Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Book Review: Trout Magic by Robert Traver

Trout Magic
By Robert Traver

I'm always in search of new authors to read, especially when it comes to books about fishing and the outdoors. So when I ran across a list of suggested books in one of my favorite author's book, John Gierach, I knew that I'd have to give all of them a try. The first of these is the book in question, Trout Magic by Robert Traver. The book is really a collection of short stories, which I definitely prefer. It's not that I don't like novels, I just find it a lot easier to read a short story here and there rather than commit large chunks of time to reading a book. 

The first story is entitled "Sins My Father Taught Me" and is about the author's early days in fishing. The "Sins" are simply tactics of bait fishing and other non-fly angling. I found it ironic that in his conversion story he refers to these other fishing methods as sins, yet later in the book he relates how fly fishermen are the world's biggest snobs. I find this on level with complaining about crowds and not realizing that you yourself help to make the crowds larger. 

The chapter "D. McGinnis: Guide" is a humorous tale about some backwoods folks that advertise, and operate (for at least one trip) their small cabin as a fishing lodge on the big dead river. The chumming, bait fishing, hard drinking bunch don't seem like they'd be much of a guide/lodge service and the first bunch of clients seem to think likewise. Until, that is, they start catching some quality fish. This, of course, makes all right with the world and the group of sports makes sure to book next year's trip.

My favorite chapter has to be "The Dancing Fly". It relates a trio of fishermen who come upon frenchmen's pond and immediately struggle with the wild, difficult fish that take residence there. It seems that the only fly these fish will even consider eating is one that dances on top of the water. That Winter, the main character, Al, takes it upon himself to figure out the solution by writing to a biologist who lives a safe distance away. Armed with new flies, and a new technique, on opening day Al makes a standing bet with his buddies that quickly makes him some money until they turn it back on him. For me, this had to be the highlight of the book.

Although some of the chapters seem quite dated ("Women Fishermen: Are They for Real?") most of the book is a pretty good read. I wouldn't choose this book above others that I've done reviews on, but it's still a pretty good one. Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature or at very least read about it.

- Kidder

"Goody, we're gonna plant a troupe of topless mermaids in the place," Pinky broke in, clapping his hands. "Then all we gotta do is lay around all day wth binoculars and a six pack, watchin' 'em cavortin' an' dozin' in the sun." He rolled his eyes. "No shenanigans, of course, 'cause my mother done told me the best thing to do with a sleeping bag is leave her lay." pg. 172

Monday, June 29, 2015


Back in February, I was longingly thinking about June and all the after work short trips that I'd be taking. Not to mention the backpacking, camping, boating, etc, etc.... In an attempt to realize those torturous late winter dreams I headed out after work one day last week with my buddy Ross to try a small stream I know of that holds some nicer fish. 

Once we arrived it was obvious that fishing was going to be tough with low water, a bright sun and some spooky fish. So, we fished in turns with the other guy acting as a spotter. I don't know about you, but I really like fishing this way. We soon found some fish that were willing to play and Ross was into a good rainbow on his egg pattern. 

A nice, darkly colored, rainbow
I backed up and climbed down to help him out with his fish and spotted a fish working in the riffle just behind us. So I slung my streamer over and worked it back and forth in the current which brought on a vicious hit (for such little guy) from another 'bow. 

Love seeing a fish slam a streamer

Fishing really slowed down from there as the mosquitoes began to really become a nuisance, but we trudged on hoping that the two pools up ahead would yield some nicer fish. There were definitely fish around as we approached, but they were hard to get at without making 'em wise to our presence. Not to mention that we were casting, swatting mosquitoes, changing hands, swatting mosquitoes, setting on a take - too late, and swatting at mosquitoes.


In the next hole we spotted a couple of fish holding just outside of an undercut bank and I decided to try my hand at some underwater photography. The first two attempts yielded very cloudy pictures in which you could barely discern a fish, but the third shot was by far the most successful. 

Not quite Fish Eye Guy Photography, but not bad for a hack like me!

Ended out the day with a final 'bow hitting my streamer below a fairly impressive little waterfall. I shot a quick pic, released the fish, and we hurried back to the car - swatting mosquitoes the whole way. All in all a good little trip, and a reminder to bring some bug spray next time! Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature.
- Kidder

This streamer is getting close to earning itself a name....any suggestions?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Father's Day

I think they've definitely spoiled me this year. Not only did my family get me a sweet reel case, an awesome sweatshirt and a fitbit (so there's proof to how lazy I've been) but they also agreed to go fishing with me. With the homemade breakfast and gifts out of the way, we loaded the rowboat into the back of the truck and headed into the high country. 

Some great views up here
Once at our destination, we quickly set up and launched our small boat. Before we were really even started Del hooked up with a fat brook trout while trolling a small gold spinner. I tried to get the boys set up with similar rigs while fighting the gusty wind that would be off and on the whole time we were there. The boys had several hits, but only Del could close the deal while trolling.

Prettiest fisherwoman I know
After a bit of a slow stretch, during which I wore out my arms/back from rowing, we decided to drop anchor and see if a different approach might yield better results. We set Del and the boys up with bait while I tried a jig tipped with a Gulp! minnow. Probably should've changed over sooner! As soon as my jig went down it was being attacked. Meanwhile, the bait fishermen/woman seemed to have pretty good luck too. 

It's a nice fish, but I'm not sure why he's holding it that way...
Everyone, that is, except Cado. He had struck out while trolling and was starting to get really frustrated with fishing altogether. To keep talks of lunch at bay, I let him pull one in on my rod and that seemed to get rid of the skunk. Soon he had one of the few rainbows we caught on his own pole.

This brookie got the skunk off

The play by play of Cado's 'bow
After Cado got his fish we headed in, loaded up, and went to search out a place to have lunch. We found a nice little spot that would be great to camp in (maybe soon?), ate, the kids did bigfoot calls, and Del played with her camera a bit.

Nice perspective
I don't know how everyone else celebrates this holiday, but I think our way is best. I can't think of a place that would've been any better, or anyone that it would've been to be with, than being outdoors fishing with my family. Hope you had a great Father's Day, and hope that you can get out, be safe, and enjoy the outdoors.
- Kidder

Saturday, June 20, 2015


This past week it was my turn to attend a professional development conference. Some teachers don't like these, but I find after a long school year nothing gets me excited about getting back to work than hearing some new ideas, reconnecting with other teachers, and of course sneaking away to do some fishing on streams that I don't often get to fish. On the way up to Logan, UT I stopped off to pick up my Father's Day gift from Del and boys at Cabelas (It was in bags, so I still don't know what it is). I also delivered my Dad's Father's Day/Birthday gift from me, the nice 8wt rod that I built for him (read about that here).

Nice stream
Even after all that I still arrived with plenty of time to check into the hotel, grab something to eat, and head up to the stream. Just to mix things up even more, I passed on fishing the usual spots and elected to instead drive further up than I've ever fished before to explore. Right off the bat I found some willing fish, and pulled in a nice sized whitefish to start the evening. Living and fishing in Southern Utah means that I don't see many of these, so they're still somewhat of a novelty to me. Fishing upstream, I found quick runs and beautiful glassy pools filled with mostly brown trout, though there were also some cutthroat trout intermixed to keep it interesting (along with the odd whitefish). 

Always good to catch multiple species
At one point the stream-side brush was really thick, the current heavy and deep in front of me with overhanging trees from bank to bank. I decided to push on, and after a few tense moments when I realized there must be a good sized hole in my waders somewhere in the vicinity of my crotch, I made it through. When I broke out into the open again it felt as though I'd stumbled into a secret room. Open only to the sky, I could see that casting was going to be difficult, but there were many rising fish to make sure the effort was worth it.

With no one waiting for me back at the hotel I continued fishing my way upstream until I could no longer see my parachute PMD. 

Fish of the evening, a beauty of a Cutt
The next evening another teacher at the conference joined me for the evening of fishing. Josh and I are actually neighbors but it seems like we never get out fishing together. It could have something to do with him being a music teacher at two schools, volunteering as an EMT, and having five kids, but I'm not sure. Anyway, an afternoon rainstorm that seemed to stick around just to sprinkle on us enough to keep us worried about a complete downpour had made this evening much cooler than the night before. At first I was worried that the fishing would be a lot tougher, but the fish didn't seem to notice too much and were still willing to rise for our dry fly offerings. We fished until we could no longer see our flies, but the mosquitos didn't seem to have any problem finding us. 

Glad Josh could get into several fish
At the conclusion of the conference the next day I had to hurry home for a school board meeting and get ready for my Summer Band program to start. Though it was too bad I didn't get out for another evening before having to head home, it sure felt good to hit some different water and recharge my batteries. Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature.

- Kidder

Who wouldn't love to be here?

Thursday, June 11, 2015


My younger brother Weston is in town for a professional development conference, he teaches Woodshop, so in the evenings we try and head out fishing as much as possible. This year, he invited a teaching buddy of his, Bryan, to go along. Weston wanted to check out a small stream that I've been telling him about for a while, but I was hesitant to take Bryan along. I didn't know him from Adam, and this is not a place that could handle a lot of pressure, in my opinion. But with a few death threats in place, Weston convinced me and we headed out. 

We saw three bull elk on the way to the stream, but other than that awesomeness, nothing out of the ordinary. We quickly set up and hit the water. Bryan was first into a fish, a decent rainbow, and from there it was on. A mix of 'bows and cutts came to hand for a nice quick outing. 

Caught a few pretty bows like this

A block of fish

Boxer jaw
Weston fished with me for a bit, but insisted that his fish weren't picture "worthy", though some were pretty nice. Bryan elected to fish on his own, but caught the fish of the day, a stout 22" Cutt that took him far downstream before coming to the net.

Nice and all colored up
Darkness put the kibosh on the bite and we packed it up. Tons of deer and a cow elk along the road on the way back to my house made the drive a long one, but all and all it was a good night. Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature.

- Kidder

Sunday, June 7, 2015


Since the school year ended I've been spending a lot of time here at home with the boys. The wife's job has her working M-F during the day, which means for the first time ever I'm in charge around the house on a daily basis. I don't know how she managed to be a stay-at-home parent for so many years. Personally, I'd much rather go to work. Or, better yet, I'd like to be able to sneak off a couple of times a week to do some fishing. I have, and will continue to, take my boys on fishing excursions but sometimes you've just got to get out there alone. So in that spirit, I managed to get away for an afternoon of hiking and fishing by myself.

Heads up
The hike itself was only a short one, and I tried to make good time while also making enough noise to avoid any unwanted, sudden, encounters. The doe in the pic above didn't seem to concerned about the crazy human talking to himself. Ever since running into that sow with two cubs last August, I try to be a little more bear conscious while out in the woods. I carry bear spray, make some noise, and try to be aware of what food items I've got in my pack. It's not that I have bear-a-noia or anything like that, just want to be prepared.

He's dressed for a party
Another angler was already at the lake when I arrived but he claimed to have only caught a couple of smaller cutts early on, and now wasn't having too much luck. It looked like he was drowning some frozen minnows. The fish seemed a little more receptive to my Slumpbuster, a fly that I've really come to like the past few weeks. Though I wasn't finding any of the nicer fish that inhabit this little lake either.

Can you see the other fish?
Thinking maybe the big 'uns weren't quite ready to stack up at the inlet I worked my way around to another bay where I've had some success in the past. It was a good thought, but I didn't find any willing fish away from the inlet and with evening coming on quick I decided to finish my day where it had begun. 

Last one of the day, not many spots near his head
A few more fish were willing to play, especially once I put on a white simi-seal leech or a red & white clouser minnow that I had tied up to try on bass. Looking up from my focus I realized that I had stayed too late already and broke my rod down so that I could hike quickly out of there. 

I like it here
Made it back to the truck without using the headlamp that I always have with me, but it was a close call. The drive home involved another close call, but luckily I spotted the small herd of elk in time to stop. Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature.

- Kidder

You're late

Friday, June 5, 2015

Family Time

We decided to kick Summer off the right way and go camping with my sister Jenny and her family. Figuring out where to go seemed to include way too much indecision, but we finally decided to make base camp at Huntington North State Park and maybe take a ride into the high country to escape the heat of the day. Huntington North is a nice place to stay, though I wouldn't really call it camping. Running water, restrooms, showers and full cell service make it seem a little too civilized. 

As the second day's heat really started to settle in, we packed up and spent the afternoon in the high country where we found a mixed bag of rainbows and tigers that were willing to play. Riann sure had the magic touch. On the way back I convinced the wife to let me fling a fly in one of my favorite streams. Managed a couple before we moved on, did see a couple of cicadas around so maybe I'll head back over soon...

After fishing we found a place to eat lunch and shoot some guns.

Lot's of fun out and about. Hope you can get out, be safe and enjoy nature.
- Kidder

Monday, June 1, 2015

Book Review: Streams of Consciousness

Streams of Consciousness
Hip-Deep Dispatches from the River of Life
by Jeff Hull

It took me a couple of chapters to really get into this book. I don't know why, but it seemed that the author was disconnected from the stories and it made me not care. Again, I'm not sure why, but it wasn't until the chapter Blackfeet Lake Tales that the author became real to me. Maybe it was the tension in the Native American/White relationship so succinctly related through a line of dialog, "You're pretty ugly for a white guy." 

Another highlight of the book came from the chapter Brothers in waiting, where we're not only introduced to a young angler named Talan but also the author's brother. The author is helping Talan try and catch some fish through Camp Mak-A-Dream and the author relates his experiences with that of his brother Chris, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness at age 8. Later in the book Third Spaces tells the end of Chris's story in a painful chapter that relates the awful experience of losing a loved one.

Overall, this is a fishing book, but it deals with so much more than just fishing. In the chapter Rorschach Bluegill the author tells of his time in a mental institution and his battle with depression. As a teacher it was a very poignant reminder of what many of my students deal with and how misunderstood the affliction can truly be. 

I think Streams of Consciousness is a great book, one that I'll probably re-read sometime in the near future. Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature or at very least read about it.

- Kidder

"But, even though the white walls of the ward stood just beyond the green crest of the hill, nobody killed themselves or even talked about it down where the bluegills lived." pg 110