadly especially in high dirty water when naturals are often swept from safety and into feeding lanes. Most guys in my locker room have them in several sizes and colors, including the "Spicy Pickle" and "Cat Poop", both of which have proven themselves day after day. Still, if people never tinkered with perfection we might all be listening to cassette tapes still.

BAREBACK PAT (BBP)

Black on Brown #8
Brown Thinskin
Buggy Nymph Legs, Brown
The 20 wraps of .020 lead free weight is flattened with pliers to open the gap as far as possible and better mimic the flat body profile most large bugs have.

Mottled Yellow Fino Skin, Rust wire rib and Root beer Buggy Nymph Legs.
Dirty water Salmonfly filth.

#2 Spicy Cucumber. 

This crap has been falling out of my man purse ever since I invested in a few boxes of pig sticker hooks and decided I didnt actually like tying or fishing pigstickers. Any big hook with a sexy bend and large gap helps the old lady bend at the hips for a more seductive look (I think). This is the first season with Harelines Buggy Nymph Leg providing the movement and I have become a big fan of the colors, the smaller diameter and durability of the junk. New materials have become the best way to build better mouse traps and every year the industry provides us with new bells and whistles for our mad science experiments.  

 "Bareback Pats", Not in stores near you.



Still messing with Golden Stones on Jig hooks for spring. Now carrying them in #12 and this new #8 Wishing someone would make a long shank jig hook since not everyone ties a jig like a euro comp dude.

The main mission around here is to be a step ahead of mother nature on the vise. Trying to prepare for conditions like runoff ahead of time makes it easier to feel prepared when it arrives.

Carry On 

Daily Doubles

"For good days there are no words, for everything else there are stories"
Not so sure who said this but I am sure he was a fly fisherman.

Now a days there is digital photography


The ultimate thrill for any guide is having two rods bent at the same time. Getting the elusive picture without killing things takes it to a different level.

#1, Feb 19, 2016

#2, Feb 19, 2016

#3, Feb 19, 2016

I have been involved with multiple doubles on trips before but I have never successfully captured all of them on film. Getting them both in the bag is one thing, having everybody balance a pissed off fish while smiling is another. If the stars are going to align you want it to be with a father and his son. These guys crushed it, great job Sam and Ron.

Here's a few of my favorites from the past few years.


The Knights


Pearls, Private and Redford


Pretty stupid morning 


No fake grins here


These things don't just happen, an immense amount of proper cosmic energy is required to pull this kind of trickery off. Cameras, Sun angle, nets, moving water, expensive fly rods, scared fish and skiddish city folk with cold hands all have to be perfectly choreographed for the glory shot to be got.
Good Luck and may the force be with you.

Come double up while the weather is acting like April.

Carry On