S3:E38 Fly Fishing for Brookies

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Fly fishing for brookies is one of the great joys of life. In this episode, we regale each other with stories of fly fishing for brookies and also discuss a study from the Minnesota DNR about whether brown trout are crowding out the native brook trout population in the Driftless. We wrap up our conversation with some tips for catching even more of these Great Wonders of the world.

Listen now to “Fly Fishing for Brookies”

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

We’d love to hear a story about the largest brook trout you’ve caught! Please post your comments below.


By the way, we’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

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The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

One person who purchased the book called it “cliffsnotes for fly fishers.”

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $15.99!

S2:E12 The Promise of Fall Fly Fishing

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Fall fly fishing – is there a better time of year to fish? The crowds are thinner. Many summer fly fishers replace their fly rods with bows, shotguns, and rifles. They become hunters. Yea! Fall fly fishing promises warm days and cool nights. Listen to Fall Fly Fishing now and expect great things this fall!

Listen to our episode “Fall Fly Fishing” now

At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” We read a few of the comments from this blog or from our Facebook page. We enjoying hearing from our readers and listeners, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experience.

Where are you planning to go for fall fly fishing? What do you love most about fly fishing in the fall?

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.”

Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River2 Guys and A River

View some of our most recent podcast episodes on iTunes or on Stitcher, if you have an Android.

Rate the 2 Guys Podcast

We’d love for you to rate our podcast on iTunes.

That helps fellow fly fishers decide whether the podcast is a good fit for them.

Why Great Days on the Water Are Hard to Remember

Great days on the water are hard to remember. They just are. Last summer, Dave and I had one of our best days ever on the water. A friend invited us to fish a creek in a remote area of Montana. We fished a stretch that meandered through a large ranch, miles from any fishing access. In recent years, the ranch owners have allowed few people to fish on their property. They have saved it for veterans, particularly wounded warriors.

But thanks to our friend, Dave and I were invited to spend a day on the creek.

Slow to Crazy

The day began slow, with a trico hatch that, as Dave said, “I just didn’t have the energy to fish.” Tricos are so small, and we came prepared to fish terrestrials, the big bugs. This was one of the last days of July, and it was warm. The creek was small, but we wore waders, in case we stumbled across a sunning rattlesnake.

About mid morning, the trout began to rise to hoppers – and just about anything else that was big and floated. And they never stopped. By mid-afternoon, Dave and I had each landed over forty trout apiece. They were mostly browns and rainbows, most in the 14-16 inch range. We also landed a few brookies and a couple West Slope Cutthroat.

The crazy thing is that I can’t recall any particular fish I caught. That’s unusual. I usually remember the 17-inch brown that emerged from an undercut bank to attack my hopper pattern. Or the 16-inch rainbow that darted to the surface to snatch a Royal Trude as it drifted by a rock. However, I don’t remember anything like that. I have a couple photos of rainbows I caught. Both are striking fish with their crimson stripes against their dark bodies. But I don’t recall catching either one of them.

Great Days on the Water and Angler’s Amnesia

So why do I seem to have angler’s amnesia when it comes to those fish? I have some theories:

First, I think my inability to remember a particular fish was due in part to sensory overload. Catching 40+ fish is an exhilarating experience. I highly recommend it, and I would love to do it again. But the more fish you catch, the less any particular fish leaves an indelible mark on your memory. Maybe that’s the beauty of days when you catch only a half-dozen fish, and one of them is a plump nineteen-incher. I caught a rainbow trout like that a decade ago between Quake and Hebgen Lake. I fished all morning and only caught one other trout. Oddly enough, I remember that fish vividly, while 40+ trout I caught a few months ago have seemingly vanished from my memory.

Second, I think the surroundings had something to do with my case of angler’s amnesia.

I was more captivated by what I saw around me than I was by any particular fish. What I remember from that day is landing a trout right under the railroad trestle where a scene from “A River Runs Through It” was filmed, where Jessie drives her Model T through a tunnel with Norman hanging on for his life in the passenger seat. I also remember the sight of an old trapper’s cabin. And then there was the railroad bed over which the Ringling Brothers used to haul their circus equipment to their ranch for winter storage. The two railroad tunnels were stunning, too.

Third, I think the human imagination struggles to preserve sharp images of what moves us most, including our most poignant memories.

A few miles from the ranch where Dave and I had our banner day, the south fork of the little creek we fished curls by a knoll on which a sheepherder’s cabin is perched. Western writer extraordinaire, Ivan Doig, was in the cabin on his sixth birthday with his parents when his mother took her last breath.

Asthma claimed her life.

Doig writes about his struggle to remember the event in a haunting sentence near the beginning of his memoir, This House of Sky:

    Through the time since, I reach back along my father’s tellings and around the urgings which have me face about and forget, to feel into those oldest shadows for the first sudden edge of it all.

Every momentous event in life is a bit like that for me. I try reach around the photos or the accounts of family members in an attempt to relive memories which are trying to elude me.

Beautiful Memory Loss

So the next time you have an unforgettable day but forget the details, be assured that you’re not experiencing memory loss. You might simply have sensory overload. Or maybe your day was full scenery or experiences more remarkable than the fish you caught. Or maybe it’s the common human struggle to recall vivid images of life’s most momentous events.

Whatever the case, your inability to remember the fish you caught adds to the mystique of your experience and makes it unforgettable.

Keeping Monster Trout on the Line

I’ve lost my share of big trout. There, I admitted it. I’m weeping as I write this. Okay, not really. But I remember feeling sick a few times when I let a monster trout get away. There was the day when my sixth-grade son hooked a monster brown on a size #18 red brassie. I urged him not to panic, but apparently I did. I hurried towards the fish with my net, and it made its escape by wrapping the leader around my leg and snapping off the fly from the tippet.

Thankfully, I have not let all the big ones get away. I’ve landed my share of large trout, too. Here are four tips for keeping monster trout on the line:

1. Moisturize the knot you are tying.

That’s a nice way saying, wet the knot with your spit. Saliva will not weaken your leader material. It will prevent it from losing its strength.

When you pull monofilament tight, the friction creates heat that can weaken the knot or the line around it. So put the knot it your mouth to moisten it before you pull it tight.

2. Keep your line tight.

A fly fishing friends signs off on his emails with “Tight lines.”

It took me a while to figure out why that’s such good advice. Slack in your line makes it easier for a hook to slip out of a trout’s mouth or for the trout to shake it free — whether you have a 22-inch rainbow or an eight-inch brookie.

The most vulnerable time, perhaps, is right after you hook a fish.

You want to reel in the extra line, and that’s important. But keep the line tight while you’re reeling in the extra line. Once you’ve done that, the fish will be working against your rod, and you can adjust the drag setting on your reel to allow for more or less tension.

So how do you keep the line tight while you are reeling in the excess? It’s not that difficult to do when you try it, but it’s maddening to try to explain with words!

So practice while someone is holding your line. Or tie it to your leader to a porch railing or your child’s tricycle (but not to your black lab’s collar unless you have a lot of backing!). You can figure it out from there.

3. Practice “home field advantage.”

Your home field is the run in which you’re fishing or the shallow water near the shore. The trout’s home field is an undercut bank, particularly if there is a log nearby. So don’t let the trout head to its lair. Pull it sideways to keep it in the area where you can handle it. If you can get it into the shallow water near the shore, that’s all the better.

4. Guide the trout into your net.

An old adage says that most accidents happen at or near home. That’s true for landing trout. It’s when you get the trout near your net that the danger of losing it increases. So don’t go stabbing at it with your net! Lift your rod and pull it into the net. Don’t bother swiping at the trout with your net.

Also, if at first you don’t succeed, try again. If the trout suddenly darts away from the net, just keep it in front of you and bring it in for another attempt at landing it.