A maritime disaster

It went something like this ...
Photo: Chris Hunt (edited)

There was a barbecue somewhere in Port Isabel over the weekend, and the folks sitting around drinking Shiner had quite the story to tell while the pig finished up in the pit. It was the kind of barbecue I would have loved—sunshine, great weather, good people … some great food and beer.

Just good friends enjoying one of those patented South Texas winter days before the throngs of tourists and spring breakers show up and generally throw everything into chaos.

I'm guessing it went something like this:

Targeting trophy trout in small water

Tips for finding—and catching—bigger trout where you least expect them
Bringing in a sizeable trout on a small backcountry stream (photo: Chad Shmukler).

Years ago, I was told that a small lake in the Lost River headwaters here in Idaho was "basically fishless—a few small rainbows." Not long after that, while camping with my kids, we took a hike to that lake, and I stowed a fly rod in my pack, mostly because the hike paralleled a small creek most of the way up the mountain, and I'd been wondering if the stream held any trout. We didn't fish the creek, opting instead to trudge up the trail to our destination if, for no other reason, than to see what was sure to be a stunning view of the lake and the mountains around us.

Want to be a better angler? It'll take more than pixie dust.

5 reasons your wallet alone can't make you a better angler
Angler Matt Smythe lands a fish on a creek in the Tongass National Forest (photo: Earl Harper).

“Pssssstt ... buddy ... wanna buy some magic dust?”

There’s a common misconception among new anglers that time-tested virtues like awareness, experience and knowledge are less important to our overall success than the various & sundry items that we can order on Amazon or purchase from our local fly shop.

What do I mean? Well, it seems as if an awful lot of beginning anglers have convinced themselves that the new rod they’re about to buy, or the fly line, or the waders, or that specific fly pattern, or the sunglasses, or the brand new reel, is the key to achieving fly fishing nirvana with a minimum of fuss.

Which is where all that ‘magic dust’ comes into the picture. We have apparently brainwashed ourselves into believing that if we’re just willing to pull out our credit cards and sprinkle a little special hoodoo powder on our fishing - “Dude, check out this killer new rod. I’m going to wail on those fish now!” - then our new gear will more than make up for our lack of expertise.

Orvis' Tom Rosenbauer to receive 2019 Izaak Walton Award

The American Museum of Fly Fishing will honor the well known angler, author and fly fishing innovator
Photo: Todd Tanner

The fly fishing industry is chock full of colorful and passionate personalities. This probably comes as little surprise, as fly anglers tend to be a colorful and passionate lot. It's also a particularly friendly and close-knit community. But, like any close-knit group filled with impassioned, zealous individuals, there's inevitably a bit of friction. Spend enough time in the industry and you'll discover that there's virtually no one that doesn't have at least few critics or detractors. Except, perhaps, for Tom Rosenbauer.

American Woman

One of the most accomplished outdoorswomen of her day, gorgeous Jane Mason inspired Hemingway’s nastiest femmes fatales
Images from left to right: Mason posed along a wall (origin unknown), Mason with Carlos Gutierrez—who served as a boat guide for Hemingway—aboard Joe Russell’s boat “Anita” (photo: JFK Presidential Library and Museum, Boston), Mason in a skin care advertisement for Pond's Cold Cream.

"Here comes the Memsahib," he said. She was walking over from her tent looking refreshed and cheerful and quite lovely. She had a very perfect oval face, so perfect that you expected her to be stupid. But she wasn't stupid, Wilson thought, no, not stupid.