Bought Fish

So I scribbled this down a long time back and was threatened with being fired if I didn't take it down, I was a puss and gave in. The guilty parties explained to me that today's client wants the "Boxwood" experience. THE Eagle river does not need to be stocked. No healthy wild trout stream should be stocked so some rich peep can pay extra to hold a giant fish that he or she or the guide for that matter is not talented enough to catch in the wild. I am sick and this is criminal and Oh Yeah I already got fired.

If every 12" wild trout in the river was rising to dries, would you nymph for stockers still??

Lets call this the Rocky Mountain version of STOCKERS VS WILD FISH, not nearly as serious as the the Pacific Northwest Steelhead version. None of this bullshit should be confused with any controversy over Wild vs Native either, that's another soap opera all together. And I know this subject has been done, it's just that I never had to deal with it consistently here on THE Eagle River until last August, when into the mix of my favorite fish on the planet a mysterious truck dumped a bunch of pen raised freaks that everyone wants a picture of.

If they stocked Permit would you chase them instead of their pure bred, hard as hell to catch step brother?

NOT A STOCKER, same stretch of river though

Last week I ran some photos trying to highlight  the gorgeousness that is wild trout. The color difference between a stocker and a stream born fish are night and day, but I thought it fair to give Mr. and Ms. Pellet Belly from down on Concrete Chase Way their day in the sun. These pictures had to surface sometime or another, the guilt has eaten away at my soul anyways. I need to come clean I guess and admit to my transgressions and let the dirty little secret out, I sometimes fish for stockers and take lots of pictures.

Does it crush my already shaky credibility with some of you? Make me look like some silly rookie posting pictures of giant fish thinking it's the ticket to being famous in next years brochure?


Pictures of stockers combined with the social media disease can destroy the reputation of a wild trout stream. It all starts innocently; Some amateur fly fisherman looking forward to his fur collar fluffing in Vail sees some fish porn and wants to be in a pic with that giant fish he saw on the web. Every wild fish that used to be held in the highest honor for their beauty and difficulty all become 2nd class chump change while people pay extra for a dance with a fish that should not even be there.That young lady pictured above will be let down by every other trout she ever holds. That sucks and yes I am partly to blame by using very limited skills, basic knowledge and flies my 6 year old tied to make that GMO Fish partly famous.My bad, it is my job after all.

STOCKER but a great family picture

We call them working fish in the industry. We bought 'em so we could sell them to you. Guides and outfitters make a living finding fish, who could blame a guy for doing things the easy way until the new implants die, it's in our nature. I get paid for putting people on fish, fish they can catch easily is good and  if they are giants that is all the better, but it always takes me back to a line I heard from Hate years ago "Nothing easy is good". A large portion of my clients have no idea ol' Fat Albert was a bought fish anyways, they just think they landed the biggest Rainbow of their lives. And lets face facts here, a 20" stocker is soooo much easier to catch than a 20" wild fish, any day, any place, anytime, period. None the less a 20" fish is a picture almost everyone wants, I guess it's OK if that hog is a big farm bred, scuffed fin, pellet feeder. I have 100's of them on this machine, I just prefer everyone didn't know.

STOCKER, excellent handling for the camera though

IF YOU MUST shoot great exposures of store bought fish, start with good planning and a creative grip to hide the more obvious scrapes and dents. Hold that beat up propeller of a tail with the classic over hand grip, not because it might use its great strength and mass to over power you; No, it looks like your boy ran it's tail over with a lawn mower. Take care to point major scars and maybe that missing eye away from the camera. Try adding a distraction or two in the back ground like epic scenery or a photo bomb to draw attention away from common flaws like the anal pucker all stockers seem to come equipped with.

STOCKER and one of my favorite clients

I know they make for fantastic pictures and in most cases it is the biggest fish that will ever hang on a persons office wall, but do they belong in the marketing department of your fly shop if it is going to ruin an incredible fisheries reputation?
Just my opinion, but posting obvious stocker pics on your social media  (ego blaster) shows you as a bit desperate.
To anyone who knows better it can show your short cuts or even make you seem lazy. I will not, nor can I stop taking people's pictures with our version of migrant workers, but I can choose to be careful where I make them accessible.  Love the small things in life and maybe those special "little" wild trout that used to be held in such high regard for their challenging ways will get a few more chances to be on someone's wall.


Want more information?      Like scientific junk you can't get here?    Read this and learn stuff          Montana does not stock any more, find out why 


  1. What business fired you for speaking your mind?

  2. I was not fired for speaking my mind. I wrote this a few years back and it was at that point that my employer took offense to my expressed opinion on this shitty blog that 3 people read. I was pressured to take it down and did. Now it has happened again but I no longer work for them. I have been asked several times over the last few years to re post this, now was the time. Thanks for reading

  3. Take them home. They make great fertilizer for the garden.

  4. I feel exactly the same way...Let Boxwood be Boxwood...The Eagle is a fine fishery without all the grip and grins! Thanks for your honesty!

  5. Since moving to Georgia (stocked fish) from Michigan (wild fish) I've had to creatively photograph some fish. That rod and reel is in the pic to hide those rubbed off fins. Nice piece, and I agree with the gist.