Month: December 2017

For much of the past two years, we’ve been on our River Ramble, exploring trout streams across the USA.  All total, we’ve been on this journey for 487 days and have visited TU Greatest 100 trout streams in 26 different states.  In fact, we’ve now fished 95 of the Top 100 streams and 149 different trout streams in all.  I know what you’re thinking, you’re still 5 short, and indeed we are.  There is one more state we’ve yet to visit, Alaska.  While we are looking forward and already deep into planning our Alaska adventure to fish the final 5 (and a few more of course) of the TU 100, we wanted to take a moment to look back on this past two years.

As we’ve continued to discover, Its Not About the Fish…. its about the people we continue to meet along our Ramble.  We’ve been blessed to have fished with some of the best guides in the world on the best trout streams in the world.  In small villages and communities, we’ve met some great local fly shop owners and staff who’ve sent us to some off the beaten path fisheries that, while not TU Top 100 streams, easily could have been.  What we’ve enjoyed most have been guides, shop owners and community members who’ve befriended us, shared their stories with us and allowed us to see the rivers through their eyes and experiences.  We feel so lucky to have met each and every one.

Our tagline for our blog, “Fly fishing, food, friends and fun” has been just that.  We’ve sampled more than a few local brews, pubs, diners and dives along the way.  We’ve also had a great time visiting family and friends in Arizona, Indiana, Missouri and Montana…. rafting, zip lining, pickle ball, baseball, hiking and of course, fishing too.

Our “mothership”, the SaraLinda, has performed like a champ, taking us nearly 35,000 miles along this journey.  We’ve camped in state forests, state parks, national parks, Corps of Engineers campgrounds and even dry camped in amazing, remote locations.  The 180 sq. ft. we’ve been living in is dwarfed by the incredible outdoor expanse we’ve called home these two years.  Our backyards have been the Tetons, Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains, Appalachian Trail, Maine wilderness and stream side campgrounds in most every state we visited.

2016 was a great year and we posted up a “Year in Review” video for it last December.  We’ll be fishing numerous streams across the country in 2018 as well as the streams we’ll fish in Alaska, but for now, we wanted to share a look back at 2017.   We hope you enjoy this short music video and a few highlights from our 2017 River Ramble.

Fly Dogs II


As we settle in for the holidays, one of the things we’re always thankful for are the furry friends who we meet in fly shops and who often accompany us as we go fishing.  Last year we celebrated them with a “Fly Dogs” post and we’re reprising it again in our 2017 edition, Fly Dogs II.  We ran into many beautiful canines on our Ramble this year, but we decided to highlight these five.

We always love it when we walk into a fly shop and are greeted first by the shop dogs.  It was no exception when we walked into the Kern River Fly Shop in Kernville (CA) to meet up with Guy Jeans, owner/head guide, who we dubbed “Stonefly Guy” because of his band,  Stoneflys.  The first to greet us was Jackson Jeans (pic 1 above).   Excited doesn’t begin to describe Jackson as he jumped from Guy to Barb to me.

We had the same reception at A&G Outfitters in Dickson City (PA).  We met Adam Nidoh, our guide to fishing the “Urban Oasis” that is the Lackawanna River, in the parking lot of the shop.  When we went inside, we were met by Lucy, the fly shop dog.  After she said hello to Barb and me, she went back to relaxing in her favorite spot (see featured pic) as we went off to fish for the day.  Fly shop dogs are the best!

We met Sammy at the Fisheads Fly Shop in Navajo Dam (NM) as we finished paperwork for our float trip on the San Juan with Chris Taylor, “San Juan Streamin”.  Turns out, Sammy jumped in the truck with us and made the float down the river with us as well.  Sammy sat and watched as Chris rowed us downstream and sat up each time we hooked and landed a fish, never trying to get to it or getting in the way.  She was amazing and so much fun to have wth us.  She really liked one of the fish I caught too (see pic 2)!

It isn’t just float trips where we have these special friends join us.  We met our guide, Matt “Gilligan” Koles, Gilligan’s Guide Service, who showed us the Truckee River, at his home near Truckee before heading out to fish.  When we got to the parking spot and got out, he was joined by Elliot.  Matt asked us if we were ready to “bushwhack” a bit to get to some great holes, and of course we were up for it.  We encountered some great fish you can see in our post, “Gilligan’s Truckee”, but we had a blast watching and listening for Elliott as we waded the river.  He kept up with us every inch of the way and dutifully followed Barb and Matt as you can see (pic 3).

On our “Driftless Kick!” with Pete Cozad of Driftless Angler, we had the pleasure of meeting Pete’s dog, Teak (pic 4).  We watched as Teak ran and jumped to catch the frisbee Pete would throw on the grounds of The Sportsmens Club on the West Fork of the Kickapoo near Viroqua (WI).   What was so special was how Teak seemed to hang onto every word Pete was saying during our interview.  We’ve included a picture in this post, but to really see how Teak was listening, tune into “Driftles Kick!”.

Finally, a reprise of our favorite fly dog, Solomon.  You can see him in our 2016 post, “Fly Dogs” sitting on the welcome mat of TroutHunters Fly Shop in Island Park (ID) on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake.  Well, this year was even better.  We met Sue and Dud, Solomon’s owners and fishing buddies, to fish the Madison River on our “Madison Redux” with Steve Smith, Rivers Edge Fly Shop in Bozeman (MT).  The bite was on and it was an EPIC day of fishing, but what made it so special, was having Solomon with us.

Solomon LOVES to go fishing with Sue and Dud, and also LOVES to get in on the action when he can.  The picture above (pic 5) is one of our all time favorites.  You can see Sue downstream fishing and Dud (red cap) and Steve coming upstream following Solomon, who’d just jumped out of the boat and started running upstream to our boat.   Why?   Of course, we had a fish on!  When Solomon sees a bend in a rod, he’s on it.  We love fishing with Sue and Dud and always enjoy it when Solomon, our fav fly dog, comes along.

I”m sure when we get to Indy for Christmas, we’ll be heading to FlyMasters of Indianapolis fly shop for something.  We’re looking forward to being greeted by their shop dogs to wish them a Merry Christmas!

Ramble On!

The Driftless area is a region encompassing parts of southwestern Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois.  The area got its name due to the lack of glacial deposits, “drifts”.  What this translates to is a region of deep carved river valleys with some of the best trout fishing in the midwest.   We first heard about this area from Jen Ripple, editor/founder of Dun Magazine when she spoke at the 2017 GRTU TroutFest.  Ever since, we’d been excited about fishing this region.

Our first stop in the region took us to Viroqua (WI) to fish the West Fork of the Kickapoo, our “Driftless Kick!” start.  We next went to an area near Rochester and Lanesboro (MN) to fish the Whitewater and Trout Run streams, two more fisheries that are a part of the TU Greatest 100 Trout Streams.  To be honest, the area around our campground reminded us a lot of where we grew up in the country outside Kansas City.  However, when we drove to meet our guide, Mike Lewellen, of Troutlaws Fly Fishing Guide Service and followed him to the Whitewater River, the “Driftless” landscape emerged before us.  Our day on the Whitewater was filled with beautiful brown trout at most every bend of the river.  As we finished our day on the Whitewater,  we talked with Mike about our guide trip on Trout Run in a couple of days, and asked him where else we might fish.  He recommended Ducshee Creek near Lanesboro (MN).

Later that day, back in the campground at Chester Woods, Mike dropped by the SaraLinda and as we talked more about fishing Duschee Creek, Mike indicated he’d like to show it to us…. what a treat!  The deal was struck, we’d meet Mike in Lanesboro, buy lunch and he’d show us Duschee Creek.  We met at the Root River Rod Company in downtown Lanesboro, a really cool little town and a VERY nice fly shop.  After spending some time in the shop and lunching on bison hotdogs, we headed out to fish Duschee Creek.  The creek was absolutely beautiful and it was a great pleasure fishing with Mike.  We all hooked into some gorgeous brown trout throughout the afternoon and came upon a unique flower bed as well.

The next day we headed to Trout Run.  I mean…. any stream named “Trout Run” has to be good…. right?  When we got to a small bridge near a couple of small farms, we saw three other cars parked alongside the road, obviously other fishermen.   Getting out of the car, Mike told us not to worry, there were miles of stream, in both directions from the bridge, full of trout.  We decided to head upstream a ways to begin our day.  After a morning of catching a few trout here and there, we headed back to the car and were met by the local dog who entertained us during lunch…. entertained meaning he really was hoping we’d share some lunch with him.

After lunch, we headed back up stream further to a hole Mike really wanted us to fish.  I have to tell you, the folks in the “Driftless” area, fishermen, landowners and the state, have struck a great deal in providing access to streams.   While landowners have their properties fenced, primarily for cattle, there are ladder crossings near all the streams so anglers can easily cross fences to continue moving up/down stream.  We were both so impressed with this cooperation on the part of everyone.

That afternoon on Trout Run, Barb schooled me but good!  She hooked into some big, gorgeous “Driftless” browns at several different runs along the stream.  At one point, I was stalking a far bank run for a few trout that kept rising, teasing me but not taking my dry fly when I heard both Barb and Mike yelling at me to come up and fish with them.  Little did I know that while I was stalking with little success, they were in a hole with some great fish.  I’ll move faster next time!

We had the distinct pleasure of fishing with Mike for three days in southeastern Minnesota on three different streams.  I’m sure a lot of fly fishermen take the drive along I-90 from Chicago and points further east and head west to fish in Wyoming and Montana.   I would highly encourage them, and all our midwestern friends, to make sure to stop in southwestern Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota and fish the Driftless area streams.  We barely touched all the fishing opportunities available here.  Make sure if you do, you call Mike at Troutlaws and book at least three days to fish this amazing area.  We’ll for sure be coming back again!

PS  Yes, that’s a Pink Squirrel on my hat!  It’s a famous fly pattern in the “Driftless” area as it turns out.  I couldn’t resist buying and wearing it while we fished the area.