A 9’6” Fly Rod Is The Perfect Social Distance

This Covid 19 (which is a great name for a highend reel) has and will change our lives for a while unfortunantly. We have involuntarily become a nation of mask wearing germaphobes; scared of anyone we don’t know personally. We avoiding touching anything that may have been fondled by “that guy” and we tuck and roll away from anyone that clears their throat. The funny part is, I am totally good with it. I’ve never been a fan of close talkers, who are overly enthusiastic conversationalist that spit their words. I am also pleased that I have a free-pass on not having to fist bump people I don’t want to or even worse, bro hug. This is newest, freshest kind of expected antisocial behavior I’ve been longing for, it’s fantastic!  A harsh POV, I know, but pretty apt.

So, you may be asking yourselves, what does this have to do with anything remotely resembling the topic of fly fishing? 

Let me answer that with one simple fly fishermen’s reality and a value we all, by design, share, we “social distance” as sport. We actually like being by ourselves. Think of your last road trip to the river? Admit it, even if you and your 3 best buds arrived to the river in one car, you bolted to your own spot “just down there around the bend, find me if you need me” kind of spot (and liked it).

Historically, fly fishing is the best activity, the best way, the most quietly independent, soulful thing to do to let the world wash by us. It allows you to forget that the world is burning, it allows you to deeply care only about the 50′ stretch of flat water with sippers right in front of you. My reality of social distancing is that if I can cast a decent line and hit the eddy you are creating, you are entirely too close. 

This pandemic has taken us all by surprise, but I’m not all that shocked. As a whole, we as a society have taken pretty much everything for granted, we maintain the mindset, ”Naw, that won’t happen here or to me, I’m not at all worried,” Well are you worried now? 

This “new normal” is a much needed learning experience, a reality check of sort. 

I would love to give you some real life examples that may not have directly touched you, but in fact, created massive losses of a different sort of life.

Remember whirling disease? Myxospolus Celebralis? The parasite that killed all the juvenile rainbow trout? It was devastating. It was spread to different rivers carried in damp felt soled waders or unchecked hatchery stocking procedures and/or other human driven methods. It wiped out countless fish. The solution was equally tragic, hatcheries had to dispose (kill) of all the fingerlings to curtail the spread of the disease. (Sounds all to familiar except for the culling of the population)

Just for fun, 

I was also reminded of another variation and threat that affects our waters that was in today’s newspaper. Wait for it…..The introduction of invasive fresh water muscles! When introduced it becomes a destructive, almost impossible plight in fresh water lakes. Remember, none of this is not done by malicious intentions, it all happened because of just not knowing better or not taking precautions until it’s too late. But we have the power to make good choices.

On a side note, I am a little disappointed that I haven’t had to deal with any “Killer Hornets” I wanted to be part of that!

In short, all of this should not be a deterrent to getting out and enjoying the fabulous out of doors and chasing trout. We simply have to be a bit more aware and diligent.

I know there are doubters out there and some who believe it’s a hoax, Just say’n, it’s not. All that needs to happen is just a few things that I think might make this all more bearable and hopefully curtail some risks;

  1. If you are chatting somewhere or you want to talk on the river or the shop, stay a good 9’6 fly rod distance away. Don’t be shy and put this method to the test, poke at them at will.
  1. As far as masks are concerned…Wear your BUFF, They are always badass, they look cool and you wear it anyway. Remember, keep it pulled up in full-on guide fashion and keep it there, Especially if you are closer than a rod length of somebody. 
  1. Wash your hand in the river if you have any intention of touching people. The added benefit is that when cars pass by, the occupants will think your just released a fish, it’s a win-win!
  1. Be nice out there. We are all involved in this, some others may or may not be freaking out. That’s ok, but if it bugs you, move 2 or 3 rod lengths away and act like the river flow is too loud to hear them. This method has work for me for years.
  1. Keep sanitizer in the car. Really, it’s no big deal, also I believe that straight-up vodka works, but don’t hold me to it. 

Lastly, before I step off of my soapbox aka my YETI cooler, I have forgotten to mention something important, I am not an expert in Emerging Infectious Diseases nor am I Doctor, but I do believe in precautions, preparation and being aware if risks, no matter how big or small they might be. 

As a reminder, it is in everyones best interest that if you don’t buy into all this covid stuff and claim that you know better because you got the information off of social media or from that guy at the gun-shop or a talking-head newscasters/radio personality, stay quiet. Unless your sources have a ton of letters after their name, what you are spouting it just unproven hearsay.

Let all do our best to be good people and better sportsmen and sportswomen and most importantly, Don’t hate!

Tight Lines

Guide Glenn Smith

Be Safe Out There! 20 things to Expect and Un-expect while Fly Fishing.

MbJUSTf7RXCFN3KI7onWBwJust reading the title of this article, I know what you’re thinking, nothing will happen to me, It’s Fly fishing! That may be true for most of us to a point, but trust me when i say, some of the wildest things happen in the most unusual situations.

As a Fly Fishing Guide for over 2 decades, I have seen my share of the unexpected.

I thought it would be helpful to share with y’all what you can, or should do if something were to happen to you on your adventure or at least give you some food for thought before you head out into the wild unknown.

Also, as a disclaimer, I am not a medical professional, nor am I an expert in outdoor survival and I claim not to be… But what I can do is give you my “in the field and on the water” experiences that I have learned from and share that with you, So he we go!

  1. Before you even decide to drive to the river or your favorite run, make sure you have gas in the car, water to drink and let someone know where you’re going. You don’t need to be exact, but at least which river. This is not only for your safety but in case you need to be found for some other reasons.
  2. Be prepared for anything. In Colorado, my home sweet home, you never can underestimate the weather, it can change on a dime, from beautiful bluebird skies in the morning to thunder and lightning or even snow in the afternoon. Take warm clothes and good rain-gear. these things takes up little room and pays for itself the first downpour when the fish start rising.
  3. Make sure you do some research on the water you’re heading to: Such as, Is it a tailwater of freestone river? What’s the water temp? Is the bottom slick or mossy, rocky or silty? What’s the flow? Should I take a staff or have cleats? Do I need waders or can I wet wade? Is it buggy? (not our kind of bugs but the annoying kind)
  4. Bring a snack always! Trust me, you’re not going home sooner that you think especially if the hatch goin off.
  5. Have all your paperwork in order. License is up to date, both of them, fishing and drivers.
  6. Check that you have ALL your gear; waders, boots, vest, bags, nets, boxes, all the things you need or don’t, Just bring it. I have been with clients that refuse to get dressed up at the shop only to find out 10 miles up the river they are missing a boot that fell out in the hotel room when they were bragging about their new “killer pattern”to show their fishing buddies after a couple of beers. It happens. Also alway bring and use your net, period.
  7. When you are heading to your secret spot, don’t become road blind and just focus on the river and ignore others on the road, you would be surprised how may bicyclist, walkers or animals nearly get hit by fishermen NOT paying attention to the road.
  8. When you find your water, don’t get upset if someone else is in it. Don’t get territorial, don’t get all angry. If you are a well seasoned angler, find another spot, truthfully, there are fish everywhere if you know where to look.
  9. When wading through the water, be always cautious and walk flat-footed if possible. The riverbed is inconsistent at best, it can catch your toes of your boots and trip you up, rocks move and slide and are generally unstable. Another thing is branches drift and hit you in the shins, dangerous. You never know, so be respectful of the unknown.
  10. Never put yourself or others in danger because you want to get to “that killer hole over there” that happens to be across fast or uncertain currents. Trust me, IT IS NOT WORTH IT! I know a guy that took a terrifying A River Runs Through It sweep down the river, out of control, near fatal risk just because of a sipping trout out of his reach that wasn’t “all that”.
  11. In that same vein, if you do fall in the river, stay calm and in control, try to work towards the bank at all cost. You may get really wet, lose your stuff, break your rod…so what! Stay alive!
  12. Always keep a pretty good medical/first-aide kit with you. Again, more likely than not, nothing will happen but you do never know. I had a trip with a father and his 11-year-old daughter, it was going really well. We walked to the river through some brush and trees, we waded in the river and dropped a line, perfect, for a while. 20 minutes into our first stop, the young girls hands started to swell up and turn beet red, she was freaking out. I asked the dad if she had any allergies, he didn’t think so but, she obviously did. Luckily we had some Benadryl that the father administered, thank god and the trooper of a girl calmed down, all went beck to normal. It would have been a whole different story otherwise.
  13. This is going to sound harsh, make sure you only bite off what you can chew. What I mean by that is don’t try do more than you are capable or willing to do. If you are out of shape and a scenic overlook is your idea of a good hike, don’t go into the back country that can cause you injury of a heart-attack! Don’t try to be a hero unless you are prepared to do so. It is “just fishing” but it is also “just hiking” says the guy who climbs a 14er for fun.
  14. Put anything valuable in a safe place. Despite all of your high-tech gear is waterproof it is not impervious. Remember, there is one big hole in your waders, it’s at the top, think about it.
  15. Wear sunscreen, hat, sunglasses and always keep your shirt on. Save that for your Bass or cat fishing trip.
  16. If you hook yourself, what should you do. If its barbless, as it should be, pull it out, dress it and get back fishing. If it is in a vital are aka your eye, seek immediate attention and continuously ask yourself why wasn’t I wearing my sunglasses. If you are hooked with a barbed hook, there are tricks to getting it out. Go on YouTube check it out but I recommend getting your butt to a clinic have it removed then drink a beer.
  17. Lightning and adverse weather. Get over it, get out of the water with your 9 foot lightning rod, sit in the car, wait it out or head out. Your vacation is not ruined, drive around look for those spots that were packed with anglers and are now empty because there fair weather warriors are all gone, the river is yours!
  18. Your friend gets hurt: Help them, if they’re fine, suggest they take a break, give them a Snickers bar resume fishing. If they are really hurt, don’t be a dick, get them help and help them create a really good story.
  19. You get into a tiff with another fisherman: So imagine you’re working a run from the bottom and someone steps in right above you and screws up your entire plan and the run, what are you going to do? This happens a lot, knowingly and by accident. Yes it is rude, are you going to get in a fight over it? Have some choice words then flip then off? Just walk away and mutter under you breath? Well that’s up to you I guess but nothing changes the mood of fishing more than anger. So let it go, most the time, people who do that either don’t realize you’re there of they are newbies and need to be educated about river etiquette, so educate them. Other times they’re just A-holes and will never learn. (fact is, those people usually are fishing hacks, so move to the next hole, within the sight, catch fish while they’re not, all is good in the hood.)
  20. The fish aren’t eating and you’re frustrated: Get over it, enjoy being outside then try again another time. I have said to my clients for many, many years, “Remember that there are two living things on each end of the line, only one of them is in control”

 

I know that this blog post may only have scratched the surface of the countless variables that doing an activity like fly fishing that takes place uncontrolled environs, but alway be careful, diligent and aware. It’s very similar to taking a vacation to New York City

Tight Lines as we say,

Guide Glenn Smith

glennonthefly.com

6 Things To Do Before You Cast A fly.

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We, as humans, inherently are impatient. Remember the time while you were sitting at the stop light and the light turns green and the car in front of you didn’t move as quickly as you thought it should have? Or that time you were at Starbucks and the customer in front of you hadn’t made their drink decision by the time they reached the counter? How did you feel? Stressed? Angry?

What’s important in these examples is that, why were you getting bothered? More importantly, even before those incidences happened you were ALREADY preparing to be bothered. You were locked and loaded with frustration waiting for a reason to get rattled. You’re thinking, what does this have to do with fly fishing? In my opinion, everything.

It has to do with expectations, what you believe should happen. You hit the river with expectations about how many fish to catch, that your favorite hole will always be open, you’re only going to fish dry flies, so on and so fourth. Fact is, none of those things are in your control. What is in your control is that you know you’re going fishing, that’s it…unless there is a car in front of you refusing to drive fast enough, you may be late…

What I want to offer is simple 6 things that will make your day on the river perfect, before you wet a fly:

1) Be thorough; Just take the time to look at your stuff and take inventory. Look in the box and see what flies you have and what flies you need. Make sure you have everything you need for a day out on the water.

2) Ask questions and be open minded; Be the guy that comes in the fly shop that the shop guys are happy to see and the guides want to talk to. Leave the fishing ego and stories at home.

3) Don’t run to the water; I have seen it a million times, people race up the road and jump out of the car to be the first on the river. Staking out territory is, unfortunately, a residual effect of more anglers on the water, but it is unnecessary. There is always some place to fish, be open to new water, it might be a new great spot.

4) Look up; Every fisherman, I think, is to eager to start casting. Take time to watch for birds, Where they are? Are they high or low? Are they feeding? What there eating? This can tell you a lot and give you great information. If the birds are high, you are best nymphing. If they are low, a hatch is starting and that’s a great thing.

5) Make and take time; Notice everything…the trees, rocks, the weather, the weeds, the colors and the smells…all of this adds to your experience. Most importantly, it’s why we are out there.

6) Remember; Remember that you work hard, remember the chores you still have to complete, remember that we are lucky and that a fish eating our flies is a gift. So remember to remember.

If you add these tips to your day and learn to expect nothing, you may find that you will always have the best day ever.

Tight Lines

Guide Glenn Smith

The Day I Remembered to Look Up

When you are out on the river fly fishing, casting, drifting and setting the hook are only a few of the things that need your undivided attention; but what is most important is to remember exactly where you are.

Tight Lines, Glenn

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Lesson Learned, When A Guide Gets Guided.

Montana Float

When a client walks into my shop Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt, I greet them with a “how’s it going, ready to catch some fish?”, make some small talk, get them “wadered” up and load ’em up in my truck to take them fly fishing. This is just business as usual, an everyday ritual. I will be the first to admit that it is easy to take all stuff, the ceremony of this for granted. I am here to tell you first hand, that I have learned a valuable lesson as of late; I do not underestimate the importance of what this day on the river might mean to these clients or shall I say, my guests.

Allow me to back track a week or two:

I just had my birthday at the beginning of September…thank you, and the opportunity came up for me to take a trip to Bozeman, Montana with my beautiful bride to be. If you don’t’ know, Bozeman is theoretically the the center of the fly fishing universe, it is a pilgrimage, a fisherman’s right of passage. I never have been there and was very excited to go. I wanted to earn my stripes.

When the dates of our trip were solidified, I started two weeks in advance to line up a guide, I started to buy bugs from my shop that would be unique enough to impress my guide and have some out of state special sauce that might just be the ticket for those legendary Brown trout and Rainbows from that Big Sky state. I spent time, a lot of time, going though my gear, getting rid of the things that I didn’t need and getting doubles of what I did need. Tippet, leaders, Dry Shake, Hoppers, Mice, Ants, everything. I made sure I had all the bugs I was told by my friends, clients and guides that have been there. I was very excited.

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At my shop, we have a great guy named Rich that lived in Montana, (in his truck, perfect) for a couple of years and offered to mark out his favorite places on a Rand McNally map of where that he love to fish, with add commentary stating “classic scenery with an old barn in field” or “fish the island loaded with Hogs…”. I’m not sure if that was exactly his wording but you get the drift.

I was thrilled to have his insight and a taste of a locals intel.

When the time came for us to catch our very early flight out of Aspen, I looked like a guy taking a fly fishing trip, somewhere else. I had my rod case in hand and made sure I didn’t let it out of my sight, ever. I checked all my gear, twice. I called the guide I hired to let him know that we were still on our way and I would hit him up when we got into town just to confirm that we were good to go. We went straight from the airport to the fly shop to get our licenses just to that out of the way, done and done!

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The point of this article has nothing to do with my fishing trip in Montana, which was epic BTW, but everything to do with being a engaged, hard working, understanding as a working professional fishing guide.

Now that I have been on the receiving end of the service I offer I now I meet my clients that booked their trip with me, as if they were as excited and prepared for their day with me as I was, when I first met my guide, Brett Seng at 6:30 in the morning in front of Rivers Edge Fly Shop in Bozeman. I was absolutely giddy, in the most macho way possible of course. By the way, Brett is the BOMB, hit the link and look him up…

I have seen a number of guides treat the day of work as a day of work. Get in, get out, done. Trust me, I have felt that way from time to time, especially at the end of season, we can get a bit “crispy”… but I am doing my best to remember, I have know idea of my clients story, I don’t know if they are excited to be out there or if it was just a lark to try fly fishing or if this is a fulfillment of a chance to fish in the Roaring Fork Valley. But what I do know, is what I felt when I was a client and not the guide and how everything was memorable. So whatever you do for a living, what you do will always be someones fond memory.

Sweet Brown

As we say, keep those line tight,

Glenn

Be sure to follow me @artofflyfishing on Twitter and Instagram

Guide Tips via Twitter

Throughout this summer I have been posting fly fishing tips and tricks in short form on Twitter. What I have learned in the exercise is that why use 7 words when 4 will do.

It is easy to get caught up in listening to yourself talk when you are perceived as an expert at anything. Twitter does not allow the luxury…and I kind of liked that.

So here is a series of Glenn and The Art Of Fly Fishing guide tips that I have recently posted. If you enjoy them and find them useful, please share them with the troutbum in your life and follow me @artofflyfishing on Twitter.

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