Waiting for drakes in painted-on waders

There's one thing that has always terrified me about guiding women, and that is wader rentals. I can't stock 80 sizes of waders and boots, so I work with an area fly shop. I get the client's measurements, pick waders up the day before, and hope like hell they fit. I had a half-dozen women rent waders last year and no issues regarding fit, so it was just a matter of time before I ran into problems.

June is king

The growing pile of paper plates and gas station food wrappers on my car's floor hint at my daily routine over the past couple weeks. Wake up at 6:30 a.m., 40-minute commute, 9-hour work day, 40-minute drive to go watch my son at either baseball, track, or golf, stay as long as I can, hit the river or lake, get home around midnight, put the boat away, shower, go to bed....

Borchers, hennies, mattress thrashers, and the odd mahogany

"You're such a bass fisherman," I shot at Matt after seeing his approach on a late afternoon riser. His silence hinted that the joke didn't register. Matt is one of the best bass flyfishers I know, and fishes for trout with a bit of a heavy hand.

Sucker spawn, teenage spawn, and first mouse attack of the year

My toughest client is my teenage son, Coleman—his friends call him Cole. Now, you might say taking a kid fishing doesn't count as guiding, but you couldn't be more wrong. Taking a kid fishing is the best practice a guide can get, especially when it's your teenager, because they know pretty much everything and don't need your help.

Swisher Sweets, venison tacos, and the savage traditions of Michigan's annual trout opener

With so many miles of special regs water open year-round, you'd think Michigan's trout opener would have become largely insignificant by 2015. Yet most anglers still consider the last Saturday a holiday—including myself. In fact, as I walked out of a party store with celebratory provisions on a Friday night, a local fly shop owner on his way in for some of the same greeted me with a, "Happy New Year!" Like singing Auld Lang Syne at midnight on January 1, northern Michigan trout fishermen practice various opening day traditions that border on religious rituals to celebrate a fresh crack at another trout season.

Wild Washington steelhead and searching for a consensus among anglers of all types

Why does the fishing gear I use define me? Why does the equipment I choose to pursue my steelhead fishing passion make or break how others perceive me? Why is there so much backbiting between salmonid anglers in different sets? These are three questions I've been asking myself lately. Especially after all the mudslinging and finger pointing regarding hatcheries in Washington State.

Guiding in northern Michigan starts with a great bumper sticker

This series begins, oddly enough, where the last series I wrote left off. "Lake Effect" chronicled a steeelhead trip where a friend and I hit tributaries flowing into all five Great Lakes inside a five-day window in early November 2013. I was so stressed to start that trip that it took 1,900 miles of gas station food, hangovers, and swinging flies to feel relaxed...

Clyde hits the Bighorn

“THIS IS A SWEET CAR,” said the friendly sheriff of Hardin, Montana (population 3,500-ish), who’d just pulled us over for a burnt-out headlight. After promising to replace the light (Fat chance!), he let us roll on with no questions asked. (Which was damn lucky on our part, because if we’d have had to find any sort of official papers in that glovebox…)

A #keepemslimy photo essay

Since Erin Block's piece a year ago in Trout Magazine, the flyfishing community’s conversation on the negative impact of grip-and-grin photos has grown louder. The Internet has been saturated with pictures of exhausted fish held high and dry for your viewing pleasure for too long. And the #keepemwet backlash continues. In Germany, catch-and-release is illegal for being inhumane. The debate we're having can lead toward a similar outcome in the U.S., unless we get our shit together.

Shallow Water Expeditions' film Out of Touch hits the F3T with overstuffed reds and a special alert

Out of Touch is one of several films premiering at this weekend’s F3T launch. It’s also one that doesn’t open with sweeping aerials of Caribbean flats or dip-in-lip anglers fondling 30-pound browns. Instead, the audience crowding Denver’s City Hall Amphitheater will be greeted by the weathered faces of saltwater guides and the words, “We are all guilty of it. We are constantly on our phones. The convenience and technology they provide has become an integral part of our daily lives.” And it’s true. From the email deluge to social media and non-stop texts—the phone has become like a fifth appendage for many anglers. Out of Touch highlights the virtues of unplugging in order to reconnect with what’s important.