Monday, May 01, 2006


When it comes to migrations, most envision Alaskans vast herds of Caribou or the massive bodies of animals that wander across the African Serengeti. Those of us in angling circles primarily ponder a variety of species of fishes that inhabit bodies of waters throughout the world. Yet much like the fishes, we also migrate to all corners of the globe in pursuit of those fined species we hope to catch.

For me it all started in 1985, when I was given the opportunity to guide in British Columbia for Steelhead. I'll never forget the lodge owner’s comments shortly after I arrived, "After fishing for Steelhead you'll never be the same". How right he was, but in more ways than he had alluded to.

Before arriving at my final Canadian destination, I got my first taste of the Steelhead experience. Standing in a secluded section of Vancouver International Airport waiting to catch the final leg of my flight that would lead me to “Steelhead Paradise” I ran into a number of migrating anglers all headed to Smithers as I was. It wasn’t difficult to pick out the anglers. Might have had something to do with the rod tubes a number of the gents had in tow or the Sage bags under arm. Most were older than I and frequently crossed paths each year on their way to one or several of British Columbia’s legendary Steelhead waters this same time every year.

Flying on my and this being my first trek to these parts I wandered over to make acquaintances. My first victim turned out to be John Simms, the original owner of Simms (dah). He quickly began reminiscing on his annual treks to BC, the rivers he had fished and some of the changes from past Steelhead trips. Pretty soon there were a number of us joining in the conversation. The journey had begun.

Later I met John Fick of Duranglers in Colorado. It would be one of a half dozen chance encounters we would have in our travels to Steelhead country. On a white knuckler into Smithers, BC on another year I shared a seat with Trey Combs. He had just completed one of the finest books written on the subject, Steelhead Fly Fishing. I kindly refer to his this book as the Bible. Due to the weather we couldn’t find a runway to land on so our pilot ended up diverting to Terrace. It was a great opportunity to pick his brain. It was also a great diversion from pondering the ending should our pilot not be able to find pavement through the gray abyss that we had been circling through for sometime now. Over my years of taking this trip, I have had a few such flights.

For the past 20 years my migratory family of Steelhead bums continues to grow where ever Steelhead river flow; California, BC, Idaho, Washington, Oregon. If you ever get into chasing these amazing fish around, after a time you’ll even know who to expect depending on the dates you travel and your final destination. As I’ve ventured into the world of Saltwater fly fishing I find it no different. A few years back while getting groceries in Key West I ran into a guy who I’ve sat next to on the plane numerous times when visiting Steelhead country. Small world. Like Steelhead he had been traveling to Key West for years chasing Florida’s Silver Kings. Now to, as in my travels to the North Country to fish for anadramous fish, my acquaintances have grown among the sunny climates of the world.

With just a few days left before I depart the phone starts to ring and Tarpon anglers I’ve come to know have begun to stop in the shop to get a progress report. This morning I met up with Ken Louder, my fishing partner on this trip, at a local park to work on our cast. George Haley, one of our long standing Tarpon junkies also headed south, stopped in to check on our arrival and to find out if I had heard any news. Another Floridian called to see when I was going to arrive so we could arrange maybe and evening of Splooshing Tarpon.

I remember coming into the shop at 6am one morning to get some work done before the doors opened. This was a few months back. I usually don’ answer e-mails until later so I can get my paperwork lined up, but this morning I did. A customer had said he was going to e-mail me a Tarpon clip he had seen and sure enough it was there. I fired it up, big mistake regarding my morning plans, and was soon in another time zone. Johnny Cash was singing in the back ground, something about Jesus. Andy Mill the king of Tarpon was proven to be a mere mortal much to my pleasure. When it was over I played it again. This time with the light out so I could really torture myself. When I was done with it the second time I turned a lot of normally productive peoples days into mush and sent it off to my circle of migratory friends. That I would have to say is when mentally my officially migrations south began. Come Monday, it officially starts.

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