kid fly fishing
Photo: Domenick Swentosky

The kid

He only talked of fishing

The kid was ten years old and small for his age, but his legs were strong and he waded without fear. He fished hard. We shared a passion and a singular focus, so I enjoyed having him on the water. He stood just tall enough not to lose him in a field of goldenrod and he weighed less than the family dog. But he was sturdy, tough and determined, with an unwavering perseverance that kept him focused during the inevitable slow days with a fly rod.

san juan worm fly
Photo: Chad Shmukler

The worm

Just don't tie it on at the car

As spring rains in the Rockies push lowland creeks and streams out of their grassy banks and stain the water just a bit, smart anglers will disregard the disdain many fly fishers hold for a particular fly pattern and they’ll happily catch trout, because this fly does, indeed, match the hatch.

Aquatic worms dwell in the moist and muddy banks along bottomland springs and streams, and when water rises, these worms—not unlike the ones you used to dig up in grandma’s garden before heading off to fish as a kid—end up in the water. And the trout love them.

Trout Unlimited Trout in the Classroom
Photo: Kris Millgate

Trout trip

A classroom down by the river

I hear giggling. It’s a muffled, hand-over-the-mouth kind of giggling, but it’s giggling nonetheless. The giggles are coming from a huddle halfway down the trail leading to the fish ladder on the river. The curious nature of the reporter in me must investigate the giggles so I sling my camera pack onto my back and hike to the huddle. I’m short so my small stature blends in nicely with the fifth graders who maintain their low laugh when I join them. Their heads are down and I see why. There’s a tangled ball of mating snakes in the middle of the dirt walkway.

brown trout fly fishing
Releasing a fine brown trout (photo: Christopher Hampl).

Getting into the swing of things

Building wet flies into your nymphing rig can double your chances for success

Spring time in central Pennsylvania is hatch time, which means numerous mayflies, caddis, and stoneflies hatching in strong numbers. Along with ideal water conditions (clarity and depth), these hatches create a perfect storm for the angler during which all tactical options are on the table – dry flies, wet flies and nymphing. During a hatch, one of the deadliest approaches can often be swinging wets, emergers and/or soft hackles. Unfortunately, wet fly tactics have become sort of a lost art with many of today’s anglers.

The Simms ZipIt Bootie II
The Simms ZipIt Bootie II (photo: Chris Hunt).

Review: Simms ZipIt Bootie II

Simms simple flats bootie is more substantial than it looks

I have horrible feet. Full-on hammer toes. High arches. I’m prone to ingrown toenails. When my feet are mistreated, everything suffers, especially my fishing.

I have several pairs of wading boots that I don for very specific wading situations. Heavy duty boots with spikes for big water and slime-covered rocks. I use lighter canvas boots that can be worn over neoprene booties for wet-wading, and I will occasionally drill spikes into them, too. I even have a pair of sandals that I’ll wear on warm days on small water where the rocks aren’t too big and staying cool is important.