OK…. so right up front let me say, I have a favorite fishing buddy, in case you’ve not noticed already. We certainly didn’t know we were going to be fishing buddies when we met. Our desires to fish together didn’t lead us to get married almost 46 years ago. It is true that once our daughters ended up in different cities well over a decade ago, it caused Barb to decide that if she were to hang out with Chris (our now son-in-law), Krista and me in the Tetons, she’d need to learn to fish, since she’d lost her “hang out on the bank” partner in Kelly. However, one never knows how a shared interest in fishing might translate into “fishing buddy” status…. but of course, you know how it turned out.
Many of Barb’s friends and family questioned her sanity when she agreed to go on our River Ramble together. I mean, it’s one thing to fish together a few times a year with family, but quite another to sell your home, live in a 200 sq.ft. RV (“SaraLinda“) and travel the country fishing for 10 months a year for two years…. but that’s exactly what we did. And… we’re still married…. and are best fishing buds!
Now I’m not saying one needs to marry one’s fishing buddy – or – that one’s best fishing buddy should be one’s spouse. For some, if not many, it’s a pursuit that doesn’t necessarily fit, but when it does…. it’s very very special! When you watch the “Fishing Buddies” video above, you’ll see a pic of a couple we met along the Madison River in October 2016. I wish I could remember both of their names, but what I do remember is that he told us everyone just calls him “Coach”. They come to Yellowstone each October for the entire month to fish the Madison. They are both in their 70’s and they’ve been married longer than Barb and me. Needless to say, we aspire to still be fishing the Madison each October for the run of big browns from Hegben Lake, well into our 70’s and beyond like Coach and his wife.
The thing to recognize in this is…. it isn’t because we’re married that we’re fishing buddies, but it’s that we actually SHARE some important factors in what makes good fishing buddies. Factors like:
Do you like to fish from sunup to sundown and beyond…. or….. do you enjoy the frequent respite for an afternoon siesta, a good meal and/or a few cold adult beverages?
Do you like to fish for a few “big” fish…. or…. catch as many fish as you possibly can?
Are you a dry fly only aficionado…. or…. a use whatever method works kind of angler?
Are you more into wading streams…. or fishing out of a drift boat/raft?
Are you into small streams… or…. big rivers?
Do you like to fish salt water…. or…. fresh water?
Are you partial to moving water…. or…. still water?
I’m sure the list could go on and on, and welcome feedback from readers on the list for sure, but I think you get the gist of things. The best kinds of fishing buddies are those with which you share the most factors.
The tag line of our River Ramble blog really tells you a lot about us…. “Fly Fishing, Food, Friends and Fun”. We are not the sunup to sundown types, although we’ve done it MANY times… I mean, of course “It’s Not About the Fish” ALL the time…. but there are days when all the fly fishing stars align and you just don’t want to leave the water. We’re always prepared for such days. We always pack enough drinks and extra sandwiches “just in case” one such day reveals itself…. so it’s PB&J for lunch, dinner and the moonlight snack driving back to the SaraLinda. That said, if we know a great band is playing nearby, or friends are coming in that day… we’ll always choose to leave the river.
As for the fishing itself, we’re “opportunists” for sure. We’ll fish dry flies, wet flies, nymphs, streamers whatever fly fishing tackle is working best. Of course, whenever we can fish dries, it’s by far the most fun, watching the fish rise and take the fly from the surface…. instead of watching a strike indicator jiggle or pop beneath the surface…. or even swinging/stripping wet flies and streamers. But in the end, we’re definitely “opportunists”. Oh, and so far, we are moving, fresh water folks…. but we know that will be enhanced to include still water (ponds, lakes) and saltwater in our future. And we’ve found, we like to catch fish, big and small, so we’re not too hung up on the “how many” fish we catch anymore. We’ve heard anglers go through this as they grow more experienced… first, it’s catch a lot, then catch the big ones, then its “special” ones, etc…. but we find that fishing is an excuse to get outside, enjoy nature, share time with each other and friends, meet new people, enjoy new places… you know….
We’re in the “It’s Not About the Fish” group. We want our guides to put us on fish if possible, but we also want them to make sure to point out geological sites, historical artifacts, eagles, osprey and of course, animals along our journeys. We always ask them about local beers, places to eat and live music nearby so we can enjoy the community surrounding these beautiful streams.
As you watch the “Fishing Buddies” video above, you’ll see images of some of our fishing buddies including family members (and family member’s best buds), Sue Doss & Dud Lutton (Bozeman), Bill McCauslen & Ron Reed (Austin) and two who’ve been with me and with us more than anyone, James Kelley (Nashville) and Dan McCormack (Houston). In addition to the annual trips James, Dan and I have taken for many years now, they’ve also joined Barb and me on our Ramble stops in New York, Colorado, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, Utah (“The Utah Four“) and Tennessee. While my counting may be a bit off, I list over 25 rivers now we’ve fished together…. and we’re still planning more, including Alaska.
I’d be remiss if I also didn’t mention a few other images you’ll see in the video, “Fishing Buddies”. We started out our Ramble on the Guadalupe, with James and Dan of course… but also with guides, Alvin Dedeaux and JT Van Zandt, who it turns out, are fishing buddies from way back. Watch their “Guadalupe Guide Talk” and you’ll see and hear their stories which are a hoot! Andy Wagner befriended us along the way, and took us to “The Shanty” along Penns Creek (PA) to meet one of his “buddies”, Jeff Zim, one of a group of “buddies” affectionately called “The Shanty Posse”. And not to be missed, our four legged furry friends (“Fly Dogs” & “Fly Dogs 2“)who accompanied us fishing, Solomon (Sue & Dud’s), Brookie (Julie Szur, our guide in Slate Run, PA), Sammy (Chris Taylor, our guide on the San Juan) and Desie (Roger & Mary Nelson, Nelson’s Spring Creek (MT)).