How to cook fish in the backcountry

Smoking trout in the wild with nothing but tin foil
Photo: Spencer Durrant
For someone who grew up in the Rockies, I wasn’t all that bright on my first few trips to the backcountry. One trip, in my mid-teens, had me all but convinced I’d give up backpacking for good.

I’d packed the necessary items—a tent, sleeping bag, extra clothes, and fishing tackle—but what I’d loaded up on was food. I hated every step of that hike because of its weight and the real irony here is that I didn’t even eat half of what I’d brought.

The booze cruise

I get called a fisherman, but I don't think that's fitting
Photo: Chris Hunt
The celebratory week in Los Cabos was drawing to an end—the obligatory sunset dinner cruise out to the region’s famous arch that divides the Sea of Cortez from the Pacific was about over, and the big party boat was heading back to the marina.

Rubber vs. felt: Almost 10 years later

Getting a grip on where we are now
Photo: Kris Millgate
Spring runoff hasn’t muddied all of the water yet so I can clearly see where I’m placing my foot in the freestone river. Pebbles and a smudge of silt swirl around my wading boots turning the new, white-felt sole into a sponge absorbing green hues and gunk. I take another step. The sole on my other foot is designed dark so it doesn’t change color. It doesn’t grab as well either. It’s rubber. Rubber is on my right foot. Felt is on my left. I’m wading in mismatched boots testing the grip ability of rubber versus felt.

The poster boys of Bears Ears

Public lands perspective at ground zero
Fly fisher and trail runner Luke Nelson paddles the San Juan River while exploring Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah (photo: Myke Hermsmeyer).
I'm paddling a raft. Luke Nelson is paddling a board. We're both fly fishers from Idaho. We like boulder hopping small tributaries with Tenkara rods, but neither of us have a rod on this trip. We're in Bears Ears National Monument to run dirt and float water. Water that is so sandy, I know a hook set is not in the cards. I'm told native tribes find catfish here. Protected humpback chubs swim the San Juan River too, but with flows at 6,000 cubic feet per second instead of the average 2,000 cfs, the swift current isn't holding patience for casters so we paddle.