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A Fish Story

Mark and Marco Mountain Creeks (90)

The yell from behind me was some combination of surprise, excitement, and “what the $&@# just happened?” I turned to see one of my two clients for the day, a twenty-something named Marko, hooked into a nice fish–the type of fish that we spent an extra 45 minutes in the car to find. The fly rod was doubled over, the reel was singing a frantic tune, and the look on his face reflected what I had heard in the yell.

Perhaps he shouldn’t have been surprised by the size of the fish thrashing at the other end of his line, seeing as how I had spent several parts of the morning’s drive telling of 16+ inch fish that we had seen on this small trickle of a mountain creek. But on the other hand, perhaps you can’t fully believe a fish story until the water explodes where your previously dead-drifting fly used to be, and you are suddenly attached to a ticked off rainbow whose ancestors most likely left this very river on a thousand mile journey into the ocean, returning wearing the badge of “steelhead”. Perhaps you can’t fully believe a fish story until you are smack dab in the middle of writing a similar one.

And so Marko was launched into a fish story of his own. But as the initial seconds of surprise and excitement still hung in the air like the mist formed when a warm Summer morning’s air meets the cold mountain water, suddenly the fish shouldered its way into the faster current and Marko’s expression changed. It changed because of a sobering realization forming in his brain: the rod that connected himself to this particular specimen had only moments before made a 10 inch fish feel like a real heavyweight…and this particular specimen could probably eat that 10 inch fish.

Mark and Marco Mountain Creeks (105)

In that moment, and in that realization, life was breathed into the fish story. Marko’s knees suddenly didn’t feel so steady, his palms began sweating, his heart began racing. The fight was on. The fish story was unfolding, and the main question left to be answered was would the story end with this likely descendent of an anadromous fish hardwired to fight for survival landed in a net, or slowly swimming away after breaking Marko’s line–and his heart.

I stopped and watched for a few seconds with a smile on my face. Then I grabbed my net and head down-river to get a front row seat for the fight. Win or lose, I knew my job as a guide was being accomplished in that moment: I had presented an opportunity for a story to unfold, and then given them the space to write it for themselves.

Mark and Marco Mountain Creeks (81)

What’s in YOUR bag?

On multiple occasions I’ve been browsing through the websites of various professional photographer’s and thought, “I wonder what gear they use?”  In my head, all of these photographers shoot with Nikon or Canon’s flagship camera bodies and lenses that are worth more than my car, or with a Hasselblad camera that would require a year and a half of my salary to purchase.

Then I stumbled upon ShotKit, a website that reveals the mystery of what’s in the camera bags of professional photographers from multiple genres.  Some of the bags listed line up exactly with my preconceived notions, while others are shockingly simple–and reasonably affordable.  In almost every instance, the works displayed by the photographer bring home the point that it isn’t always the gear that’s used that create breathtaking images–it’s the eye behind it.

Check it out.  You might be surprised at what you see, and you can even submit your “gear bag” if you feel the urge to stretch your legs amongst some of the big dogs.

http://shotkit.com/

“Enjoying” the Sun…..While Hoping For Clouds

Puget Sound with Casey 5-22-14 (28)

Forecast for Seattle on Thursday, May 22nd:  Sunny, no wind, with highs in the mid 70’s.

 

While 99.9999998% of the city was overjoyed at this prediction, I comprised the 0.0000002% of the population that saw that forecast and immediately though, “crap….I hope there’s some clouds.”

 

See, I was supposed to fish Puget Sound with a friend who was in town for an overnight layover on a flight to Alaska, and I knew that an intensely bright day with no wind to break up the surface of the water in the late Spring all combined to create tough fishing conditions.  And while the rest of the good people of Seattle spent the day trying to take advantage of every conceivable chance to get out in the sun, I spent the day looking to they sky for a solid bank of clouds that would move our chances of hooking some fish from “dern near impossible” to “maybe.”

 

Two small fish did come to hand over the course of 6 hours of fishing hard, but to call the action “few and far between” would be an understatement.

 

See, when the forecast for Seattle calls for “ridiculously clear” this late in May, the forecast for fishing on the Sound more often than not reads, “mostly casting practice…with chances of catching a tan.”

Hawaii, Part 3

The Big Island of Hawaii is a remarkable place.  Beaches with sands that vary from white, to black, to green sand sit a short drive from a 13,000 foot mountaintop.  Sea turtles, whales, and a variety of coral fish call the crystal clear waters home.  Lush, tropical rainforest are intermixed with barren deserts created by lava flows.  Water and fire simultaneously work to sculpt and define the geography, and humans cling to it all to enjoy the beauty and the fertility of the ground here.  The beauty lies in the diversity, and the diversity exists because of the unstable nature of the ground beneath your feet.

We were lucky enough to spend a week on the Big Island in February, and we quickly realized that a week is far too short.  We did a lot, saw a lot, and still left feeling like we had barely scratched the surface.

Part 1

Part 2

Hawaii, Part 2

The Big Island of Hawaii is a remarkable place.  Beaches with sands that vary from white, to black, to green sand sit a short drive from a 13,000 foot mountaintop.  Sea turtles, whales, and a variety of coral fish call the crystal clear waters home.  Lush, tropical rainforest are intermixed with barren deserts created by lava flows.  Water and fire simultaneously work to sculpt and define the geography, and humans cling to it all to enjoy the beauty and the fertility of the ground here.  The beauty lies in the diversity, and the diversity exists because of the unstable nature of the ground beneath your feet.

We were lucky enough to spend a week on the Big Island in February, and we quickly realized that a week is far too short.  We did a lot, saw a lot, and still left feeling like we had barely scratched the surface.

Part 1

Hawaii, Part 1

The Big Island of Hawaii is a remarkable place.  Beaches with sands that vary from white, to black, to green sand sit a short drive from a 13,000 foot mountaintop.  Sea turtles, whales, and a variety of coral fish call the crystal clear waters home.  Lush, tropical rainforest are intermixed with barren deserts created by lava flows.  Water and fire simultaneously work to sculpt and define the geography, and humans cling to it all to enjoy the beauty and the fertility of the ground here.  The beauty lies in the diversity, and the diversity exists because of the unstable nature of the ground beneath your feet.

We were lucky enough to spend a week on the Big Island in February, and we quickly realized that a week is far too short.  We did a lot, saw a lot, and still left feeling like we had barely scratched the surface.  Below is the first round of images from our trip.

Another Day in Paradise

This weekend I got the chance to fish Puget Sound with two guys from Philadelphia, Caleb and Brian, who were in Seattle for a 3 day convention.  The weather was everything you’d expect of a March day in the Northwest:  constant rain, fog, and just enough bite in the air to keep things interesting.  One thing that was missing from the day (surprisingly…..and thankfully), was the wind that can turn an unpleasant day into an unbearable one.  One thing that wasn’t missing from the day:  fish.  We saw fish jumping, and had swirls and takes on every beach we stopped at–a bit of a rarity for this time of year.

On the ferry ride back to Seattle we were some mixture of soaked, tired, and content from a successful day of chasing cutthroat on the Sound.  All in all, another day in paradise.