Chris Hunt's blog

Finding Yellowstone's grayling

Hiking for grayling in one of America's trout meccas
Photo: Morgan Peirce

Cameron was just over a year old when he took his first steps in the cobble along the south shoreline of Grebe Lake in Yellowstone National Park.

My wife and I had hauled our little family down the three-and-a-half-mile trail from the Grebe Lake Trailhead between Norris and Canyon to the shores of this beautiful little backcountry lake for one simple reason.

I wanted to catch Arctic grayling.

Winter in July?

In Leadville, it doesn't matter what the calendar says
Photo: Martin Ludden

Years ago, while working in the upper Arkansas River Valley as a small-town newspaper reporter and editor, I shared layout space with a number of other local newspapers. Our papers were owned by a small chain based in Salida, and every week, editors from Buena Vista, Fairplay and Leadville would descend upon the offices in Salida to put their papers to bed, get them printed and then haul them back up the hill to their respective communities.

Back from the brink

It's going to be a great summer
Angler Chris Hunt tangles with an Ascension Bay bonefish (photo: Chad Shmukler).

Five years ago, as I gingerly walked along the gunwale of a Mexican panga while the boat sat anchored in the sand of Ascension Bay, I misjudged my footing. Had I stepped down into the boat, I would have crushed my fishing buddy’s camera gear and earned his ire for the rest of the trip … perhaps the rest of my life. He really likes his camera gear.

But I was committed. My substantial body weight was headed in that general direction. But I did have an alternative. With my left foot, I kicked out, and flopped unceremoniously into the crystal clear water of the bay.

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).

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