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I was there before
By: Alan Chidester

Before pavement tamed places only previously accessible to those willing to risk a little more. Before social media became the way to share (or over share) fishing information. Before everyone was able to access any and all information on any location in the world via the Internet. I was there before.
 
Let me start from the beginning. It begins with me finishing my undergraduate degree in 1998. I suppose I could have started working in that field immediately, but life had other plans.
 
I found out what the Internet was about then, and found out you could get amazing information and use “electronic messages” to contact people around the world. I began emailing lodges and guide services in Chile and Argentina. I had purchased a ticket for 3 months in Chile to go fishing and sightseeing in Patagonia, and thought maybe I could get some work down there. Most responses said that no help was needed. One of the messages was about a ranch at a destination in Argentina, and I noticed that the mailing address for the man who responded was in my hometown in Utah. So I emailed back, asking if he needed a bilingual guide. He called me back, and we met at the local burger joint and, after he went through a stack of pictures of me and my friends and family catching fish, he explained that they were just starting out, that an American had just purchased a 10,000-acre cattle and sheep ranch, and that it had a great trout river running through it. Literally. I had never actually done paid guided fly fishing trips before, but I had taught many people all about fly-fishing, I was enthusiastic, and had been tying flies for years. So when he called me a few days later to offer the job, I jumped at the chance. 10 days later I was on a plane, and then a bus, and then another bus, and met up with my boss in central Patagonia, Argentina.
 
I lived in a wall tent on the side of the hill, with a floor I built, and slept in a sleeping bag for 5 months among the cattle and horses on the ranch. I helped build the lodge. I tied flies. I made contacts with locals. I made friends with other guides from the general area, which usually meant at least a 2-hour drive over mostly dirt roads back to civilization. I had a Honda four-wheeler as my transportation and a whole summer to fish, explore, and document my experiences. I never had so much freedom, fun, and adventure. Video and still cameras were my primary companions most of that summer. I was there before the lodge, before most fishermen knew the potential of this river, and before many more people came to know it. In that and following years I have spent countless hours getting to know that river, and have found nothing else like it. Imagine the perfect trout river, nearly all to yourself, winding through an amazing valley walled by the Andes. I was there before.
 
When I got home the next May I had no job prospects. The same man who got me the job in Argentina called Steve Schmidt at Western Rivers Flyfisher. My boss had been talking to Steve about organizing group trips down to the lodge in Argentina, and asked Steve if he was looking for help. I wasn’t too hopeful.  But my boss came back and told me that Steve was looking for help, and he’d like to meet me. So I went into the shop and met up with Steve, and he offered me the job. When I asked Steve if there was a dress code of any kind, he got a perplexed look on his face, and said, “Nobody has ever asked that before”. 
 
So I spent North American summers in the fly shop selling flies and guiding local waters, and South American summers guiding in Argentina the next two years, making friends, exploring and guiding on new waters, and spending countless hours on the water, which I will never be able to replicate. After 3 years of trying to make the guide service work, the Argentine guide service I worked for shut down. I was lucky enough to continue to travel down to South America the next 6 years, either with groups of fishermen or on my own. Steve was very supportive of my travels down to South America and I was able to take several groups down over the years.  However, even when I would ask Steve if it was okay if I left for 2 or 4 or 6 weeks to go down and fish with my Argentine and Chilean friends, he would simply say something like, “see you when you get back”. It was on one of those trips in 2003 that I found THE fish. You know, THAT fish that every fisherman has, the one that a fisherman will never forget.
 
It was February (August in South America), and it was HOT. I was back at the ranch where I guided for a week of solo fishing and spending time with friends. I was fishing a fairly small, cold tributary to the main river I guided on. In past years I had only caught small fish there.  I came upon a long, deep run, which is rare on this stream, as it tumbles down between steep canyon walls and falls quickly down into the main river. Large boulders and pocket water are the norm on this river. One afternoon I cast my PMX up to the head of the run, and missed what looked like a large fish. I decided to rest the pool, come back the next day, and do more exploring up the canyon. 
 
The next morning I gassed up the 4 wheeler and went back to the same run. I set up my tripod with my old 1970’s Olympus manual SLR and loaded up some Velvia film. I started down low in the run, slowly fishing upriver, trying to not spook anything. I caught a few smaller browns and rainbows, but didn’t see anything like what I had seen the day before. After a few photos with the self-timer I made it up to where I could cast to the top of the run. I made the cast, the Speckled X plopped down, and a large mouth engulfed the fly. I set the hook, and immediately a large brown shape leaped out of the water. It jumped at least 2 or 3 more times, and the fight was on. He ran up and down the run, doing everything in his power to get unhooked. I was not happy that I chose a 5 weight instead of the usual 6 weight I usually fish when in Patagonia. The large brown trout eventually tired, and as I led him into my Argentine net, I was blown away. It was a brown trout so fat it looked like its mother was a largemouth bass. I had never seen a trout of that proportion. It had fat rolls near its tail.  It was one of those moments known only to a fisherman. The feeling is indescribable. It is one of those instances when everything comes together, when the perfect combination of situation, fly, and cast merge into one perfect moment. I snapped a few quick pictures and got him back into the river. As he pushed his way back into the deep run I thought to myself, “I have caught larger fish, but I have never caught a better fish”. I continued upriver, and found many other large, wild browns that were making me chase them UPstream, up through the powerful pocket water roaring down the canyon. It was one of the most memorable days on the water I’ve had before or since.
 
I have Steve to thank for countless experiences that I have had for years after my first summer in Patagonia. He gave me a chance, without knowing just how little I really knew about fly-fishing, before I started working at the fly shop. Thanks to him taking a risk on an inexperienced trout bum I had the opportunity to learn so much during the 5-½ years I worked at Western Rivers. I made many friends while working at the shop and continue to fish with many of them to this day. Steve continues to give me opportunities to be involved in the fly shop, which I appreciate. I have Steve to thank for this and so many other memories and experiences. I’m sure that I never would have caught that fish without the opportunity Steve gave me, as he allowed me the chance to take weeks off of work every year to just fish and explore.  So thanks, Steve, for giving me the chance to catch my fish of a lifetime.
 

 
The Talent
by Steve Schmidt

When I first met Bud Murray nearly 30 years ago I just knew him as Bud the ex-coach who had a reputation as an all around good angler.   That was back in the early 80's when I was doing time at Anglers Inn.  With a name like Bud who was a good stick, how could you not take him seriously.  As he was then, he is today at Western Rivers, a colorful character who is well respected and most always has a nice easy going smirk on his face. Occasional he is still referred to as coach, but he's acquired a few more titles since my Anglers Inn days and those seem to fit his character just as well.

Since meeting him at Anglers Inn he's become a part of the fabric and rich history of Western Rivers Flyfisher and at 77 and elder statesman of the morning Coffee Crew.   They gather daily for java at the shop to solve the worlds problems, plan their next fishing trip, talk about the weather or what a mess the world is, all before heading off to fish or make their next Dr's appointment or to knock off an item from their never ending Honey Dew lists.  Life should be that casual for us all and the Coffee Crew bunch do a good job of making it seem so.  Given their collective age, especially the core of this group, they've earned that.

It's been a  few years now  since he's put his guiding cap on.  After a while like all of us, he'd had enough and simply wanted his time on the water to be his own, yet he's more than happy to give you one of his latest flies he's tied up or to queue you in on what is fishing hot.  That is after he's done getting his fill.  At his age, it's hard to argue with that. 

One of my memorable moments  of Bud occurred one fine crisp morning at the boat ramp to section A on the Green River.  I knew Bud pretty well at this point, but rumors were all I knew of his demeanor, especially under duress.  We'll on this particular morning I got to see a side of Bud that I'd only been aware of through some of his athletes he'd coached in the past who over the years have shared their fondness and memories of Coach Murray.

It wasn't too uncommon to see Bud's beautiful wooden dory backing down the Green River boat ramp during the summer shortly after I opened the shop.   As I've come to know Bud has a knack for being on the water when a fishery is fishing well. I may have mentioned that.  He's good at being at the right place at the right time. Fishy guys have that knack.  That still holds true today. Back in the late 80's and early 90's the Green River simply was a stupid fishery, especially when the Cicadas were out.  On this particular morning he'd already launched his boat, tied it up just a short distance from mine, and was preparing to move his vehicle when things got a little ugly.  As he headed to his car some young dude dressed to the 9's was preparing to launch his boat.  While one guy backed the rig into the drink, Mr. GQ  sat prepped in the dories rowing seat, oars in hand, poised and ready. Bud stopped to watch this sport pull off this fancy maneuver  as did we all. As the trailer and boat entered the water the driver hit the breaks sending the boat careening downriver.  The boat came to rest after it slammed into Bud's dory it's anchor punching a hole in the bow of his beautiful wooden boat. 

If I and the others would have known what was about to unfold, we would have bought tickets for the show.  Bud got in this guys grill and the fireworks began to fly.  By the time he  got done dressing this young buck down there wasn't anything left for him to do, but tuck his tail between his legs, say he was sorry, and find someplace to hide.  As he walked off you could of heard a pin drop.  We still talk about that moment and get a good chuckle upon reliving the event.  It was awesome!

Not long after he retired and started hanging with the coffee crew they started pounding the South Fork of the Snake.  Mostly Bill Young, Lynn Calder and Bud, but on occasion my partner Dave Lattimore and Dan "Chico Malo" Eliason would tag along.  There's another story to be told regarding Chico Malo, but we'll get to that down the road in another Throwback. 

This was an ominous crew.  They became known as the Rangers after a noteworthy evening while camping on the South Fork.  To the best of Bud's recollection Lynn Calder was  the instigator.  Nothing new here.  After dinner he saddled up to the cozy fire unscrewed the cap from his bottle of Jägermeister and threw it away.  Some crawled to their tents that night, others didn't fare as well. With that, the Rangers were born.   Bud emerged as the head of this notorious rag tag group and for the shop staff and rivers of the west the newly formed Rangers were a force to be reckoned with.

The softer side of Bud became apparent when he acquired yet another title, The Talent. Similar to other names he'd been dubbed this one to seemed to be self anointed. Blue Cross & Blue Shield had hired an add agency and they were looking for a grandfatherly figure and a young boy to shoot a commercial on the Green River. My son and Bud became The Talent for that photo shoot as Bud liked to profess.  After The Talent received his check for the engagement he thought about becoming a professional model, since it paid far better than guiding. We'll as we told him, it never hurts to dream, but his skill set served him better as a guide than it did as a pretty face in front of a camera lens. 

Finally another moniker Bud proudly answers to when discussions wander around the shop of  South America is Gaucho Bob.  Bud, Stu Asahina and Bill Young, all seasoned Coffee Crew members asked me to organize a trip to Argentina.  Many of them felt this would be their last big adventure.  This trip launched our long and continued friendship with Ron Sorensen and his awesome crew of Chocolate Lab Expeditions guides.  I probably would have never ventured to Argentina if it hadn't been for them.  Now seven years later, this has become an annual shop trip that I host and I'm very grateful they made this happen.  

One of my more humorous memories I have of Bud, and there are many over the years,  occurred on our initial visit to Argentina.  It was on the day we first arrived.   As we were leaving the  plane we realized that Bud was suffering from a mild overdose of Ambien and could use a little help exiting the plane.  He had taken one too many on the long flight and hadn't quite come out of it by the time we had landed. Now Bud's not a small guy.   After helping him off the plane and then through the long custom line he was sent off on his own to confront the customs officer.  He arrived with a sloppy grin on his face and had to lean against the booth to hold himself up.  A few of us went ahead of him in case he needed assistance on the other side, that is if they let him into the country in the first place.  We have no idea how he pulled it off and we were all too busy laughing to do anything about it had he been rejected.   He recovered just fine and enjoyed along with the rest of us an incredible fly-fishing experience, one we will never forget.  Somewhere in the middle of the week our Argentine guides had fondly given him the name Gaucho Bob.  It seemed to suit him well, although I don't think it had anything to do with his ability to ride a horse.  In fact I don't think he's ever been on one?  I think it happened when he bought his first Gaucho hat at the feed lot store.  Every year we return his name fondly comes up.  Having known him for as long as I have there is good reason for that.

Buds a character and his numerous names lend credence to that.  Above all he's a good friend and one whose helped make the fly shop what it is today.  If you're a frequent customer, especially in the morning, he may have even waited on you.  He's always there to lend a helping hand and there's nothing he likes better than sharing what he's learned about fishing with a fly.  For those who are fortunate to know him well, we recognize that he knows a lot.

 

"Saint" Ernie 
by Steve Schmidt

When I was still a University of Utah student I took a class on entomology from Dr. George Edmunds, foremost in the world on mayflies.  I asked him during class one day what he thought of Ernest Schwiebert's works on the subject, in particular his acclaimed book Nymph's.    Typical of Dr. Edmunds he sarcastically responded with “you mean Saint Ernie".  According to the good Dr., Mr. Schwiebert often took liberties in his writings creating a few extra mayflies after the guy above called it quits on the 7th day.  Before he passed away I ran into the man I'd idolized as a young fly-fisher on several occasions, but we'll get to that.

 
Ernest Schwiebert was a legendary fly-fisher who many of us, vicarious lived through.   Photos of him frequently found Mr. Schwiebert posed with some ginormous salmon or brown trout dangling from his hand in some far off corner of the world.  His two volume book, Trout I still feel is one of the most entertaining and exhaustive works done on the subject.  His flair to spin a tale on paper accompanied by his lifelike illustrations made his works captivating.  His literary prowess and records of his travels definitely influenced me, often evoking images of far off places, foreign languages, waters and desolate landscapes.
 
I first met Mr. Schwiebert at a show.  A young Mark Forslund, one of our Green River Guides, was with me.   After my brief introduction and ensuing short discussion with the man I turned to Mark and asked him if he knew who that was?  When he answered no, I told him it was Ernest Schwiebert, expecting a little light bulb to go off.  Instead he looked at me unknowingly and remarked "who’s that".  I just shook my head. 
 
Some years later I had the good fortune of being Marc Bale's guest on a trip to Russia's Kola Peninsula.  Mark in 1997 was Sage Fly Rod's VP of Marketing.  It was a trip of a lifetime to fish for Atlantic Salmon, yet I was as exited to fish in Russia as I was to spend time with someone so well-traveled in his own right, and share in an adventure that Marc had taken before. 
 

It was on this trip that I again crossed paths with Mr. Schwiebert.  Gathered in this Throwback photograph is Ernest Schwiebert holding court, as usual, with my traveling partner Marc Bale to his right contemplating his morning words of wisdom.  I believe the gentleman next to Marc on the couch is Herb; an older man who exemplified character.  To his right, Mr. Peter Stroh, Chairman of the Stroh Brewing Company.  Mr. Stroh's Midwest beers were our beverage of choice when I was a teen growing up in Dayton, Ohio.  We thought so much of his fine brews that we named a cul-de-sac where we frequently played stickball after them; Stroh's Sewer Front Stadium.   The two gentlemen on the couch to Mr. Schwiebert's right owned one of the largest lingerie fabric companies in the world.  They were always smiling for some reason. We were enjoying our morning shot of Stoley's, lox and toast prior to breakfast.  In the early part of the trip that’s how we began each morning. 

From the minute we landed in Murmansk it was obvious we weren't in Kansas anymore.  Upon arriving we were escorted by armed guards to a vacant bar, curtains were drawn with no explanation as to our prolonged detainment. My guess is they had no one to process us. It’s not like there were a lot of arrivals on any given day to this distant dilapidated city.   This strange encounter seemed more like a Humphrey Bogart movie than the beginning of an epic fly-fishing adventure.  And this was just the beginning.

By the time we boarded one of Russia's large antiquated helicopters the peninsula was shrouded in a dense fog.  I remember lifting through the dense  bank of clouds before quickly popping out into brilliant sunlight just as another helicopter replicated our maneuver a short distance from us.  It was close enough that it was a little unnerving knowing these guys had limited communications.  As we neared our destination we dropped down through the enveloping fog and ran at tree top down several canyons before finding the one where our camp on the Kharlovka was located. Although it was a white knuckle ride, one had to be impressed with the agility of these old birds in tight quarters and the skill of our pilots from the time we left Murmansk to when we hit terra firma.  I've flown a fair amount in Jet Rangers before, but flying in one of these cargo vessels gave me an entirely new perspective on helicopter flight. 
 
The week started off cool and wet.  Given we were above the Arctic Circle one would expect that, yet within a day summer hit the artic.  During our stay the landscape went from a drab brown with patches of remnant snow to the most vibrant greens one could imagine.  The tundra’s billions of mosquitos magically appeared and what better blood sucking target than a bunch of pale white guys wandering around hoping to catch a salmon or two.  With the weather being unseasonably warm and the rivers somewhat low, the fishing was tough, but  I was too enthralled with the entire experience to be influenced by just this, yet there would be changes ahead that didn't involve the weather that would have an effect on us all.
 
The first sign of things going array impacted our pre-breakfast ritual of Stoley's, lox and toast, but by the middle of the week we noticed that the Stoley's was no longer available. Not that there wasn't Vodka to be had, after all we were in Russia, but the good stuff suddenly had dried up.  The food took a significant nose dive as well, and portions were definitely getting smaller.  Due to a lack of helicopter fuel by weeks end we had to walk to what few beats on the Kharlovka River we could.  For several of us this wasn't an issue.  For some of the older clients, it significantly limited the waters that they could fish. 
 

As these series of events were unfolding I had my second conversation with Mr. Schwiebert.  To this day, I have no idea what it was about.  Up to this point we'd exchanged some pleasantries, but that was the extent of our dialog.  I was working on my morning constitution when the man seated in the stall next to me starts a conversation.  It was Saint Ernie himself.   While he's carrying on, I'm sitting there trying to put perspective on this awkward moment.  Here I am having a conversation with  one of my fly-fishing idols, a respected author, fly fisherman extraordinaire, legend and of all place  seated  in a Russian outhouse.  My perspective of the man from this day forward hasn't been the same.  I still admire and read his eloquent writings and marvel at his artistic abilities, but my impressions are tainted somewhat by that occasion.

 
Sometime after arriving back in this country, Marc Bale gave me a call to fill me in on the continuing saga of our Russian adventure.  Behind us, Mike Michalak flew a group in to the Kharlovka.  When his party arrived the cupboards were bare.  Mike flew back to Murmansk and had to purchase supplies to get his group through their week.  Knowing him, that's the very mild version of what took place.  It also came to light that the camp manger, when he wasn't sneaking off with eligible bachelorettes, was skimming his share of the proceeds off the top.  Looking back, we were the lucky ones. 
 
I've found events such as these are just some of the rewards of memorable travel when you head out in the world with a fly-rod in your hand, but that too depends on how you look at things.  For Marc and me, I don't know if we would have changed a thing.  You can always catch fish, but it's those intangibles that come into play, the people you meet and travel with that makes a trips like this that much more memorable. 


Jim Vincent: 
by Steve Schmidt

The other day I got a call from Jim Vincent; one of this industries more innovative personalities, a great stick regardless of species, and at one time a prolific writer.  Fortuitously I had him queued up for my next Throwback article after I came across this photo I took of him bowing while fast to a pissed off tarpon.  For those not familiar with who he is, Jim and his wife Kitty began RIO, a leader, tippet and fly line company that changed all aspects of terminal tackle as we know them today.  He sold the company a decade ago, yet he still helps them pursue perfection when it comes to the products that RIO offers.  That is, however when he's not fishing or chasing upland game, which he does a fair amount of now that he's retired.   
 
In 1990 or 91 I met Jim and Kitty at a buyers show in Denver.  They had some cleaver little gadgets, some waterproof journals  and a few other nick knacks in their 10' X 10' booth , but nothing in particular that would lead one to believe that they would one day turn the fly line industry on it's head.  Jim and I hit it off .  Our common ground for chasing steelhead and fishing the Henry's Fork has led to a long relationship, yet it was the steelhead game that created that first ah ha moment with he and Kitty's new found company. 

When I began the steelhead game I quickly learned that the only leader and tippet material you used was Maxima.  For those who pursued these fish there were simply no other viable choices.  I learned that the hard way, but that's another story.  Although it was a tough material, their system for keeping it on the spool was useless and a constant source of frustration.  It was always a tangled mess and in various stages of unwind in your vest.  That was until Jim came up with Tippet Tamers.

Most of you probably have never heard of this product, but at the time the two rubber sowing machine belts that came in each package of Tippet Tamers when fit securely around a spool of Maxima solved this chronic problem.  Next to meeting these two charismatic people from RIO, of all the cool stuff I saw at that show,  there was nothing I was more exited about than those. 

It wasn't too long after we met that I started to learn how to use a  Spey rod.  Unlike today where one has a variety of ways  to quickly queue up a Spey casting lesson, I learned from a set of simple stick figure drawings that Jim sent me. Like most things fly-fishing he was always out front of the game and at the time he was the only person I knew who had taken up the big rod.   It wasn't the easiest way to learn, but between my frequent phone conversation with Jim, what books I could find on the subject, and an eventual lesson from him that I started to figure it out.  I'm sure I and others drove him nuts in those early days as we tried to figure out how to cast those two handers. 

Coincidentally at about that that same time Jim, Kelly Watt and a few other creative steelheaders were working on what would become the first modern Spey line.  Some years later RIO would eventually bring a version of it to market.  Before Spey lines were available you simply used a very large double taper fly line.  These lifeless lines simply sucked.  No other way to put it.  Jim was still in the gadget phase of his business and had yet to contract with the Cortland Line company to build his first RIO fly lines.  So Jim and his buddies started manually splicing together 3 to 4 different fly line sections to make what would eventually become the first performance based Spey line.   I was fortunate to get some of those early formulas.  Although a serious and expensive pain in the ass to construct, they were a significant improvement over the old double taper lines we initially were forced to use.

Jim's dedication towards manufacturing  the best fly lines, leaders and tippets became evident when he invited me to join him on one of his two week saltwater R & D sessions in Key West.   Twice a year, Jim and members of his RIO team would work with key dealers on improving the growing line of RIO products.  First in Key West, then with a fall trip to the Missouri River.  I knew little of these trips, but by now I knew Jim pretty well and knew above all he liked to fish.   Although we did plenty of that, the R & D part was far more extensive than what I had originally surmised.

From the moment I arrived in Key West my initial perception of what was going to go down for my brief stay was throttled .  There was stuff everywhere in the living room of the house he'd rented, and by stuff I mean boxes of fly lines, leaders, backing  and  tippet.  In a corner stood a pile of rods. Strewn across the kitchen table and counter were an array of very nice saltwater reels loaded with the latest fly lines to test.   Sitting off to the side was another pile of reels ready to receive the next saltwater prototype.  It was an overwhelming and impressive sight , but what really impressed me was Jim constant focus.
 
After our day on the water Jim was still processing how the products we tested performed.  In the middle of dinner he pulled out a small pad and pen and began to write down his impressions, some calculations and thoughts we'd just discussed.   As much as he had been driven to become a very talented and diverse flyfisher, it was evident as well that he was equally motivated to build a successful fly-fishing company and the best products in the business.  Over the years that pad and pen became a familiar item I'd see Jim scribbling on.  Even in our most recent conversation he was still tweaking and refining that which he set in motion over twenty years ago.  He just can't let that inquisitive process rest.

One of my most memorable encounters with Jim involved my son, Mike. It was almost a decade after we'd met.  My son and I were on the Henry's Fork when he was around 12 or 13 years old.  Since the Henry's Fork was in Jim's back yard, it wasn't unusual to find he  or Kitty chillin in their Airstream or fishing these fabled waters.  We came across Jim  and watched him proceed to hook a nice rainbow.  Nonchalantly with trout in tow, he waded over to us casually handing my son the rod and briefly instructed him on how to land this fish, which Mike eventually did.  Mike at his young age didn't have any experience with a fish like this, and I remember Jim telling him   "if the fish wants to run, let him run.  If it stops reel it in". I still crack up a little when ever I think about that moment knowing that as easy as he made it sound, for those of us who fish this river we know this to be far from true.  

Although those that know Jim recognize him for his business success, few knew him as a gifted writer.  It's a rare steelhead season when I don't pull out one of his old articles in Gray's Sporting Journal.  What I liked about his writing, other than he was a great story teller, is he never gave away his waters.  There may be hints in his writings, but he never  promoted the rivers he fished.   With the advent of social media, and selfies I'm sure Jim's aversion to todays frivolous practices leaves him rolling his eyes rolls.  If you like good writing, and can procure any of his old articles, I would recommend doing so, especially if you steelhead fish.  Although he hasn't written a piece in a while, now that he's got more time, I wish he'd put pen to paper once again. 

There have been a number of people who  have come to know in this industry, some more influential then others.  Jim was one of the later.  Before we hung up, we got onto the subject of steelheading.  It's pretty rare that we don't.  That's one thing we have never done together.  Given his contributions to my steeheading prowess, while I still can I hope that's something we'll be able to do  that, especially while we still have time. 

The Big Guy: This isn't going to be a short story
by Steve Schmidt

This Throwback piece won't do the "Big Guy" justice.  It would take more than these few words to describe Emmett Heath, what he's meant to Western Rivers Flyfisher, to those who know him and how he's revered on his beloved Green River.   Emmett Heath, or as he's more widely known "The Dean of the Green", which is a name he' s not to fond of, for a rather soft spoken individual has become one of the more recognized characters in all of fly-fishing.   That's not by accident.  In 1992 Rod and Reel magazine recognized him as their Guide of the Year; an award that was well deserved.  He was not only an accomplished guide and flyfisher, but a man with great character, sense of humor and passion for life.

I first met Mr. Heath when he worked for Anglers Inn at their Sandy Store in the late 70's.  I remember how intimidated I was by him initially.  That was probably a combination of his reputation, his size, his quiet disposition and the fact that I didn't know much about the game at that point.  Unlike many of todays know it all's, who think by their mere abilities to catch a fish or two they deem themselves as knowing a thing or two.  Emmett by contrast was truly a student of the game and worldly in regards of his craft.  His expansive fly-fishing library was evidence of this,  so was his impressive collection of his prized rods and reels.  His skills with a fly rod in his hand were second to none.  Past or present I've come to know few who were as versed in the sport or as accomplished as Emmett is.  He is a vacuum for knowledge and to this day he loves sharing  that wealth with those he meets.  These are just a few of the qualities that Emmett has that separates him from many who professionally have taken to the sport.

It wasn't until I saw him cast at an exhibition that I really got a sense for Emmett's talents as a flyfisher.  Actually he was probably the first flyfisher that I saw cast a fly rod with any kind of proficiency.  For those of you who were born with a PC, tablet or Smart Phone in your hand,  this was before CD's, YouTube, Vimeo  and fly-fishing film tours were common place and a decade prior to when PC's were available at even the most basic level.


At the time unless you had someone like Emmett to learn from you picked up fly-fishing  from the spoken word,  stick figures on paper, or photo's and text in a book.  Looking back I don't know if I and those who knew him then realized how fortunate we were to have someone like him as a fly-fishing resource.  Whether it was casting, understanding hatches, tying flies or the many nuances that are incorporated into fishing with flies, Emmett had command of them all.

That impressive casting demonstration took place at a local pool.  At his back side was an 8' cast iron fence.  While he talked about fly casting he held an inordinate amount of fly line in the air.  He easily cleared the fence behind him while unfurling these incredibly long beautiful loops of line out over the clear waters of the pool.   I don't think many of us took stock in what he said since we were so transfixed on his effortless casting abilities. 

From the time we met to when Emmett, Dave Lattimore and I created Western Rivers Flyfisher I was fortunate to fish a fair amount with the Big Guy. If you considered all the great waters we'd spent time on  prior to starting the shop; Strawberry River, Strawberry Reservoir,  Provo River, Silver Creek, Henry's Fork, Madison, Firehole, Gallatin, it’s a long illustrious list, yet  of all these waters he would put the Green River as his favorite.  He loved  the country it dissected, its emerald gin clear waters, it's incredible diversity of trout, and wildlife.  Emmett  to this day feels most at home when he's  alone immersed in all it's splendor.  It's why he still lives there today and after all these years I can't imagine him ever moving on.

Looking back there are so many stories, but these few really stand out.   Emmett was first and foremost and incredible athlete.  Big as a bear, yet agile like cat.  As powerful as he was, the Big Guy was all finesse.  His abilities were easily evident  in the way he cast a fly rod, tied  the tiniest of flies with his huge mitts, deftly rowed a boat or simply carried himself.  At one point in his life he mastered how to throw a sling;  not exactly your average past time entertainment as a guide, but then this was very much in character with who he was.  In ancient times this was a formidable weapon.  After watching Emmett handle this apparatus I saw why.

The best way to picture him throwing  this ancient weapon is to envision a shot putter,  how they wind their power bodies like a coiled spring, then launch into a powerful  pirouette before hurling the shot some inordinate distance.  This is basically how one maneuvers to use a sling, except rather than cradle the shot in the nape of ones neck, with a sling you swiftly rotate it overhead while your body swiftly uncorks before letting one side of the sling slide precisely from your hand  releasing the projectile with incredible velocity towards the target.  This wasn't an easy thing to do.  In fact I remember one night almost taking Emmett's head off in a attempt to learn how to use it properly.  It required power, sensitivity and skill.  

One incident involving this contraption comes to mind in particular.  Emmett and I had set up camp in Pugh Mire on the south side of the river one evening.  As we were getting ready for bed  we could here a number people on the other side of the river carrying on.  It turns out they were bait fishing for the rivers prized trout.  The night was so dark and still you could hear the bodies of the trout thrashing in the plastic buckets they had been dumped in.  From across the river you could easily make out here every word the anglers were saying.  Emmett was enraged when he figured out they were poaching.

This being Emmett's river, he wasn't going to tolerate this wanton abuse.  He loaded his sling, let it gently sway from his hand with the weight of the rock cradled in it, before completing a single violent revolution of his body and letting it fly.  As the rock made it's way through the darkness to the far side of the canyon it sounded like an artillery round in flight before it shattered on the red rock cliff some distance behind the poachers.  They turned off their flashlights and in an instant the canyon suddenly went quiet.  Emmett loaded another rock in the sling and launched  another round.   The sound of it shattering on the canyon wall could be heard echoing up and down the river corridor.  The next thing we heard was the sound of these guys trying to exit the canyon as fast as they could in total darkness not knowing the source of the assault.  At that point Emmett and I couldn't hold our laughter back any longer.  It was simply awesome.  


Not soon after this Mother Nature had a little "Come to Jesus" with Mr. Heath one bright and beautiful sunny day.  He was guiding on section B, just above Red Creek rapids when one of his customers  got their fly stuck on a ledge over the river.  He rowed over to the ledge, rested one hand on the gunwale for balance of his infamous yellow dory while reaching with the other to retrieve the fly.  As he did so, a large section of the ledge broke loose and landed on the hand that rested on the edge his boat.  If he'd been in an aluminum boat he would have lost his hand.  Fortunately the fiberglass boat took the brunt of the  impact.  He was lucky, they all were lucky the boat didn't capsize or sink from the impact or that someone didn't get more seriously hurt.  When I got the opportunity to see the damage to his boat I saw the scaring from the incident covered 2/3's of the gunwale.  Later when I floated over the submerged boulder, I couldn't believe the how big the piece of ledge rock was. 

Alan Woolley, another one of Western's guides, was just a short distance away and rowed over to see what the commotion was about.  One look at Emmett's mangled hand soon showed Emmett was  seriously hurt.  Typical Emmett, not wanting to be a hindrance to anyone , he simply told Alan and his clients that he'd be fine and would row out.  Actually, looking back if anyone could it would probably be him.  They did get out of the canyon, but it was a group effort, one that Emmett was embarrassed by. Needless to say his hand was never the same, but it didn't slow him down much.  Even with the feeling and strength in his hand being compromised after it healed he was still the best guide on the sticks on the Green when it came to skill and power.  Like everything else he did, he was an incredibly talented oarsman.   

I mentioned earlier in this piece of Emmett's affection for the Green River.  I'm sure at this juncture that's become fairly obvious.  However, looking back as a flyfisher we all have home waters; rivers, streams, places that are special to us, yet in most instances we don't work on those fisheries.   Typically these home waters are places we escape to that provide solace from the day to day that consumes so much of our lives anymore.  In Emmett's mind there was only one place that offered him such contentment and it was the Green.  That should tell you something about how special and unique this resource is, not only in his, but others eyes.  Evidence of that was one of the first times Emmett took some time off.

Emmett rarely took a break from guiding during the season. He loved guiding and sharing this river with his numerous clients.  After a number of seasons he finally took some time to himself.   He had offers from clients to come visit them, other rivers he enjoyed, but when it came down to it he just wanted to spend time relaxing on his river.  I remember seeing some humor in this act originally, but later realized how lucky he was.  Not only did this river provide a livelihood, but it also offered him so much more than that.  I don't there are many of us who could say that about where they work.

He spent much of that time off wandering around in the shadows of Matt Warner, Butch Cassidy, Ann and Josie Bassett and other notorious outlaws who took up winter residence in Browns Park or section C as it's commonly referred to on the Green.  One of Emmett's qualities that I appreciated and what sets him apart from many other guides or flyfishers is his knowledge of rivers, and not just as fisheries.  He new of this rivers rich history, its abundant flora and fauna, and had an intense understanding of the delicate balance the river played in all of this.  If you were fortunate to have him as your guide, especially one you spent some time with over the years, you know what I'm talking about.  He not only had an intimate understanding and respect for this resource, but he also recognized his place and the impact he and his clients had on the Green. 


The first time I ever went fishing with Emmett I learned of his aversion to vegetables.   I don't know if that was the cause of his heart failing him, but we'd goad him into thinking so.  Eleven years ago Emmett  needed a new heart.  After  two years of waiting he almost ran out of time before one was available.  Thanks to that new lease on life,  today he still runs Western Rivers Green River Guide service.  Although he doesn't have the strength to row a boat anymore, it doesn't keep him from sharing his knowledge of this river with the great clients we have fishing with us, or enjoying this incredible resource with his fly rod, or his camera.  And, although he no longer man's the oars, you will frequently still find him bouncing down some dirt road checking out a the river or some forgotten canyon in hopes of uncovering a part of this remote corner of Utah that he hadn't discovered yet.  

Thanks to Emmett when it comes to flyfishing guides I have a rather critical eye.  He didn't work a clock, but gave his clients a day on the river that allowed them to appreciate a river for what it was; one of the world's most incredible rivers and fisheries.  If you fished with him often, he'd pull out his journal the night before you'd meet so he could relive previous experiences he had with you.  Evidence of his patience, skill, knowledge and unique qualities as a guide and human still roll of the tongues of those who have come to know this man.  As they say " they don't make them like they use to".  I probably feel that way  because of the fortunate relationship I have with the Big Guy and a personal bias, but having been around the block now a time or two, I know this to be true and I know there are others who feel the same. 

Needless to say, I think a lot of this man.  He's was and still is a great mentor to me, our staff, guides and others in this business. I am fortunate that for over 30 years to call him my friend, the Dean of the Green, the Big Guy.


Whitey 
by Steve Schmidt

I'll never forget our first customer at Western Rivers Flyfisher.   He was not what I would call our typical customer then or today.  In fact after I became more familiar with this great man, I'd say there was little anyone would find typical about him. Shortly before opening our doors in 1986, Emmett Heath and I were sprawled on the floor processing our inventory in preparation for our the Western Rivers Flyfishers grand opening.  A little after noon  this grizzled old man walks in the door; white unkempt hair under a well seasoned hat, white scraggly beard, and lines on his face and hands that showed a life of either hard work or spending a fair amount of time outside.   In fact, the photo of him here is pretty much how he looked the day he walked into our lives.   Maybe he looked a little younger, but not by much.

He saunters over to where Emmett and I are seated says hello and introduces himself as Art, then promptly asks if we're selling any of the fly tying materials that are spread upon the floor before us.  We explained that we weren't open just yet,  didn't have any cash or means of taking a credit card in order to perform a transaction.  He smiled,  said that wasn't a problem, he had cash and could make  the proper change for whatever his purchase might come to.  After we totaled up the items he selected, he pulled a wad of bills from his pocket, some spare coins and the rest his history.  Emmett, Dave and I  were in business.   Just a little sooner then we anticipated.

That man was Art "Whitey" Dittman; Utah legend, man extraordinaire  and a colorful character to say the least.  For you see Art wasn't just an accomplished flyfisher, which we never would have guessed at the time of this random early encounter, but he was also the  state's  marbles, chess, checkers and horseshoe champion.  He could also quite easily take a buck or two from you on a  billiard table or on the links. Looking at him, you'd never perceive him to be so accomplished, or as someone who had such a passion for fishing with flies or tying them. In his 70's Art could still add to the  wad of bills in his pocket through a friendly wager of horseshoes or billiards.  He could also short change you at the register if you weren't careful.  I used him to train my new employees.  Those sessions  always made for a good  laugh.  Art's no longer with us, he passed away in 1999, but stories of him still permeate the shop.  Those that I share with you here only scratch the surface of this wonderful mans life.  The "Coffee Crew" I'm sure could fill up an entire morning with stories of Art's legacy.

I first met Art on the Strawberry River.  Yet on that fateful day when our paths crossed  in our shop soon to be, I didn't recognize him. Previously we bumped into each other along the narrow path that runs juxtapose to the water at the bottom of the narrow Strawberry River canyon.  He smiled and introduced himself as Whitey.  After exchanging pleasantries, and listening to my struggles and sharing in those struggles, he gave me a few flies to try, yet several years would pass after we met in Western Rivers before I would realized that Art was Whitey; the old man I met on the Strawberry River.  

When Art was younger, he would get dropped off in Kamas and spend several weeks fishing and hunting in the Uinta's before being picked up at a designated location.  He took little in the way of supplies, or necessities, and pretty much lived off the land.   He was a true outdoorsman.  As a flyfisher, to his dying day, he was a student of the game, a consumate learner who loved to teach.  I remember just before he passed away he gave me "Art's Ten Commandments of Casting".  I still have the original pieces of paper he wrote these wise words upon. 

For over a decade  Art taught many of our casting classes and he was always coming up with incredibly creative ways to teach people that which he loved.  He could throw a fly line as effortlessly as anyone.  I remember when he was in his mid 70's when I watched him throw an entire fly line.   I had seen him do that many times, but as he got older to witness this feat with such ease was impressive.  He never did it to show off, just as a matter of fact. 

Like a cat, Art had a life or two live. He took ill shortly after we moved from 9th and 9th to our current location.  On our visits to see him the doctors felt that he wasn't long for this world, but to the doctors surprise the tough old guy pulled through and again took up residence in the fly shop.    Even after this he would on occasion head off to Vegas to play in pool tournaments, so when he was absent for a time one winter we didn't think much of him being gone.  A week or two went buy before he wandered into Western Rivers with a neck brace on.   He was crossing the street on a snowy day when he tripped on the curb, landing on his chin.  A nurse saw him seated on the curb, blood on his face and hands and asked him if he was ok.  Art replied, no I broke my neck.  She promptly took him to the VA.  When he arrived at the emergency room the nurse  asked him what he was there for, he again replied, "I broke my neck".   Sure enough, he had. 

In this business, you run into some really incredible and special people.  Whitey was one of them.  He had a laugh you'd never forget, the smile you see on his face in the photo was rarely not there.  This is the only photo I could find of him, but it's all I need to conger up a lot of great memories of this grizzled old man who is still very much a part of the fabric of Western Rivers Flyfisher.  

 

Arts 10 Commandments of Casting: 

1. Start with rod low, parallel to the ground or water, or lower.
2. Every cast starts with a pulling action
3. A long pull will end with a short whump or power stroke then abrupt stop of the motion
4. As the line goes behind you drift with the rod after the stop back.  Long cast long drift, short cast short drift
5. Begin the forward cast when the leader and a little of the line are still in the loop
6. Start forward with a pulling action (this is the best way of loading the rod) followed by steps 4 & 5.
7. Pull past your face to avoid tailing loops and other casting problems
8. To finish the forward or back cast  end with a nice crisp stop
9. Aim your cast towards and away from your target
10. Lower rod as the line settles onto the water, catch a fish
PS: Keep rod tip on the same elevation on pull and power phase of the cast

 

Where it all began:
by Steve Schmidt

I've got an old print of this Throwback photo in the office at Western Rivers.  For those of you who have stuck your head in or grabbed a seat in shop office  I doubt that you've noticed it on the top of the back shelf.   It's not like it's prominently displayed.  In going through my stacks of old slides for this project I gratefully came across the original image.  I scanned it just to have a digital impression of this memorable 1984 gathering at  with some of my best friends.  While in the process I realized that these guys, the places we fished, and fly shops we came to know all played a rather significant role in the evolution of the shop. 

For those wondering the photo was taken at the head of Box Canyon on the Henry's Fork in late October.  Back then it use to get cold, in fact I remember quite cold.  For the most part we we'd base out of Bakers Hole on the Madison.   Emmett Heath, Ellis and Corkie would spend the entire month camped there.  Most mornings if we begin with a short walk to the river to thaw our boots out so we could get them on.   It was a rare day when your guides weren't frozen by the second or third cast and they  weren't iced up all day long.  

Not to belabor the point, but the cold back then was very impressionable.  I remember my Zonkers hitting the water as a frozen mass just after a few false casts.  Since my life revolves around peanut butter,  unless we put it  or our other eatables in Ellis's motor home they'd  be too frozen to eat. And with Bakers Hole being a haven for bears you weren't allowed to camp in tents. By the time we'd head home I recall there being several inches of ice layered  on the underside of the trucks shell from the condensations we'd put off during the night.  I think you get the idea.

These trips were all about streamer fishing in the rising mist of rivers that flowed through frozen landscapes.   Emmett picked October, being the savant that he was, because that's when the big Browns would migrate from Hebgen Lake up into the park.  Once in a while we'd leave Bakers Hole to fish Blue Wings  on the Madison at 9 or 7 Mile in, or wander as we did on this day to check out the Box Canyon.   In October the Henry's Fork rainbows would stack up in the first mile of the river below Island Park Dam.  The rainbows were big, the fishing was good, yet it was rare to see another angler enjoying this late season fishing.  The Park was that way too, but for those who now visit Yellowstone in the late fall, it's a rare day when you can have these fabled waters to yourself. 

 In the late 70's and 80's this crew: Targett, Gordie, Emmett, Ellis, Scooter and Corkie were my fishing buddies.  To give you a sense of whose who, Corkie's the one tippin back the last of the Yukon Jack, but not before it had made the rounds.  I laugh looking at all the patches on the Seal Dri waders, the Cortland vests, the Stroh's beers, all now things of the past.   Corkie, because he had arthritis had one of the first early pairs of neoprene waters, James Scott waders as I recall. We fished a lot of waters together, and wandered into some of the west most iconic fly shops in the process: Bud Lilly's, Dan Bailey's, Craig Mathews Blue Ribbon Flies, Terry Rings Silver Creek Sports, Will Godfrey's North Fork Anglers and Mike Lawson's Henry's Fork Anglers.  Other than North Fork Anglers, these shops are still today providing a  unique service and a place where fly fishers congregate. Although we spent most of our time on the water, these fly shops are where the seed that grew into Western Rivers Flyfisher was planted.   I'd have to give credence to the North Fork Anglers for having the biggest impression. 

 We all miss those days now that we have families and jobs.  How could you not.  We had some great adventures together during the 70's and 80's.  We fished a lot and we definitely had a lot of fun!   We were fortunate to live such a life that let us fish and wander as we did in pursuit of that which we were all so passionate about.   And through those adventures we began to think about a fly-fishing life, one that I took to heart and I'm thankfully still living today. 

 As a side note, Corkie rolled down the hill after finishing off the bottle of YK all they way to the water.  He tried to blame the incident on his arthritis and the cold, but  I think you can tell by the look on Scooter's face that Corkie was taking more than just a little pull from the bottle.  Corkie always seemed to have a flare for the dramatic.  The last trip he joined Emmett and I on his truck caught fire in front of my house as we were getting ready to leave.  We put the fire out, and all jumped into my old 72' Ford pick up and headed to the Henry's Fork.  Don't get me started….


The HatCirca 1980
by Steve Schmidt

If you fish you have hats.  Hats for fishing, worn out hats from fishing,  and then there is that growing pile of hats that remind you of place and time you don't want tot let go of.  The ones your significant other wishes you'd discard.  My old Resistol is one of those hats, one that I still have, yet one that these days just keeps a peg in my house company.   Over the years of serving me quite well it's earned that. 

I remember taking this photo like it was yesterday.  It was in the late 80's at the take out below a place we fondly knew as Seaton Camp.  I helped build this steelhead camp back in 1986, the same year I started Western Rivers Flyfisher after returning home from that incredible fall experience in BC.   The two Bulkley Mice, one tan, one black, that adorn the greasy hat band became permanent additions in 1986.  The steelhead pin would become a fixture a little later. 

That fall of 86 I was fortunate to guide a group who lived in the east; Stan, Marty, and Giorgio in particular.  Giorgio was probably one of the best dry fly steeheaders I've ever fished with.  I learned a lot from this guy.   I remember our last day together we were paired with this ass who kept accusing me of putting Giorgio in all the buckets, when in fact he got all the buckets that day.  The problem was this guy couldn't fish, had no MoJo and he just happened to be paired with a guy who had all these qualities who made him look like the fool that he was.   Giorgio fished shit water that day, which I let him know in advance, and he still had a 5 fish day.  Our disgruntled companion for the day managed a big fat zero.  It was well deserved. 

Marty was a decent stick and he'd had a good week, but going into our last day poor Stan still hadn't caught a steelhead. If you fish for these fish you've been on that receiving end and know full well what it feels like to be in that situation.  It happens to us all, but in this particular circumstance for Stan his misfortunes carried more of a burden.

Stan pulled me aside that final morning at breakfast and said he wanted to go out with me for the day.  We'd already spent a day together, and I really enjoyed this kind old gentleman.  With Giorgio now out of the equation; fishing was so good he left early to be with his girlfriend, it would just be Stan and I.  Although I wouldn't have called myself a seasoned steelheader at this point in my life, I know enough to understand that the more you want one of these fish, the harder they are to come by.    Going into the day, I understood this all too well. 

Like the photo of the hat, I remember the day well.  Before lunch Stan hooked a big fish, one that he struggled to handle.  At his age he simply wasn't strong or agile enough to put much pressure on the steelhead, yet I had hope.   After a long fight, it came unbuttoned.  I buried my face in my hands, the weight of the burden becoming more pressing.  In the morning sun we stat down to contemplate our misfortune and the opportunity lost.  As we got up, Stan turned to me and made an emotional request.  Before heading home he wanted just one steelhead, no more.   Given his age, I knew this would be a trip he'd probably not do again.  I believe he did as well.  

In the next piece of water,  Indian Summer, with much relief Stan caught his fish.  After tailing it, I carefully handed the fish to him to hold for a photo and to give him the opportunity to feel what it's like to have one of these incredible fish in ones hand.  After he let it go,  with tears in his eyes, he walked over and gave me a hug.  It was a special moment, one in life I'll never forget and one now that I'm getting older becomes even more meaningful.  

But, there's more to this story.  Remember the pin?  We'll in the summer of 87 Stan sent me that gold pin in memory of that day, and that moment that we shared.    Unfortunately, the pin no longer sits in that old hat.  The day I returned home from putting my dad to rest and settling his affairs  someone broke into our house.  Upon first inspection it appeared they didn't get much that was worth getting riled up about. Several months later I realized that by happenstance they ended up with the first nice reel I ever bought myself.  It was an old Hardy Marquis.  Several more months passed when in the middle of the night I woke realizing they'd gotten my steelhead box.  That was pretty devastating, especially since the bulk of the flies in the box I'd tied and knowing they had no use for any of them.   Several years had passed before I noticed that the gold pin was missing from my hat.  I stared at the small black dot in the center of the hat where the pin once was in utter disbelief when I made that discovery.

I remember looking through my old photo's for this Throwback project and coming upon this photo.  There were a lot of mixed emotions that came out when I saw the photo of my old hat with the pin.   At first the anger from it's loss takes hold, but as time has passed the bitterness has subsided some, and the memory of a very kind man, and the day we shared together rises just as Stan's one steelhead did to take his dry fly on that very memorable day. 



The Birth of Destination travel: 1988: Belize  
by Steve Schmidt

When Western Rivers Flyfisher opened it’s doors in 1987 Steve felt that travel should be an integral part of the brand.   It didn’t take him long to put his first trip together.  In the spring of 1988 he organized his inaugural destination travel trip to Belize.  There’s a lot that goes into this particular trip, so bear with us while the story unfolds.  

For starters the lodge owner offered Steve a rather nice introductory package if he’d make the trip, but Steve wasn’t comfortable with going it alone so he invited some of his friends; Dave Hall, Dick and his son Jon Hodge to join him on this inaugural adventure into saltwater fly-fishing.  Although at the time there were only 3 spots open, he was led to believe that they’d make it work with Steve even though he was now a “third wheel” so to speak. 

After catching a nap in the airport having just gotten off the Red Eye from Salt Lake, they wandered down to their gate only to find another shop with it’s group huddled around a box of salt water flies also heading to the same destination.  After doing this for 29 years this seems to be a rather common occurrence.  To top it off Steve happened to know the shop owner.  He was gracious enough to sit down with Steve prior to opening Western Rivers and give him some great advise.  As they say small world. 

So here we are seated on the steps of our hotel in Belize City before taking a rather sketchy boat ride out to the Turneffe Island Atoll.  The cloths that Steve is wearing is all that he had to wear for his entire trip; none of his luggage ever made it.  After he got home, his wife informed him that it showed up on his front porch just hours after he left for Belize.  And to some degree that was just the start of the adventure. 
Upon arriving and after being introduced to several Belizean drinks call “Fluffs”  Steve soon found out from the Lodge manager that someone from his group would be sitting dock side each day while the others went fishing. So other than a half day out, Steve for the week sat on the beach and waited daily for a pair of permit to come by as the tide rose.  Needless to say, he never caught either of them. 

All said and done it was an incredible trip.  How could it not be. Each days started with coffee on your deck, which you enjoyed while the sun rose over the emerald seas that spread before you.  Everyday should start that way. We had a blast and had Steve gone fishing every day the trip wouldn’t have near the stories or necessarily would it have been any better.  Western Rivers and Steve’s crew have learned a lot from their travels around the globe chasing fish with their fly rod.  For all that went not quite right on the trip, traveling with a fly rod is an adventure and regardless of what that adventure may throw at you, it’s one worth experiencing.   Ya gotta to love the hats? Right…..wow. 

Fly Fishing Stories & Pictures | Western Rivers Fly Fisher

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