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Fishing with Chewy

My annual migrations from Montana to Baja started in the winter of 2009, when the mainstream media first began covering news about the dangers associated with Mexico travel. Friends and family thought I was nuts, but as long as you weren't searching for blow in Tijuana at 2 a.m., Baja was still safer than many American cities. And Baja rats like me enjoyed the empty beaches.

CHOCKLETT'S FLIES HANG LIKE MARLIN AT A MARINA WEIGH-IN.

Blane Chocklett's innovative fly patterns

For noted fly tyer and guide Blane Chocklett, it is creativity that has set him apart from the folks throwing the same old patterns at the same old fish. Chocklett has made himself a life and career by searching out new fisheries and new fly patterns. If you have flyfished for a while, especially for some larger species, you have likely seen or thrown one of his patterns. Think Gummy Minnow or Game Changer.

FLYFISHING WHILE OLD (WITH FRIENDS)

"Plus ca change, plus c'est même chose." Like most trout fishermen my age, normal procedure is to find a place to get into some river and wade, an approach that confers a granular view of all on offer—details of bottom, hydrology, insect life, and general atmosphere. On balance, there are better ways to catch fish; here in the West, floating in a driftboat is probably the most effective, and easily free-bases ten to twenty miles of river in a day. Now that millennials are making a bit of dough, I often see them go past when they are not running over me. Things are happening fast for them, and their exuberance flows over. The one in the bow shouts "Shit!" and the one in the stern shouts "Fuck!" Between the sports, the guide on the oars does his best to make sense of this, decoding the river as it comes toward them with an eye to make the most of the opportunities—corners, slicks, glides, tailouts, undercut banks, and troughs. I have no problem picturing trout in these locales but it seems they are flashing past me in a manner disadvantageous to my talents.

Winter Driftless

Trout fishing in northern Minnesota in the summer is a good way to inhale a lot of bugs. Same for splitting wood, or cutting the grass, or any other sweaty, breathy work. Supposedly, my great-great uncle had a line for this, whenever one of the kids was choking and spitting on a mosquito: "Nothin' so small that it doesn't have a little bit of grease in it."

The Fix

Gunpowder and streamers in winter

The last time you wore that coat, campfire stories buried their scent into the seams above the elbow, where embers rose too quickly and charred patchy holes. By looking at the jacket, you taste the bourbon again and your throat burns. You scoured the entire Gunpowder River last fall, ending each weekend with a drink and a bonfire, feeling much farther than 20 miles from Baltimore. You remember the laughter, the friendships, warmer weather. That was fall.