We’ve been blessed this entire trip in meeting and being befriended by so many people…. From Jimmy and Kathy Harris and Ron Thomas in Helen, GA to Tom and Deb Finkbiner in Slate Run, PA…  to all our guides we’ve enjoyed and who’ve taught us so much about fishing and the incredible places where their local trout live…  to the musicians who’ve shared their songs and stories with us…   all of the fly shops and their staffs who’ve put us on the flies and fishing spots for fun and successful fishing.  While you might think our journey is about fishing the TU Top 100 Trout Streams, it really isn’t.  As Andy Wagner, our guide on Spruce and Penns Creek says, “fishing is just an excuse”… an excuse to get together with old friends, make new friends, break bread together and be a part of a community of people who share your same “excuse”.   This has been our biggest “aha” moment of the trip and it was really brought home when Andy took us on a side trip at Penns Creek.

There are many fishing, hunting and “sportsmen’s” camps dotted along the streams we’ve fished in Pennsylvania.  After we’d spent the morning on Penns Creek, Andy took us to one of these camps which is known as “The Shanty”.   Imagine a small, one room cottage with no electricity, no running water, no phone and the nearest road is at least 1/4 mile away.   Inside is a wood stove, a sink, two sets of bunk beds, a sofa, a few chairs, a propane stove, a kitchen table, several kerosene lamps, some books and other items.  Food, supplies, water (beer), propane, wood, etc… all have to be brought in via lawn cart along a path left by the railroads that runs along Penns Creek.   That is the “physical” characteristics of “The Shanty”.   But kind of like “its not about the fish”, its really not about the physical characteristics of this camp.  Its about the people who built it and the people who now occupy and care for it and its history.

Thanks to Andy, we were honored to have met one of those people, Jeff Zim, a retired teacher and school principal.  Jeff shared the history of The Shanty from when it was originally built to its current set of characters who inhabit it.  The real history of the camp is in the hearts and minds of the people who’ve been fortunate enough to have stayed there, shared a drink and a cigar on the porch and fished with Jeff and the “Shanty Posse”.  It’s in the stories experienced and shared.  Barb and I were privileged to have spent a while sitting with Jeff and hearing some of those stories.  Most of them didn’t involve fishing at all, but the characters who share our community “excuse” of fly fishing.

Many of Jeff’s stories included one of his primary “posse” members, Bob Ranck.  We laughed so hard at some of the stories centered around “Ranck”.  What seemed to emerge from all the stories was that Bob got it more than the rest of us, meaning he really knew and lived the saying  “it’s not about the fish”.   From all the stories it was clear, “Ranck” was a character.  I wish we’d have had a chance to meet him as well and he could have been there to share his side of the stories being told.  They were priceless!

Places like this, and more importantly, people like this are so very special.  Barb and I want to thank Andy for bringing us up to The Shanty and introducing us to Jeff.  HUGE thank you to Jeff for opening his heart and his stories to us.  It meant the world to us both.  And even though he wasn’t there in person, he seemed to be there with us in spirit… a special thank you to Bob Ranck for creating this incredible place and keeping a warm and welcoming front porch for passers by to become friends.


Normally, I try to come up with a catchy title for a post hoping to draw your attention.  This time, simply,  “Rachel Finn”.

Rachel guided me on the West Branch of the Ausable River in Wilmington, NY.   She’s well known in the fly fishing community, as we have come to understand, and I had the great fortune to spend the day with her fishing, learning and having an incredibly fun time.  No need for a catchy title at all, simply “Rachel Finn”.

When Barb and I were just starting our journey, we wanted to make sure we found the “characters” who work and play in the trout streams we’d visit.  In fact, our very first blog post titled “Welcome” was tagged with one word, “Characters”.  As we fished our way through Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut we’d ask “Is there a guide on one of our upcoming rivers you’d recommend?”  The response we got over and over when we say we’re fishing the Ausable was “You’ve got to fish with Rachel Finn!”  When we asked, how do we find her, we were told to call Hungry Trout Fly Shop in Wilmington, NY.  When we asked why Rachel, we heard things like “She’s a character”, “She’s a hoot” and most importantly we heard, “There is no one who knows more about the Ausable and you will have a blast”.

After fishing with Rachel, all of these are true.  I’m officially adding my name to the list of anglers who would say, “You’ve got to fish with Rachel Finn!”

I hope you enjoy this interview with Rachel we did in the guide shack beside the Hungry Trout Fly Shop.  Its chock full of great background about Rachel, stories, tips/techniques, places to fish in the area, what kinds of fish to expect to find, what flies to bring and more.   Thanks Rachel!

In setting up our adventure into North Georgia, we contacted Unicoi Outfitters in Helen.  Jimmy Harris, co-owner of Unicoi Outfitters, befriended us and really helped us set things up for a great 4 days in the area.   While we were in the area, Jimmy recommended we come out to an education event being held at Smithgall Woods State Park and on Dukes Creek.   When we arrived, we walked in on Ron Thomas, a guide for Unicoi Outfitters and creator of Tie 1 On, a series of fly tying classes and videos.   Ron was talking about fly tying and had the audience engaged and ready to start tying.  These two were perfect for our first authentic ramble.

In part 2 of his interview, Jimbo discusses fishing the Guadalupe.  What to bring…. how to fish….  fly sizes that work best… what kinds of flies.   Yes…. this is the part I know you’ll want to watch and take notes on.  Jimbo gets into details to help make your trip more productive.    Enjoy!!!



In part 1 of his interview, Jimbo Roberts, Head of Fisheries for the Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited (GRTU) chapter discusses a bit of his fishing background, but focuses on the fishery itself and how GRTU got involved.  Amazingly, it started with beer!

We decided to test our our ability to capture quality video and interviews along the way a while back on the Guadalupe.  Our fishing buddies who really are two “characters”,  James Kelley and Dan McCormack, came down to fish.  There will be much more on them in a later post.

We hooked up with Alvin Dedeaux and JT Van Zandt of All Water Guides and had an incredible day on the river fishing.  All of the video from the Guadalupe Ramble video as well as this video was shot by Keith Mitchell (Digital Aspirations).

At each spot we fish, we hope to capture interviews with local guides…. Hence, Guide Talk!  In this case, Alvin and JT were game to share some of their adventures, best stories and most importantly to all you fly fishers out there…. tips on catching fish on the Guadalupe River.   In addition to being awesome guides, they are truly “characters”.  Their interview was priceless!

Please share your thoughts on what kinds of questions you’d like us to be asking the guides we float/wade with along the way.  We want to make sure we capture the info that is helpful to fly fishers coming to the river for the first time.

River Ramble?


To gain a full understanding of just what Barb and I are embarking on, you have to go back to March 16th of 2013.  While Barb was visiting family in Indiana, I attended an all day (and night) SXSW tribute to Levon Helm at Auditorium Shores in Austin, TX.  Levon, who passed on April 19, 2012, was the drummer and regular lead vocalist for The Band.  Those of my generation know their songs…  Chest Fever, The Weight, Up on Cripple Creek, The Last Waltz and more.  Many artists performed that day in honor of Levon but at the end of the night, it was the Levon Helm Midnight Ramble Band that played, along with some very special guests including Carolyn Wonderland, JJ Grey, Steve Earle, Ivan Neville, The Mastersons and members of Spirit Family Reunion.  There was something very special in the air that night (wink wink) and an idea was hatched.



Hello and welcome to our blog. Just getting our feet wet and trying to learn things on the fly (pun fully intended). A wise man told us to “jump in” so here we are.