2 Guys, 1 Trout

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I always enjoy fly-fishing more when it’s a team sport.

I think that’s why I enjoy saltwater fly fishing so much. The interaction between guide and angler creates something special. A shared accomplishment and a shared reward. Not unlike some of my best days of trout fishing, when a buddy and I might have figured out a tough fish and worked together to catch him.

When fishing small water, it’s customary for me and my friends to take turns fishing. It’s more effective than having a foot race to the honey hole and a lot more fun. Some days it’s more about the conversation than the fish, and thats fine. Fishing is almost like therapy and fishing friends are often therapist or priests hearing confession.

Some days, and for some fish, it’s about combining your wits to out fox an educated fish. Those are the fish I enjoy the most, whether the rod is in my hands or my buddy’s. I think it ties into the reason I enjoy fishing in the first place. The connection it gives me to my human nature. Practicing the skills that put food on the table for millennia and made our species what it is. I firmly believe that team work is chief among those skills.

Justin and I did this not too long ago. I was the one taking up position in the bushes where I could spy on our target, a big educated brown in shallow water. Justin would have to make a long, pin-point cast upstream to avoid spooking the fish. The fish was shifting position constantly and from his position Justin couldn’t see him. It was up to me to guide his cast.

It was a tough setup. Even putting the fly near the fish without landing it in a tree was a challenge. Several times I had Justin

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Choosing a Fly Rod is Like Choosing a Guitar

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“WHO ARE THOSE $850 FLY RODS FOR? IF THE EXPERTS DON’T NEED THEM AND THE BEGINNERS CAN’T APPRECIATE THEM, WHO NEEDS THEM?”

If you follow G&G on Facebook then you probably know about my love of old school blues. If you don’t follow us on Facebook, you should, you’re missing half the fun.

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I went out the other night to see my friend Gabriel Szucs, AKA “Little G Weevil,” play some blues at a local bar. G is a singularity. Hungarian born, he moved to the states, to the south specifically, to immerse himself in the roots of the blues. After years on Beale St. in Memphis, he fell in love and married a gal from Atlanta and moved there for her. That’s the only way we would ever have a local blues player of his talent.

I discovered G in a hole in the wall BBQ joint called Hottie Hawgs. It’s a dive but there was briefly an awesome music scene there. Trust me when I tell you that this guy is a world class talent. Unfortunately, no one has told the Hungarians that Americans haven’t given a shit about the blues for forty years so you’ve likely never heard of him.

Honestly, you haven’t heard G until you’ve heard him live. It’s his jaw dropping improvisation and the way he responds to the crowd that blows you away. OK, I’m getting to the fishing. I expected to see G playing his flame top Fibenare or maybe his 1940 Kay, both remarkable guitars, but instead, there he sat with a cheap Epiphone acoustic that he payed $150 for in a Mississippi pawn shop.

He slapped a vintage pickup on it and off he went. It sounded amazing! I could not believe he was playing those licks on an acoustic. Epiphones, Gibson’s budget priced imports, are OK guitars but most good players couldn’t play like that on a Taylor or Martin.

“Yeah, it’s hard to play but I don’t care,” G told me. “I like the way it sounds, it’s different.”

You sure couldn’t tell that it was hard to play and that got me thinking about fly rods. You can spend anywhere from $200 to $5000 on a fly rod. You can pay more if you want a really special collectors item but what do you need?

It’s a complicated question. I have some inexpensive rods that I love. I have some really expensive ones I love too. What’s the difference? Other than

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Not Just Anybody’s Saint Vrain

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By Louis Cahill

“IF YOU CLIMB INTO THE CAB OF THAT PICKUP WITH JOHN YOU’LL FIND THAT WHERE YOU WIND UP CAN, ONLY IN THE MOST EXISTENTIAL TERMS, BE CALLED A FISHING TRIP.”

It’s about seven-thirty on a Saturday morning. It’s mid-September and the chilly Colorado air has coaxed a fair number of lookie-lous, headed up from Denver and Boulder to catch some fall color, into the Stone Cup Cafe on highway thirty-six in Lyons for a cup of hot coffee. A dozen or so of these plains dwellers are queued up like good little office workers waiting their turns when a lanky man in his seventies comes through the door. He is not, at once, remarkable. He’s wearing blue jeans, faded with a hole or two, cinched up with a belt to fit his slim frame. A fleece vest and sun-bleached hat frame an angular face that’s lined like a gazetteer. There is a little white feather tucked into his hat band, like Peter Pan. His white beard seems to pretty much have the run of his face. It’s had just enough grooming to suggest that there’s a woman involved somehow, but she’s learned to pick her battles. His bright blue eyes seem too young for the rest of him. He doesn’t dally. He has the stride of an experienced hiker who sets a pace and covers his allotted miles without complaint, his eye fixed on a distant peak. That peak, at this moment, being the coffee pot.

This fellow may not have raised much attention from the morning crowd when he came through the door, but that quickly changes as he walks promptly past the line, around behind the counter and to the coffee machine where, seemingly unnoticed by the staff, he sets about pouring two cups of coffee. He tucks a couple of bucks in a basket that hangs on the wall by the coffee pot, picks up his two cups and with the same determined stride walks back by the line of dumbstruck tourists. He doesn’t acknowledge them, their galled stares or open mouths. He is completely stoic until he is past the line and makes it to the door. He reaches out his hand and offers me a cup and an impish smile creeps across his face as he says, “I love doing that.” And in that instant, there he is, the man I have come to know through his words long before I laid eyes on him. This is John Gierach.

I met John a year earlier at a fly fishing trade show in Denver. I was at the Whiting Farms booth pouring through a selection of high quality rooster capes when he took up a place next to me and within a few moments began telling me how to kill a chicken with a stick. This would, no doubt, have seemed odd to me had I not known exactly who I was talking to. How could I not recognize this man? I’ve read more of his books than any three authors combined. Of course I knew him and I knew that he had tried his hand at raising chickens at the little house across the street from the Saint Vrain River and that it had been a total disaster and that he had to move when the well became contaminated from the gas station next door and a hundred other personal details that had forced their way into his stories. Had I known all there was to know about raising chickens and been the fellow who had first thought of killing one with a stick and gone on to raise that killing to an art form and had the very act of killing a chicken named after me, I would have still hung on every word. We chatted for a bit and exchanged cards and I expected that to be the end of it.

I discovered John’s writing at the point of one of those great cosmic detours that life takes. I had lost my father to cancer and both of my grandfathers shortly after. I still had a lot to learn from those men when their voices fell silent. I had set a lot of goals as a young man that, once attained, had not provided me with much in the way of happiness. My career as an advertising photographer seemed to be feeding on my sanity. The harder I worked and the more money I made the unhappier I became. My anger rose like a fire alarm ringing in my head and after giving some serious thought to shooting one of my clients, and I don’t mean with a camera, I decided to take some time off to

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Fly Fishing: The Popper-Dropper Rig

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Like a lot of kids, I spent most of my adolescent summers chasing bass and bream on the local creeks and ponds in my area.

Most days, a single rubber-legged popper tied to the end of my leader, was all that I needed to catch fat bream and the occasional lunker bass. On days when the bite slowed, I’d put down my fly rod and head to the neighborhood pool with my best friend Ryan Evans. It didn’t take long for us to get labeled the Huckleberry Finn boys of the neighborhood. We got plenty of strange looks walking through those pool gates, fishing rods in hand, and both wearing cargo shorts with boxers hanging out the tops. Those dirty looks were well worth it, and we learned to shrug them off, because that pool was the perfect place for us to cool down in between our fishing adventures, and it also happened to be one of the best places for us to keep track of the older females. We learned reflective polarized sunglasses weren’t just good for fishing, they also were great for inconspicuously eyeing the older females, walking by in those skimpy bikinis. It was a time in my life when I was relatively stress free, and I had not yet taken on very many responsibilities. Those were the days.

It wasn’t until I started dabbling in trout fishing that I found a way to improve my warm water popper fishing.

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Fly Fishing Tip: Use Tippet Rings to Extend the Life of Expensive Leaders

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TIPPET RINGS ARE GREAT FOR EXTENDING THE LIFE OF LEADERS

Leaders have got quite expensive over the past couple decades. Recently, I saw a pack of two fluorocarbon leaders retail for $20.00 in a fly shop. That’s a pretty good hit to the wallet if you get out on the water to fly fish regularly. One way you can prolong the life of your leaders is to use tippet rings. The tippet ring takes the leader out of the equation by providing the angler a reusable anchor point to tie on tippet and attach flies. Climax manufactures and sells tippet rings, and although I don’t like using them for my dry fly fishing because they can create micro-drag, they work very well for nymph fishing and streamer fishing situations.

TIPPET RING RIGGING INSTRUCTIONS

What I like to do is take a 7 1/2′ tapered 2X or 3X leader and tie the end directly to the loop ring. I then tie 24-36″ of 4X-6x tippet to the other side of the loop rig and tie on my tandem nymph rig. This keeps me from having to cut into my leader when I’m changing out flies or if I break off on a snag fishing. The tippet rings are also very nice for anglers that struggle with their eye sight up close, and makes it very easy for them to rig up quickly. This isn’t for everyone but for an initial $5 investment, it’s a cool piece of fly fishing gear that can save you money in the long run and should be considered. For those of you that aren’t big fans of using tippet rings, furled leaders provide the same functional benefits. If you’d like to purchase some of these, we recommend going with our friends at cutthroatfurledleaders.com

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The V Grip

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Watch The Video!

HOPEFULLY YOU’VE GOTTEN COMFORTABLE WITH ADDING THE WRIST SNAP TO YOUR CAST. TODAY BRUCE IS GOING TO GET INTO SOME SERIOUS ADVANCED TECHNIQUE.

Your going to see him use the “V Grip”. This is going to feel seriously odd at first. In fact I think this is harder to get the hang of if you have been casting for a long time. Don’t get discouraged, the results are amazing. Don’t expect to get it over night but with a lot of practice you can do this smoothly and effectively and you’ll be glad you spent all that time out casting on the lawn. Bruce will be back on Friday with the final video in the series.

Check out the video!

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Summer’s Over

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HERE’S ONE IMAGE AND AND A BRIEF STORY FROM AN ESSAY I DID FOR HATCH MAGAZINE.
TO SEE THE REST OF THE IMAGES VISIT HATCH. YOU’LL BE GLAD YOU DID.

In August of 2010, at he end of a hectic and exhausting summer, I found myself in western Alaska for a week at the Alaska West Lodge. Frankly I was a little burned out. The weather, which can be a formidable challenge in Alaska, complicated my travel arrangements. From Anchorage I was still two bush planes a bus and a boat ride from the camp which rest on an island in the Kanektok river. I fully expected to be spent by the time I got there. I found quite the opposite. By the time I reached the camp I was recharged with excitement by the place. Western Alaska is quietly beautiful. The travel it’s self had been visceral. I recall flying low over deserted wetlands, looking down and identifying parts of an airplane on the ground below. I remember thinking, “yes, you are in the bush now”.

While the other guests were unpacking, having a snack or smoking a cigar, I was getting into my waders and lining up my rod. I just couldn’t wait to see what this place had in store for me. I waded into the Kanektok and within a few cast my indicator disappeared and I was tight to a big rainbow. There I was in heavy water with no net playing a big fish. Clearly, I had not thought this through. About that time a boat rounded the bend.

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Take The Right Fish

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AS I’VE SAID PLENTY OF TIMES I’M A DEDICATED CATCH AND RELEASE ANGLER. THAT SAID, I RECOGNIZE THAT IT’S A PERSONAL CHOICE THAT I HAVE COME TO IN MY OWN TIME.

There are a lot of good ethical anglers out there who keep a fish once in a while and although it’s not for me, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with it. The reason I say necessarily is this: fish are not all created equal and while killing a fish can be ok, killing the wrong fish is a tragedy.

Where trout are concerned, in most places a great many of the fish we catch are hatchery raised stockers. There are a couple of things about these fish that are worth mentioning. The breeding of fish for stocking is a pragmatic endeavor. It is done with a clear cut goal in mind. To raise fish in the fastest, cheapest, easiest way possible and get them in the river. There is very little, if any, thought given to the quality of these fish.

Well, what does that mean, quality? Several things. For one, the fish are raised on a diet of high protean fish food that promotes fast growth. This yields fish that have little of the natural color found in wild fish. There are other factors that contribute to this but food plays a role. It also yields fish with unnatural proportions. Small mouths and fins but big bellies. A trout that’s shaped like a football is a poor example of it’s kind.

Hatchery fish are generally raised in concrete runs. They rub against the rough concrete and wear down their fins to nubs. Not very attractive. The runs also contribute to the lack of color. Trout, like most fish, have natural camouflage. They take on the color of their surroundings. What color is concrete? Makes sense right?

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Is Pay-To-Play Fly Fishing Good For Anybody?

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By Louis Cahill

If you pay hundreds of dollars for the chance to catch a really big trout on someones private water, are you doing the right thing?

Pay-to-play fishing is a hot button issue. It came up in conversation the other day so I thought I’d put my two cents in. I don’t have any data to back this up, but my guess is that a pretty small percentage of anglers regularly pay to fish private water. I’d guess that a fare number of us do it a time or two and move on and a very small number do little else. On the other hand there are an equally small number who would never consider it.

What you figure out pretty quickly is, whenever pay-to-play comes up, there’s going to be an argument. The fur usually starts to fly when fish size becomes the topic. If you are boasting about catching a trophy size trout on your local pay-to-play water you’re very likely going to hear how, “That fish doesn’t count,” or how, “That’s bullshit.” 

It’s true that there is no comparing a hand fed pet to a wild fish of the same size. Perhaps there is no comparing the effort or skill that went into catching those fish, but there is certainly no comparing how unique, special or important those two fish are. Wild trophy size trout are a treasure and should be treated as such. All of that said, if you are boasting about the size of your fish to establish yourself as a superior angler, you’re probably a douche bag. If you’re trying to spoil someone else’s excitement by calling their fish bullshit, you’re just as bad. That’s my opinion.

Focusing on numbers or size takes the fun out of fishing for me. I don’t count fish and when I do measure a fish it’s about appreciating what a special fish it is and how fortunate I was to catch it. Not for one instant do I hold to the idea that it makes me special as an angler. I’ve been at this long enough to know that humility is waiting in the next run. I like to hear anglers talk about special fish and I like to talk about them too. I think that’s something we all share, I just think it sucks when it ends in an argument.

SO HERE ARE SOME FACTS ABOUT PAY-TO-PLAY FISHING.

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Keep your thirst quenched without the baggage

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It’s late spring and everyday we’re moving one step closer to summer.

Air temperatures are climbing into the 70s and 80s on most days and will soon be even higher. These conditions make it extremely important that anglers are staying properly hydrated while they’re on the water fly fishing. I really enjoy hiking into remote locations to fly fish for trout. The only problem with me doing this, is I’m constantly fighting to quench my thirst and stay hydrated. I used to utilize packs with internal bladders for storing my drinking liquids, but there were quite a few disadvantages that came along with using them. First, when filled to full capacity, they become quite heavy and take a tole on your body lugging them around all day. Secondly, if you’re using them during the warm seasons and you’re doing some aggressive hiking and fishing, eventually that cold liquid you filled the bladder with in the morning will eventually warm up and end up tasting like bath water. Thirdly, internal bladder systems require maintenance and cleaning to keep them from building up bacteria and mold. Five years ago, I decided to ditch the internal bladder systems in exchange for a light weight water filtration bottle, and I’ve never looked back. Doing so, I eliminated the three negatives I mentioned above with using internal water bladders, and I no longer have to ration my water intake during the day. This product will keep you fresh during your time on the water and you’ll have far less

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