Posts Tagged ‘Fly Fishing Story’

Not a kid anymore..

A good friend asked me to write a piece for his WEBSITE, it is about my evolution as a Fisherman.I did not know I was going to get older in the process…


THAT guy was having way too much fun…on the lawn at the  Frontier Motel in Lone Pine, CA…when the limit was 25 Trout per day…

So was THIS one…


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I had been with Jean Marie for about 5 months when we decided to take a one week vacation to Aspen, Colorado in September, 1978. She had never been fly fishing. She had, however, taken trips with me to Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. Most of those trips required my presence because of the clients I worked with. We were not living together at this point, both of us had different residences, Jean lived on Olympic near La Cienega and I lived just off La Cienega near Burton Way in Los Angeles

I had just changed PR firms at this point and wanted to spend some time with the fish before I burrowed myself back into the insanity of the Music Business. We left LA on a clear and hot Friday afternoon, driving straight through Bishop ( the freshly mowed alfalfa smelled wonderful ) to Ely, Nevada – arriving at 3 AM where we spent a few hours in the most less than rustic motel that I have ever been in (It didn’t matter). We continued on, early the next morning, towards Green River, Utah. Just outside that speed trap, I was pulled over by a cigar chomping constable and fined for the same. He had me follow him into that oil spot, leading me to the local Justice of The Peace where I could immediately pay my fine (in cash) of course.As we stepped into the JP’s office, his wife came in and stated that her hubby wasn’t in but that I COULD make payment directly to her. She opened a roll top desk and wads of greenbacks spilled out of the desk and dumped onto the floor (retirement funds, no doubt). I paid my fine and eased out of town. For many years afterwards, I made a point of depositing bodily fluids whenever I crossed the state line into or out of that desert domain. It felt GOOD!

We continued on through Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs arriving in Aspen early on Saturday evening. We stayed with Stefan and Stascha Kaelin. They owned Kaelin Swiss Sports in Aspen and were great hosts.

Jean in front of the Kaelin house, September, 1978

The next morning, I stopped by Chuck Fothergill’s to pick up some gear – where my friend George Odier commented on my recent acquisition. Then, it was on to the Roaring Fork. We parked, ate some lunch and rigged up at Woody Creek Bridge.

Jean caught her first Rainbow down there, September, 1978

We used Rat Faced McDougals and Adams dry fly patterns. I wanted Jean to experience the thrill of seeing a big fish grab a surface fly. She had some inital problems getting her casting stroke down. However, by the end of the day, she a hooked and released a number of excellent fish.

Jean, laying out a cast, Roaring Fork River, Sept., 1978

We fished together for the next several days on the Fork and on the Frying Pan. Her angling skills increased with each outing and she got into several nice fish at this spot on the ” Pan”.

That obstruction in the center of the flow holds good fish in front, both sides and in the slow water behind the rock. I hooked a really big fish on the near side in ’75 that broke me off when it dove under the rock.

Jean takes a break, Aspen, Sept., 1978 ( band aid from fly wound – see below)

Most of our evenings were spent clubbing in Aspen which was a great place to pursue that activity. Also,the restaurants were great and less expensive in those days.

The Frying Pan, Sept., 1978

” No, you don’t UNDERSTAND – I WANT those sunglasses”

Jean rigs up on the Roaring Fork

On the fourth day, Jean was fishing a stretch of the “Pan” below me when I heard her let out a scream. She had hooked herself in the finger with a # 14 Adams. As I made my way out of the water to the road side, I saw a Game Warden approaching Jean. He asked her for her license ( yeah) and she proffered that she couldn’t reach it in her back pocket with the fly stuck in her finger. He offered to help ( how convenient) but noticed me approaching and demurred. That effectively stopped the day’s fishing. She wouldn’t let me push it through, crush the barb and pull it back out. We finally did that and looped a section of tippet material in the bend when we got back to Stefan’s. I paid for that – later that night (no comment).

PT on the “Pan”, Sept., 1978

Jean coming off the Roaring Fork, Sept., 1978 and…

Getting prepped for a night out in one or two of Aspen’s many restaurants and clubs to be followed by ….

Nymphet on a rock, Roaring Fork River, Sept., 1978

I had a client who called me and was becoming OBNOXIOUS and all kinda’ clingy so it was necessary for us to head back to Los Angeles. We spent a last night in Aspen with the Kaelin’s and headed out for Grand Junction the next morning. We spent a final (great) night in a small motel outside of Salina, Utah and arrived back in SMOGVILLE the next afternoon…

Jean said, ” I wanna’ come back to Aspen….and, will hold this position until I do….

We came back…( and she held several other unique positions before that happened)….

Grainy B&W Retro…

But, that is – another story…..

NEXT: Sleuthing the Owens Valley and the East Walker River with Jean


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The first time I remember seeing Jean Marie Hon was in the Fall of 1976. I was watching a Saturday morning television show with my first daughter Nadia, in the den. I saw THIS girl with two other actors and a chimp. It was the girl that stuck in my mind. Hmmmm….


JMH…on the set of ARK II…

About a month later, I had organized a party for Don Kirshner which was to follow the 1976 ROCK AWARDS – also a PR client. At the event, I was standing at the entrance when this girl walks in with the star of “BJ and the Bear”…Hmmmmm…

A friend of mine in early 1978 headed a Management Company which was located just down the hall from our offices. After having lunch together, she invited me back to her office to show me “something”. I waited in her office while she retrieved the “something” from a back room. In moments she returned and threw a composite on her desk. She exclaimed, ” this girl is too good for you!” Hmmmmmmmm…..

A week later, she invited me to a birthday party which she had arranged for a “friend” at her place on March 21, 1978.



September, 1978 New Orleans – a trip with Jean Marie, Isaac Hayes & me for the Ali/Spinks bout…

From the time we met, over the next three years, we were inseparable. I suppose it happens that at some time in our lives, if you are like me, a person comes into your life that has the opening/appendage for the umbilical cord that we thusly attach to them – unconsciously. Today, I realize I came to that place not with luggage but with cargo containers. We attract what we are, water seeks its’ own level or we find some one who reminds us of one or the other of our parents and we try to change them ( so we won’t have that same chaotic, original experience)

But, I didn’t know ANY of this then.


I had just found my best friend, a partner, the Mother of our two children – Michael and Ally, a fly fishing buddy and part of my story…

Aspen, CO…on the Frying Pan River…

Michael, Jean Marie and Ally…


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My daughter Nadia reminded me that I took a four day trip to Chilko Lake, BC in the fall of 1976 with her and Ilse. That trip had eluded my memory for some reason – although I must admit that it was one of the best trips I have ever taken over a four day period.

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My friend, Fritz Wepper was friends with a group of young Germans who had decided to relocate their families to the interior of British Columbia. They had pooled their resources and purchased Chilko Lake Lodge sometime in the mid seventies. Fritz knew that I worked in the Public Relations profession and thought that it might be a good idea if we all hooked up. They contacted me and arranged for the three of us to fly to Vancouver, BC where one of the owners, who was a pilot, would fly down and pick us up (the lodge had it’s own airstrip).

I had a client at the time who was taping a Canadian television show in Vancouver, so I stopped briefly by the set and returned to the airport where this fellow met us – in a single prop aircraft. I DON’T LIKE single engine aircraft. I have jumped out of most of the things the Army and Air Force use to drop parachutists – and other than a Huey, none of them had one engine. I white knuckled it all the way to Chilko Lake.

When we arrived we were met by a gaggle of Moms, Dads and offspring who warmly welcomed us. We had flown over many magnificent rivers, lakes and mountain ranges on our way to the lodge. They showed us to our quarters which was a grand room in the main lodge and we then settled down for a gourmet meal with many bottles of brew. I was introduced to an elderly gentleman who was born in Prussia who had fished for salmon and trout all over the world. He asked me if I would like to join him that afternoon down river in one of the lodge’s boats which was powered by a 50hp. Mercury engine. I put my gear together and stuffed streamers and bucktails into my vest. I decided to fish my Leonard with a sinking line.

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The Chilko River flows out of Chilko Lake. Below the Lodge, it is broad and swift. We anchored our craft behind a small island in the middle of the flow about a quarter mile down from the lodge. I attached a #6 Mickey Finn pattern to my 7 1/2′, 2x leader and began casting into the current, letting the fly swing below me before retrieving. The water was full of coho salmon, heading upriver and into the lake’s tributaries to spawn. My partner fished a big dark streamer on a 9′ Bamboo rod with a Hardy reel attached. As we fished, he related his wartime experiences to me – he had survived both the first and second World Wars. Soon, he was into a fine fish. I reeled in my line and reached for the landing net. Within a half hour, this older (more experienced) fellow caught and released five good fish – all but one were Dolly Vardens, the other was a plump and feisty Rainbow.

As the afternoon progressed, I learned some advanced aspects of streamer fishing from this aged angler. He showed me how to tie a Duncan Loop and how to use a half-hitch around the front of a streamer to change its draw through the water. Finally, at dusk, I started to score and took several nice Rainbows. The largest was 23″ and it came to my Mickey Finn. We returned to the Lodge at nightfall and enjoyed another sumptuous meal. Nadia fell asleep in my lap in front of a roaring fire.

The following morning, we decided to take advantage of the Lodge’s horses and went for an extended ride along the shore of the lake. We returned for lunch where my hosts invited me to go up once again in that damned plane to look for Dahl Sheep which they would, later in the fall -hunt. I somewhat hesitatingly loaded my carcass into the aircraft and spent the next two hours flying around lofty, snow capped peaks with the wing tips inches off the mountainside. I saw the sheep…get me outta’ here!!!

That evening was better. I loaded Ilse and Nadia in the watercraft and headed toward the Chilko Lake outlet. I fished to the banks with both my Leonard and Winston,  small Adams and Royal Wulff patterns. A hunter’s moon hung in the sky. The trout, none of which was over 15″ went crazy. In the fading light, which lasts till 10 o’clock in these elevations, Nadia and I caught and released over 50 fish.

The next morning, Nadia and I loaded into the boat early. I took my 11′ fiberglass rod and rigged it with a sinking line to which I added, 6ft. of lead core line and a short 1x leader. I started with a black #2 dace pattern and slowly trolled up and down the river below the small island I had previously fished. Nothing…

I then put on a white muddler minnow #2 and trolled it at a bit faster pace. Suddenly, Nadia ( who was 4 ) jumped out of her seat, screamed and pointed at the rod tip which was bent to the water. I slowed the boat and heaved back on the rod. I thought I had snagged the bottom. On my second pull, a huge form blasted out of the water behind the boat, dropped to the river, sending spray everywhere. Now I got a problem. I put Nadia at the wheel and asked her to hold the front of the boat into the current. That explanation wasn’t understood. The fish is on and I’m envisioning us being swept down current to the next territory. After more that a few terrifying moments I finally got the fish to the stern of the boat and netted it. It was a grand 9lb. Rainbow that had inhaled the fly. This one I kept. I dropped it into the boat, grabbed my pliers and removed the hook. I put the fish into a stowaway compartment on the side of the boat and told Nadia to sit on it. The fish heaved and slammed the top of the compartment until Nadia jumped up and scrambled up to the bow of the boat . “Dad”, she screamed, ” smack that fish on the head and KILL HIM!”. I looked at this blond, flowing mass of hair coming out of an orange life jacket ,with snot and tears running down her face and said, ” OK”. I reached into the box and whacked the fish in the head . It stopped struggling. Nadia wouldn’t step towards the stern of the boat for the remainder of the day.

We left the next day…in that same plane. Nadia hasn’t fished with me, in a boat, since…

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The next day was the day the NY Yankees beat the Dodgers 5-3 in their third World Series game. I know, my Father insisted on my listening to it on the radio.


My Dad, his Grandson Michael and Jean Marie Hon

We departed West Yellowstone at 5:00AM. I wanted to drive straight through to Bridgeport and spend Saturday and Sunday there before returning to work. A heavy snow was falling and the visibility was zero on our journey to Ashton, ID. It took us three hours to make the drive. By now, the snow had turned to a drizzling rain. As we passed through Idaho Falls, the skies began to clear and we made excellent time to Battle Mountain, NV. We stopped in Austin for a quick burger and cruised South to Hawthorne then on to Yerington which is the back way to Bridgeport.

In fading sunlight we drove past Bridgeport Reservoir and into town. We checked in at The Walker River Lodge and met Mary who, along with her husband and daughters, owned the lodge. I glanced at the wall behind the check- in counter and saw a commemorative plaque that had been given to Mary by a team from the 10th SFG (ABN) the previous year. She told me that these guys had come to the Marine Cold Weather Center to train the jarheads in cold weather OPS (it figures).

This was the first of many times I have stayed at the WRL. I had come up from Bishop a couple of times to fish the East Walker but had not stayed overnight. The next morning, we had a hearty breakfast at the Sportsman’s and then traveled South to Green Creek Road. Green Creek is situated in a high, alpine valley. My favorite section of the creek is just where the road starts into the valley, near a giant, collection of glacial boulders. This area has beaver ponds and slow moving water.

Green Creek, in it’s upper reach, above the meadow…

When we arrived, it was cold. A frost covered the grass and the leaves on the Aspen trees had already turned bright shades of yellow, orange and gold. I wore my silly hat which still itched.

Green Creek, in the meadow…

My small Winston was perfect for this water. I rigged a 12 ft., 5X leader to the 4WT DT line, pulled a Sierra Brite Dot # 18 from my fly box , added 12 inches of 6X tippet material to the leader and tied on the fly with a UNI knot. I waded into the tail of the first pool slowly, being careful not to push a wake or stir up the silt on the stream bottom. I began casting to the head of a log jam where the water spilled in.

When the fly floated to the water’s surface, two shadows streaked up from the darkness under the wood pile. I gave the rod a gentle lift and was firmly attached to a spunky 12 inch Brook Trout. I worked the fish quickly downstream, grasped it while turning it upside down, pulled the barbless hook from the corner of it’s jaw and gently released it back into the pool. I caught and released several other nice fish as I worked up through a series small ponds – both Brookies and Browns. The Brookies were radiant in their spawning colors.

Green Creek, where the beaver dams have widened the stream flow…

About noon, I had come to a place where the creek meanders through a large meadow. I switched to a # 18 beetle and bounced it off the bank. There was just enough over hanging grass to provide some cover and shade over the undercut bank even though the sun was high in the sky. On my first cast, I watched as a good sized fish drifted upwards ever so slowly towards the imitation. I took up slack and finally, after what seemed like five minutes, the fish nudged then sucked down the fly. All hell broke loose. The fish ran up stream as the little Hardy buzzed, It dove under the opposite bank and sulked. I could not move it, I gave the fish slack then pushed upstream reeling in line. Approaching where the leader entered the water, the fish suddenly burst from beneath the bank, raced below me, catapulted through the surface and cartwheeled twice.

The hook and leader held and after a time , I was able to net a husky 19″ Brown. The fish had taken the fly deeply. I finally removed the fly and spent the next five minutes holding the fish in my cupped hands, moving it back and forth in the water. I opened my hands and the Brown finned it’s way up the creek.

That was the largest fish I have ever caught in Green Creek

Soon, my Dad walked up the road and asked if I was ready to leave. He was hungry. We drove back down the mountain to Bridgeport and after lunch, I dropped him at the motel. He said he wanted to watch game 4 of the Series.

I spent the rest of the day fishing on the East Walker River with streamers. I took eight nice fish using a black and white marabou – the largest, another 19″ Brown. That one was caught in the meadow section, in the tail out behind the little island (for those of you who fished there before 1987).

When I returned, my Dad told me the Dodgers lost again.

It was a good day….

A few fish from the East Walker River, 1977…

The rest of my ongoing story is here:



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On Thursday, October 13, 1977, the sky was again overcast and there was the threat of more rain or snow.The night before, my Dad and I had decided, over a steak dinner, to travel over to the Yellowstone River to try for some West Slope Cutthroat trout.

After a quick breakfast, we left West Yellowstone at 7:30 AM and drove to Norris, Canyon, then South to Buffalo Ford several miles North of Fishing Bridge. On the way, we passed The Gibbon River which I would not fish on this trip and endless miles of lodge pole pines no longer there as a result of the 1988 fire. As we drove South from Canyon, several herds of buffalo grazed in the Hayden Valley.

Arriving at Buffalo Ford, I rigged my Leonard and remarked to my Dad about the pleasurable effect of being able to fish with no one else present. We were the only people there. At the end of my tippet, I tied on a # 14 Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear and stepped into the water. Even at this late period in the fall, the Yellowstone’s current was strong.

I fished quartering upstream, using the “high – stick” technique that I had been taught on the Roaring Fork. My body was constantly being pushed down river by the flow. I felt my feet slipping on the gravel bottom as I made an effort to dig in. ” Hey”, my Dad called out as he observed from the bank, you’re moving!” After an hour of this, with no trout to hand, I ambled out of the river and sat with Dad in the grass to rest. ” Why don’t you try that streamer again”, he suggested. I reached into my vest and pulled out the streamer wallet, fingered through its’ pockets and removed a # 6 Bucktail Coachman. This time, I left the wing unclipped – thinking it would make a difference( it didn’t), cut the leader back to 2X and tied it on with a Duncan Loop.

I stepped back into the river and cast out into the current quartering downstream. As the fly swung below me and the line tightened, I twitched the rod tip back and forth and gave the rod a slight pumping action. I retrieved the line back to myself first slow, then fast. It started to rain.

My Dad walked back to the car. Just as he called out to tell me where he was going, I looked down into the water at my slipping feet and noticed, to my amazement, three 16-18 inch trout holding at knee level. I was breaking the current for them. Each time I moved downriver after fishing out my cast, the three trout would slowly fin backwards and remain in position.

After thirty minutes of no fish and with the rain now becoming a steady downfall, I became REALLY frustrated. First, I tried to kick one of my trailing companions in the head. I nearly lost my balance. Then, holding my rod in my left hand, I leaned over with my nose almost touching the water’s surface and tried to grab one of the trout. I succeeded in getting soaking wet. By now, my Father had returned to stream side and was watching my antics.

I heard him call out to me, “Hey, I think you ARE losing it son…Let’s go!”

It was 3:00 PM. The wind was blowing gale force and the rain was coming down sideways. Once again, I was frozen. I stomped up to the bank, heaved myself into the grass, got up and went back to the car. I was muttering under my breath, ripping off my waders and drenched clothing. We drove on to the Old Faithful Lodge, where next to the fireplace, over B&B’s and water my Dad tried, but could not keep a straight face.

I was to hear, for many years to come, a recounting of my first experience on the Yellowstone River….

This story continues here:
4. South to Bridgeport


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The third day of my visit to West Yellowstone broke cold and overcast. Dad drove me up to the Firehole and dropped me off about a mile above where I had previously fished – close to Biscuit Basin. I had expected the weather to turn and wore a heavy wool, cable knit fisherman’s sweater and two sets of long underwear. On top of that, were clunky, inflexible boot foot waders that barely bent at the knees. I placed on my head a thick wool pull over watch cap – one of those with horizontal colored stripes that looks fashionable on a tourist in the Andes. I had no gloves or anything else to keep my exposed hands warm and would pay a price for this later in the day.

Rigging a # 22 Dry on the Firehole, October, 1977…

I fished upstream with the same small ( #22) yellow mayfly pattern I had been using. I hooked a few small fish, none over twelve inches. At 11:00 AM the wind began to pick up and the sky darkened further. Soon, drops of rain, then sleet and finally snow began to fall. Within an hour, the guides on the Leonard filled up with ice. I plunged the entire rod and reel into the warm river water to free the ice. In five minutes, the guides were, once again, choked with ice. Then my hands turned blue.

Workin’ a section of the Firehole…

I staggered clumsily out of the river and onto the bank and sat under a tree ( this was pre fire). I rolled my wader top down and stuffed my hands under the sweater and into my armpits. It was now 1:30PM and Dad would not be coming up the road to get me till 5:30 PM. It was so cold. No traffic was moving on the road to or from Old Faithful or the Yellowstone Lodge ( Old Faithful Inn). The snowflakes were getting bigger, piling up on the ground. The world had become utterly dark and silent except for the thick sheet of steam rising from the river and it’s constant gurgling. My head was itching like crazy, I felt totally alone.

Caught a Trout…my Dad took these pictures which have been LOST for a very long time…

I contemplated walking to Madison Junction and on to west Yellowstone just to keep warm. I was miserable.

I walked to the road and headed East towards Madison Junction and town, switching my rod from one hand to the other so my free hand could be stuffed under my sweater. I arrived at the Junction at 5:00PM and saw the approaching headlights of my car in the distance.

” What took you so long?” I asked my Dad as he pulled alongside me with the window partially down. ” I noticed it was snowing when I left the saloon”, he replied, ” so I figured I’d better pick you up early”.

I walked around the rear of the car, opened the door and slid my soaked body into the passenger seat exhaling loudly. Just then, my dad reached under his seat and thrust a brand new hot thermos bottle into my rigid hands. ” Thought you might like some hot coffee”, he winked.

My Dad was an OK kinda guy…

From that day to this, there are five items that ALWAYS accompany me to the water – in my truck or on my person: a soft, warm watch cap, fingerless or flip-over gloves, full gloves, a de-icing agent ( ice off paste), Gore Tex Shell and a thermometer

MORE warm clothing...HERE

That is what I learned that day…

This story continues here:

3. On Being an Obstruction
4. South to Bridgeport


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Dad and Mom before she hit the ejection button…

… was this. Dad would ride with me, early in the morning, to a spot on the Madison or Firehole in the park, drop me off and return to pick me up at dusk.

On the first morning, Dad left me where we had parked the day before. It was clear; the temps were in the low 60’s as I watched a flock of Canadian Geese course up the river as I set up my Leonard. I waded into the current and placed several casts of the miniscule yellow mayfly along a center streambed of moss.

PT, Fly Fishing the Firehole River, in Yellowstone National Park, October, 1977…

Around my third drift, a good fish rose to my offering and pushed upstream. I attempted to turn what was now a very heavy fish before it made the safety of the moss. “Damn”, I muttered as it dove into the vegetation. I had not positioned myself properly to turn my prey away from its safe haven. I spent the next five minutes moving up and down the bank pressuring the fish. I let the line go slack. With a rush, the fish turned down river. I couldn’t stop him. I panicked. The fish was into my backing. At that moment, the fish gave a headshake and the tippet popped. “Maybe five pounds”, I said to myself.

Working a dry fly around the weed beds…

I spent the rest of the day thrashing about with two small Browns to hand. Late in the afternoon, I walked down the road along the Firehole to a large pool I had seen when my Dad and I came up in the morning. I cut back my leader to 3x and tied on a wet Royal Coachman streamer, size # 6 . I clipped its wing to a stub (a trick Frank Arcularius used on the upper Owens River) and proceeded to cast, quartering downstream.




ROYAL COACHMAN STREAMER – (un-clipped wing)

I used a hand twist retrieve initially as the fly swung below me. Then, sped up the speed on subsequent casts. When I had the fly moving at about 4-6 inches per second, the first of a series of small Browns pounced. I was releasing the sixth fish when I heard a horn honk and turned to the road to see my Dad pulling off the road to pick me up. It was almost dark.

There is a nice fish in that net!!!…

On the way back to West Yellowstone, Father reported his exploits at a new town watering hole. My Dad was 65. He was handsome, charming and a good storyteller. It seems a bevy of babes at the local leather sewer had warmed up to him. He insisted that I accompany him back to HQ and meet them. He was right; they were BABES and all in their twenties. They wouldn’t give ME the time of day…
The Story continues here:

2.The Big Freeze

3. On Being an Obstruction

4. South to Bridgeport

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There are five stories that make up this trip with my Father. When I started this BLOG, I never connected them. Links are now placed to the following story at the bottom of each story…1.3.10

It was early October 1977. The guys I worked with knew I needed a vacation. I asked my Dad to accompany me on this ten-day trip. He had given me the impression, through the years, that he was familiar with fly-fishing and had, at sometime, actually done it. My experiences with him were limited to the streams in the Owens Valley although, when my brother Greg and I were about eleven, we had taken a trip with him to Great Falls, MT. to deliver a “pink” Cadillac El Dorado to a female friend who wanted him to drive her and her new car to Denver.


My Dad ( Actor – Jess Barker )in the Owens Valley fronting the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Lone Pine,CA… 1973…

On that road trip, we had fished in Yellowstone Lake off a Chris Craft Cruiser for cutthroat and lake trout. I remember when we went ashore on a small island; I took a spinning outfit and attached a gob of night crawlers to the treble hook on a Mepps spinner. My Dad told me emphatically, “You’re not going to catch a damn thing!” Hmmm…I knew better and within a half hour I had eight good-sized cutts stringered and lying on the beach.

I picked my Dad up a 6am and headed up the 14 freeway out of the San Fernando Valley towards Bishop, CA., We had breakfast at Jack’s Waffle House around 10:30. As we pulled out of the parking lot, my Dad asked me to stop at a liquor store so he could make a purchase. Well, when he got back in the car, he had a fifth of Cutty and a fifth of Cognac – untreated Alanon meter spikes to ten. Immediately, I envision that it is going to be THAT kind of a trip.

We got as far as Fallon, NV when Dad asked ME if I wanted a beer. “ Not really”, I responded. “ Well I do”, he shot back. So I pull into this dumpy little tavern with tumbleweeds blowing through the parking lot. Now I have a vision of “Bad Day at Black Rock” in my head. We stayed for his two and made for Battle Mountain. A replay occurred in Battle Mountain, Elko, Wells and almost in Jackpot. When Dad repeated the mantra as we approached Jackpot on the Idaho border, I looked over at him and said, “ If there was an ejection button on this console between my seats I would be jumping up and down on it RIGHT NOW! This is a fly fishing trip, not one of my ATO trips (of which I did many while attending Auburn) to Panama City!”

With that, we rode in silence to Idaho Falls where we spent the night.

The next morning was overcast, cold and drizzling. I made my way up through Ashton, Island Park and into West Yellowstone. We arrived around noon, checked into a motel/cabin and I went to a local shop to buy some waders and to ask for fly suggestions. My Dad went elsewhere.

We had a great prime rib dinner at a restaurant next to a pub where my Dad had spent the majority of the afternoon and early evening. The next morning was crisp and cold. I wanted to fish the Firehole River in the Park so we paralleled the Madison and following the road to the river. I found a nice parking spot just off the road next to the Firehole. I started to rig my rod and was prepared to set one up for Dad. As I came around to the passenger side of the car, I noticed my Dad had the fifth of cognac between his legs and was reading the Wall Street Journal (he did not own any stocks).” Hey Dad, I said, which rod do you want to use.” It was at this moment that he chose to tell me that he had never fly fished in his life and did not intend to do so now. “ Great, I exclaimed, so what do you want to do? “ “Well, replied my father, I’m going to sit in the car, read my paper and watch you fish and when it gets cold I’ll turn on the heater – so leave the keys!”

Fuming, I slid into the water and began casting the Leonard with a #22 yellow mayfly imitation upstream…

This story continues here:

1. The Arrangment
2.The Big Freeze

4. On Being an Obstruction

5. South to Bridgeport


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Robinson Creek lies just East and North of Bridgeport, CA. August 1977 was the first opportunity I had to go fly-fishing again since the visit to Hot Creek Ranch. I had spent the previous year building a new business and starting a divorce. I had been told that Robinson Creek held a substantial number of large Brown trout that had run up from Bridgeport Reservoir. Robinson creek flows out of Lower Twin Lake nestled high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In its lower section it twists and meanders through a big meadow just below Doc and Al’s Resort.


The first section of the stream encountered ran swiftly through a pine grove. The bottom of the waterway was covered with grapefruit and fist sized smoothed out boulders. In some places, larger boulders broke the current. It was mid afternoon. The sky was overcast and I could see darkening rain clouds moving eastward out of the mountains toward Nevada. I anticipated that a squall would reach me within the hour. I quickly rigged my Leonard and tied a # 16 Royal Wulff Coachman to my tippet (a good searching pattern) and hurried to the stream.

ROBINSON CREEK…below Doc and Al’s…5.24.2011…

My first few casts along the edges produced two small Rainbows. I moved further down the watercourse through the grove to a pool about fifteen feet in length and eighteen to twenty feet across. I chose a midstream position in direct line with a large rock that broke the current into two sections about ten feet above me. After placing three or four drifts along the edge of the left side of the rock, I took two steps to my right and placed the Royal Wulff two feet above the right side of the rock.

The fly disappeared as a great shadow raced forward from under the rock. I saw the fish’s back as it rapidly moved upstream towards a large pile of deadwood and debris in the run above. I pressured the rod and palmed the reel to turn the fish before it reached the pile and certain break off. The rod bent deeply into the butt as I applied more pressure. Suddenly I heard a loud bang and saw a great puff of powdered graphite in front of my face – the rod shattered at the ferrule. I stood in disbelief as the tip section of the rod slid into the water and hung on the line as the fish entered the tangled brush. I threw what was left of the rod and reel, grabbed the line and dashed in pursuit of the fish. It reached the safety of tangles before I even got close. I spent the next half hour attempting to follow the line and leader into the maze of branches, roots and other assorted flotsam to extricate my trophy. No way.

ROBINSON CREEK…before the meadow…5.24.2011…where the big fish story took place…

I finally admitted defeat when the first claps of thunder and loud crashes of lightening cascaded from above. I had a long, wet walk back to my car.

PT and Michael at Robinson Creek…5.12…

Down in the meadow…

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