Chris Hunt's blog

An ode to the stocker

Do hatchery trout—with their snubbed noses, tattered fins and inferior genetics—still have a place?
A hatchery-reared rainbow trout (photo: Chad Shmukler).

It was a cold, rainy day in April in the southern suburbs of Denver. I looked out my bedroom window, anxiously hoping the spring squall would go away. I’ll never forget my mother coming downstairs with the bad news.

The missing mojo

You don't know what you're missing until it's gone
Photo: Chad Shmukler

That old saying, “You don’t know what you’re missing until it’s gone” is so accurate it’s cruel. You really don’t yearn for the routine until the routine is all screwed up.

Earlier this winter, I finally dealt with some nagging back pain that was getting worse by the day. By the time I walked into the hospital for pre-op, I was dragging my left leg behind me.

Never leave fish to find fish

Does the old adage ring true?
A boat speeds across Laguna Madre in South Texas (photo: Thomas Cutrer).

I was crashed out cold in a surprisingly cozy bed, tucked into the corner of a sweet little shack on a Laguna Madre spoils island. We'd been chasing fish during an ill-timed brown tide, an algal breakout that tarnished the normally emerald green waters of the bay, but nothing really toxic. We'd seen some fish, but it wasn't lights out.

Shut up and fish

Your guide is your guide for a reason
Antonio, a guide at Mexico's Palometa Club, hoists a client and guide-earned permit (photo: Chad Shmukler).

A decade or so ago, my buddy Kirk Deeter, now a colleague of mine at Trout Unlimited, flew north to Lake Athabasca for some serious late-summer pike fishing.

Deeter, in addition to being an author and the editor of TROUT Magazine, is also a fly-fishing guide, so it was interesting to watch him interact with the native Dene First Nations guides we fished with over the course of a week.

Here's to spring

A lot of folks love fall, I hate it
Photo: Chad Shmukler

I’m certain I was the only angler in the remote Forest Service campground in the shadow of Lemhi Range. Labor Day had come and gone, and the backcountry now belonged bow hunters chasing elk.

I’d parked my little camper under the tall pines, and, with fire restrictions lifted just in time for hunting season, I imbibed of woodsmoke and the last of the clear liquor season. Cheap vodka poured over ice and seasoned with a diet Sprite—it’s my backwoods cocktail of choice. A “spritzer” as I and my summer drinking buddies jokingly call it, pinky fingers protruding defiantly as we drink.

Cleaned and gutted

There’s a fine line between being a conservationist and being a zealot
Cleaned trout prepared for cooking (photo. W. Works / cc2.0).

There’s a fine line between being a conservationist and being a zealot. That’s why both of my kids will be getting a refresher course in the coming days on how to properly dispatch, clean and gut a wild trout. Over my dead body will they succumb to zealotry.

Wait, wait, not yet

Take your time and let nature take its course
Photo: Chris Hunt

Every year about this time, I find myself pushing up some muddy mountain road, trying to get as far into the hills as I can. It’s not Memorial Day yet, which is the barometer most folks around the country use to mark the official beginning of summer (and most of us here in the Rockies denote as the date when it’s possible that the road to our favorite off-the-beaten path trout stream might be reachable without having to ski the last mile or two in).

Nature deficit disorder: Yes, it's a thing

An entire generation of kids has no idea what lies over the next ridge
Photo: Josh Hallet / cc2.0

Nature deprivation is a real thing, and I’m witnessing the impacts of being exposed to the wild and willingly foregoing exposure in both of my kids.

My daughter loves the outdoors. She’s working for the second year in a row in Grand Teton National Park, and just the other night, we exchanged photos and video via text of our respective campfires—hers in the shadows of the Tetons and mine on the high desert of southern Idaho, where I’d camped by the Snake River while chasing carp with my fly rod.

Age, pain and apologies

As we anglers age, we face unavoidable, inevitable truths
Still on the bow. For now (photo: Chad Shmukler).

I woke up one morning late last month and felt like I’d been doing sit-ups all night. Not that doing calisthenics in my sleep would necessarily be a bad thing, but the muscles in my gut had clearly been involuntarily enlisted into some sort of nocturnal enterprise, and not one I consciously approved of.

Home again

No thanks to the Ted Cruzes of the world
Railroad bridge over the Sabine River (photo: Patrick Feller).

I got a Facebook message from an old junior high friend the other day. He’d been out to the Sabine River in the sticky thicket of East Texas, and visited the spot we’d all camped as kids, “Stand by Me” style.

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