Shrimp and Crab Dinner

Merry Christmas to the 3 of you that read this! Hope everyone is looking back on a happy year and looking forward to the best one yet!

Prepping for some Redfish fun with the big jaws and 2/0 hooks, what a treat. There is something about putting together a big fly that reminds me of building models when I was a kid. That could have been the 2 quarts of super glue I used also.

"Tie em big" says my guide, "with a weed guard that will cut through concrete".
I always listen to my guide.

So off we go for some warmth between holidays. The whole clan could use some already, especially Kitty, Sam just wants to see the Ocean for the first time and hunt some gators. Hopefully I will be posting some pics of a big bull or two from location "M" after I serve them a nice Shrimp and Crab dinner, Minturn style.

See you in 2016,
Carry On

Boat Poker

Fly Fishermen love to get worked up about their space on the water. Wandering away from people on a wade trip is no big trick, put a boat in the game and your options are fewer. While crowds have never bothered me much I can completely understand why a peep who just plopped 5 c-notes down on an iconic Western Float Trip, might squirm at the sight of a dozen other boats at the put-in. But if the lad pulling on the sticks plays his cards right fishermen don't notice once the game begins.

 The Upper Colorado River below Gore Canyon can be a very busy place, on a good day. It's close proximity to Denver makes it probably the most used 30 miles of river in the state of Colorado for boats. Unlike wade fishing, your boat will definitely be competing for water through out the day, you can't just walk or drive away. A good oars man can however can row away and that's how we play Boat Poker.

A good Boat Poker Player always begins play at the fly shop, long before the clients skip happily into the summer camp office. Finding out where all the friendlies are going is the first card dealt. Know the players tendencies and quarks and you can have a great advantage once the game starts, remember you are playing against an oarsman and their fishermen and the power index is different every day. A great boat handler is only as good as the guys he's been dealt, he has to be able to play the cards best he can and not fold. Certain guides from your own barn can be scary to work around, maybe they wack em consistently, maybe they have terrible etiquette, maybe they are too loud or cut you off and hot hole you all day. Maybe you like playing with certain captains, maybe you go to a totally different casino. Lots to consider in the first card. Add the clients to the card game and it can strengthen or weaken your boats game and maybe completely fold up the hand you wanted to play originally.

Your next card comes sometime during an hour of small talk on the way to the game. If your players want some solitude you will find out now and you may have to explain the odds without spooking anyone.

This card is definitely face up. The oar stroker has to keep this wild card and use it to adapt his own personal playing style for the guy providing the bank role, his money his style. High roller wants peace and quiet, you are going to play your game with that goal in mind, even if you know the river is going to look like a Walmart parking lot at Christmas.

You get this one at the put in. So do the other 15 boats you are about to shove off with. This is the first good look at the other players at the table for the day and the number of players can sometimes freak a fly fisherman out. This is the first time you use your very confident poker face. Show no emotion, don't let your team or the other players see you sweat right now. Confidently let them know that things don't look any different from any other summer day and you like your hand. Take sometime while rigging and prepping to read the "tells" that are all around you at the beginning of your game.

"Where are the other boats from?"
"Have you been at the table with them before?"
"Do they play fast or slow?"

The best ramp"tell" is always the boat. Never fear an extremely shiny vessel. That boat is either really new or only gets used 3 times a year; meaning they are not going to get  close to hazards, shallows or park on a crazy spot. Good card, keep it. Nice boat usually means it's not a guide boat or it's a guide who only works once in awhile. All things that make a hand stronger if you know how to play for space. Dirty boats I worry about.

"Is it a hard boat or a raft?"

Rafts are like Aces, high or low you like em. Typically the raft is going to fit places a hard boat won't so chances are that boat should disappear at the first side channel to play in the back room games reserved for little boats.

Use your eyes at the ramp. Be on the sly with some quality glasses and a hat as the parking lot is a great place to get a sneak peak how everyone is going to fish at least to start. You can tell a dry fly rod, a streamer rig or a nymph stick from a hundred yards away. You can tell if the dry is big or small. You can tell if they are using droppers and how far they are dropping them. You can see how deep they are fishing and even how heavy by just watching rods come out of the truck. If you are fishing dries you better realize you don't want to follow two boats of guys throwing meat and how to recognize that quickly.

Use your ears while the boat is still on the trailer. Some oars men are simply too loud and just love to hear themselves babble all day. Even some of their fisherman just can't help but show you their cards, you just have to pay some attention into the pot. Take note of loud boats in the parking lot, odds are it's going to be loud on the river too and that can definitely crush a solitude card

You get this one in the first mile or so of your float. Just because you leave the ramp around 15 boats does not mean you have to be around all of them for the day. Some guys are slow, some guys boogie. Some guys play the same game everyday, they are going the same speed, starting at the same time of day and stopping in all the same holes, everyday. Painful but real easy to play against. Who is left around you after the first mile or so is generally who you will be playing against for the duration, knowing them and their tendencies should help you decide how you show your cards

This is one is face down and requires your best poker face as this is the place in the game where most everyone loose all their chips. The most obvious "tell" once you are floating is where you and every other boat stops. Where and when you stop depends greatly on who is around watching and this is where bluffing skills can be valuable. If it's only the morning armada of 53 rafting trips riding up your bumper, pull over and wade a spot with little worry of showing another player all of your cards. Your solitude seeking fisherman's blood pressure should drop as quickly as the rubber hatch floats out of sight. It is another story altogether if the only other boats around you are fishing and you stop. Do you really want to be landing two fish from your A hole while some hungry, second year float guide from the other end of the valley watches the whole thing?? Ask yourself a few quick questions before going all in by stomping that anchor peddle or hovering on a spot you care about.

"Am I surrounded by weekend warriors that I may never see again?"
This hand is easy, get aggressive and stop on your spots if they are open. Be super nice, chances are the other boat is already intimidated, doesn't like the crowd either or hates guides. These boats tend to go faster then everyone else so you won't sweat it long.

"Are these a bunch of guides around me who know where all the spots are any ways?"
In this instance you have to decide to either play fast and aggressive or slow play depending on who's in the small blind. If you race to a hole you could be showing how important it is to your game, if you slow play it could be taken. Some of the best bluffs I have ever happened across involved  a dude  trying to not look so interested. I once passed the same boat, parked in the same place three days in a row and each time they were sitting and not fishing. A few days later I stopped and it has become one of the most cherished of all my A holes. Bad bluffer.

"If someone else has been in the cookie jar already, do you stop?"
This one kind of depends on how long they have been there and how hard they may have fished it. If you know the talent level in the boat leaving the spot is novice and you have some sticks it can be a nice boost to your stack of chips if you can sweep up after people successfully.

Seniority is another card to be considered when choosing to stop or not on your #1 spot. Every single secret spot was someone else's secret spot before it was that guys uncle's secret spot. I understand how I arrived here at mediocrity and it was because of  help, either willingly given or artfully stolen from friendly senior guides and other exceptionally fishy people. At one point, as I was floating helplessly around them, they decided to be generous and stop on a spot they really loved, in plain site. Thank you. When I know certain guys around me have been generous in the past or have been doing this twice as long as I have, I try and not even be in his sight. He deserves his place at the table.
Playing in traffic with respect consistently can help other players start to trust you and the way you play your cards. You are now at a high stakes table and you must act accordingly from here out to ever win another hand. Lots of great guides have trusted me with valuable junk over the years. While I might not be invited over for dinner, I respect the fact they don't mind playing some boat poker with me on a daily basis.

In the end, the sticks riding around all day flinging flies should have no idea of all the games the boat jockey has been playing with them all day.

Lets play soon.

Carry On.


Sitting on my high horse the other day discussing fly fishing blogs and was blown away when web savvy, super hip, flat brim, beard dude confessed he had never read any of Kirk Deeters stuff. If you are living at the bottom of a dark pool as well, you need to check out Field and Streams FLY TALK blog. Kirk loves to stir up the bottom once in awhile and it's pure fun, I especially love to read the comments from dudes who take it to seriously, good reading, do yourself a favor.

Recently most of the thought provoking blog missiles have been pointed towards the Bobber (not me thank God, these guys actually have readers). Bobber free water started the wave of spirited debate over Grinch Deeters purposed regulation or ban on the use of Bobbers. LOVED IT! Especially the comments. While I don't agree with every bullet fired I was sort of deeply touched, even kind of troubled in a way, so I threw out all my Thingamabobbers. Seriously. Now changing the name of this blog seems at least honorable if not mandatory to stay current with trends being set by my peers.

The spirited and calculated banter back and forth between Deeter and Louis Cahill at Gink and Gasoline is some of the best blogging I have giggled through all year.

G&G Bashing Deeter

Deeter bashing Louis

Well done gentlemen. Instant classic read, now look for a bill for changing the name on all my domain junk, merchandise and the Swiss bank account.

There problem solved.

Floating Nymph version just in-case you can't quit cold turkey 

BTW, I did throw all my Thingamabobbers away. I replaced them all with the new Air Lock version.

Carry On

2015 Photo Dump- Flies and Fish

Continuing to dig through lucky shots for 2015. This time featuring the true stars of the show, Fish and the Flies we use to fool them. There is a ton of scrutiny out there at the moment regarding grip and grins and fish mortality. There is even some finger pointing at the guide community claiming our cameras are some sort of weapon of mass extinction all of a sudden. I can only speak for myself and the guides I work very closely with daily in saying all the fish I trip on are treated with a great deal of respect. They feed my family and I truly hope a strain  of these wonderful creatures survive for countless generations in these world class waters. Truth be told most fish people land are not picture takers and they are not even touched. Grip and grins are well thought out, talked about and done very quickly with wet hands over a good rubber net. A wet fish at water level is even better.

That's all I got on that, seems like a trendy perennial topic for people who never catch fish and just assume they must have been killed by some dude who caught too many.

Respect Eagle River Wild Trout

Yeah, Le Squirm makes the "best of" cut

Barn Hole Cuttbow

Winter Caddis Magic

Spring Sipper

Cha Ching

All Muscle Eagle River Rainbow

White Beads, not just a lake pattern anymore.
Get your self some Acne today, whiteheads are all the rage.

Brad Gamble and my Client Fish of the Year

I've always said "If I ever grow up and get a real job, what little vacation time I got I would use right here on THE Eagle River." Prettiest damn fish on the planet.

Carry On, 

West Slope Jig Rig

I've been around my share of comp flies in the past several years. To be honest with you I never found the need to REALLY look at them until a year or so ago. These guys catch a shit ton of fish but in most cases I looked at patterns that made me giggle a little, but facts are facts and they were always railing fish. So recipes aside I logically decided to put my bugs where these knuckleheads were putting them and it all starts with the hook. The jig hook itself makes gin clear sense to all of us dirty nymphers and especially so once the weeds start taking over the bottom of trout town. Sure Frenchies, Walts Worm, Valdi's Boo Boo and those Hot Spot La La La's work but my wheel was already round. So onto the old Jig Hook goes some of my proven poop and boom.....I'm hooked on the jig baby.

After jamming my nonsense on jig hooks I had to tweek the traditional rig and get them to where they do the most damage. My normal nymph rig, like most peoples, puts the attractor pattern and the weight at the top of the system with smaller flies  dropped below and of course Mr Bobber pulls the train.The New Zealand lads taught me it's called "Truck and Trailer". The jig will work there, as the first fly in the rig, just make sure there is a barb or a pinched one there if you tie droppers to the bend of the fly (I lost a half dozen bugs from the tippet sliding off barbless hooks before the light came on). An eye to eye connection works well also.

Truly getting Jiggy would mean I would eventually have to drop the goodness to the bottom of the system. Don't worry, the bobber remains, I can'y try out for Team USA, I don't own a blazer. Jig on the bottom means small flies above it on tags, which can complicate things for 74% of my clients, but I'm having fun with it.

Love to lead with little Stones and this small #12 Golden Stone has an even nastier bite with it's hook riding up. I jam 18-20 wraps of .030 Lead Free Wire on the shank and then flatten it with pliers so the gap isnt compromised. The wing case is coated with Fluorescing UV Clear Coat just cuz I'm tricky. 

Jig that Caddis. The Fall Caddis Color rocked it o the Upper Colorado and the Eagle August- September.

Originally used for the a late Summer PMD pattern but the touch of yellow
helps this little booger work all year

Flip that shit over.
Carry On

2015 Photo Dump- Ankle Biters

So I sat down to try and pile up the best images the ol Nikon captured this year and like every year, I realized I pushed the button a few times. Too much to choose from so it's categories this year starting with everyone's favorite, children, ankle biters, spawn, your freaking pride and joy.......OMG get a picture of my kid please!!

No fish were harmed in the process of collecting these memories and possibly creating a new steward of our dying sport, just saying.

Kid proved youngsters can do it from the boat......sweet glasses too.

White bead and a small clown.

These 2 little demons set the skittle record this season.

Great Father-Son double for the Knights. Not really an ankle biter anymore.

Spent a few lovely days with a couple of lads from Team New Zealand. They clobbered it.

One of my favorite families to fish with and one of my favorite guides to work with. This shot and coined phrase "hardest working guides on the planet" is one of the best moments I have managed to luck into.

Again, I'm pretty sure no body was hurt in the creation of this image.

Time flies by, it won't be long before he is rowing for reel....

I'll be honest, I don't always enjoy guiding youngsters (say under 8) but when the stars align and the kid has some patience, focus and likes to learn they become the most memorable of days. Thanks to everybody who has let me baby sit your kidos with a fly rod, now keep them the hell out of my boat until they are old enough to pay for your trip.

Carry On  

Gen 2

Lost an old friend a few weeks ago, one that has been by my side for literally thousands of fish.
I had a chance to look back and see just how many pictures that net was photo bombing, I remember every moment. Here's a few high lights from over the last 8 years or so with the money stick..

Spock and Fiver, upper Roaring Fork

Sam's first look at a trout,
I miss the Valley Pond.

Pipeline with Brooks and Eddie the day
Sam netted 30 and got his first tip

I talked so much with that net in hand
it understood bad north eastern english

Doubled as a wading staf for
lots of important crossings

One of THE best days I ever spent with that
net. 9 doubles with John Muir and Lew

Fishbus weekend with the big Zim

Multiple pre season runs with

Doc and the only place we were allowed to
float with Sam back when

THE G and a blonde on
the Fork one fine fall day

Got to be 70 pounds ago. That net many have landed 70 pounds
of fish for mr Thompson over the years.I remember this day, 
with Scott and his dog George, I believe there was a
razorback chub involved.

So let me introduce Generation 2...

So it begins fresh. Hopefully that old wand is in a good place, holding a shit ton of it's used to.

Carry On

The Long and the Short of it

NEW TOYS for Fall have arrived.

You may not know it by the slow leak in my boat, but I am always trying to keep things fresh and new. Understand clearly that I am not a product pitcher. I like Pepsi but will drink a Coke. Could care less about the car your driving, Ford-Chevy, V6-V8 blah, blah, blah. Tippet, fly line, leaders just need to be affordable, I could care less what name is on them. I also pledge allegiance to no one rod manufacturer but trust me I know what I like and lately I like em long.

Just injected my new Sage One 10' 5wt and a Reddington Hydrogen 10' 4wt into the program and wow what a difference a foot makes.

"Teaching Euro nymphing now too?"
Nope, just a bigger lever

One of the biggest hurdles for most guides who teach is getting the rod tip up in critical situations like say mending, roll casting or most importantly the hook set. It is a daily struggle that the rod manufactures have tried for a few decades to solve with lighter rods. Don't matter, they are still to heavy for most humans to lift so I just bought a foot.

The One is going to cost you, but during the brief time we have spent together I can say this is the finest stick I have held in a long long time. I own a few 9' 5 wt Ones also but they just became dry fly rods, The 10' is definitely heavier in hand but so are most of the rigs it's shoving around, big deal, man up and be an athlete.

The Hydrogen is lighter in hand and on the wallet. This is a great rod for the price point and will let people dabble without going broke. The 4wt has a much slower action than the One but I really have grown to like that in a nymph stick. The skeleton reel seat is kind of a cool feature if you are into bling and I like the mat finish a lot.

the boy's eyes were cross eyed after I made him pose for this picture

I have also been working on the short game. I broke down and bought my first pair of cheaters after 3 years of being blind on the close side. I gave in after spending an evening with Ed Nicholson, the founder of  Project Healing Waters, who I guess got sick of watching me fumble.

Very high honor floating around with this great man. Humbled

"Give in already and join the club" says Ed as he hands me a pair of cheaters just before dark.

I'm in. Best investment I have made in years.

Carry On.