All content © Robert Williamson

All content © Robert Williamson

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This brown trout came from a little tiny stream. I caught it just as the shadows of evening were starting to hit the water. I was looking into the clear water spotting trout and then casting to them. This little run had no fish in it but as I was watching, I noticed this brown come out from an undercut bank about twenty feet upstream. He swam casually downstream about ten feet below me. He then turned and faced upstream. I could tell he had come out to take a feeding position and grab a bite to eat before total darkness hit the water. I cast about eight feet above him and let my fly float to him. He rose up and sipped in the fly on the first cast.

Most of the fish I spotted that evening were already in position when I cast to them. This brown was fun because I watched him come to feed and becasue I was already in position hiding behind some willows, he had no clue I was there.

I caught several more fish at each run moving upstream until I could barely see. The fear of wild animals and ghosts soon scared me from the water.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Historic Fly Patterns

Much of my fly tying has been influenced by some of the great western fly tiers. Through my teen years I fished Pott Hair Flies down and across. I learned this technique from my dad. He taught my brohter and me that Pott's flies were all we needed and we took it to heart. When the Pott flies became more difficult to obtain, it sent me into the fly tying arena. At first, I just tried to copy the hair flies but soon realized what a neat, creative hobby fly tying is. I'm still fascinatd by the historic flies and the men who created them. Many of them came up with ideas, techniques and materials that were not necessarily the "norm." These historic patterns are being presented and preserved at www.

This is a neat site if you are interested in some of the historic patterns that were created for fly fishing the wild rivers in Montana and other areas of the Rockies.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Jumping in Like a Kid

Last year was a hot summer. I couldn't even get away from the heat by driving into the mountains to fish. Putting on a pair of waders on some days was just unbearable! I found myself reverting back to how I fished as a kid: jumping in the creek clothes and shoes. At first, I would try to sneak around the water and not get wet, but before long, I just had to wade out to hit the spots I couldn't reach by staying dry. It's actually quite refreshing to fish this way when it's hot.

The only thing I didn't like on some of these wet wading adventures, is walking back down a dirt trail or road in wet shoes and pants. The accumulation of trail dirt is amazing. It builds up nice and thick. It's something you really don't want to drag into a vehicle in most instances. Wearing shorts can help cut down on the mud, and having an extra pair of dry shoes or boots and socks is smart. If you plan things right, and the day is hot enough, you can try to dry off before you hike down the road. On hot summer days, this doesn't take too long especially if you wear some of the quick dry fishing and hiking pants that are out there.

Anyway, it's fun to just throw a fly box, some floatant and a spare leader or two into a pocket and then head up the stream, rock hopping and wading wet. I find it makes me feel like a kid again and brings back those memories when I could fish all day and cover miles of stream.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Crossing

The Crossing was the name given to the place on the creek where the willows and sagebrush had been cleared to allow Jezebel, the old tractor, access to the upper fields of wheat on Aldredge's farm.

Alrdredge's farm was a special fascination of the young men who were fortunate enough to explore its mysteries. Summers would have been a lot less fun had it not been for invitations from my boyhood friend to spend some time there.

It was at this farm that I learned to shoot a .22 rifle with enough accuracy to hit a jackrabbit running 35 miles per hour from 50 yards away. It was also the place I learned about deer, rattlesnakes and coyotes and where I first felt a newly-discovered feeling of self-reliance and freedom. It was where I learned to love solitude.

The most enjoyable thing I learned at the farm, however, was how to catch brown trout with grasshoppers. The creek was not large. Not many people knew of its whereabouts, except a few locals from town, it was rarely fished, and I can remember fishing two weeks without ever seeing another soul.

The small creek had deep holes and holding areas beneath the overhanging willows. The willows were so thick it was almost impossible to see through them. The water made its way down from springs higher up in the mountains and ran down through hills and flats covered with sage and juniper. The banks were almost always covered with willows, except for small openings just large enough for a small boy to stick his head and fishing pole through.

Grasshoppers were the best bait. They were overabundant in the wheat and grasses and sage. The best way to catch them was to throw a handful of sand at them. On the way to the first fishing spot I would stop occasionally to secure the hoppers I needed for bait.

The best way to attach the hopper to the hook was to thread the point of the hook through the thorax and then follow the abdomen with the point until the hopper was sitting upright on the shank. After securing the hopper to the hook, it was lowered into the water for its final fate.

Fish could be caught with hoppers all along this creek except for one place: the Crossing. I don't know if trout like to sun themselves but it sure seemed like it. There were always about 15 trout holding in the crossing. These trout were uncatchable. Every time I walked up to the crossing, I would spook them and they would race upstream into the cover of the willows and deeper water. No matter how sneaky I was, I could not approach the Crossing without scaring the trout.

I tried to sneak through the willows from above and below the Crossing but my shadow would fall upon the water or my movement would startle the trout. Sometimes I felt I had finally gotten close enough without making an error in my approach, only to find the browns were gone when I peered through the brush. It was like the trout had ESP.

As I got older, the trips to the farm ceased. Many years had passed and I advanced from a natural grasshopper-fishing boy to an adult fly- fisherman.

The desire to catch a trout from the Crossing drew me back to the area as an adult. After two and a half hours of driving, I found myself going up a small canyon road, weaving my way through a multitude of childhood memories.

I parked along a dry creek bed and leaped across a sagging barbed-wire fence, then stared at the tractor tracks that led to the Crossing. As I started up the dirt road, I picked my best hopper from my fly box and quickly threaded it on the leader.

Standing way back and viewing the situation, I decided my only chance for success would be to kneel down and cast the fly from about twenty feet out. I wanted to cast so that as my line straightened out, the leader and tippet would turn over gently and land on the water without much disturbance. False casting was almost impossible but I managed to do it long enough to get the right amount of line out.

My cast was long enough and the imitation hopper landed at the head of the Crossing with no noticeable disturbance. I watched intently as the hopper floated down through the middle of the stream. A brown trout lazily approached the hopper and sipped it in. I raised the rod tip and felt the struggle of a trout on the end of my line. As I stood up, I noticed all the other trout flying upstream as they always had, but I had one of them on the end of my line.

The trout I caught was about thirteen inches long. It was a fat little brown trout. I looked it over for a few seconds and then returned it to the Crossing. I knew I would not be able to catch another trout out of the Crossing for some time, but the thrill of catching that one little brown trout from the Crossing is a satisfaction that will last a lifetime.

Trout Wandering

Enough snow already! Cabin fever has set in. My mind is wandering, and the only thing I can think about is getting out on some creeks, streams, and rivers with a fly rod and a handful of flies. I'm counting down the days, and here in Utah, I figure I have about 35 days to go before I can start looking for some Blue-winged olive hatches. These hatches will occur on the lower elevation waters. The high country will be covered with snow far into June.

I have a few new places to hit this year, small creeks that I have heard about, but haven't had the opportunity to explore. This blog site will be about those explorations. I will post about the discoveries and the feelings I encounter as I wander. I will try to post a few pictures too.

My favorite thing to do is to seek out wild, native trout in their natural and historical waters. Here in Utah, that means cutthroat trout. I will,however, not limit my drivel to just cutthroat, as many of our waters are not capable of sustaining these beautiful gems. In many of our waters, the native cutthroat have been taken over by brown trout. The brown trout have been reproducing in our waters for many years now and although they are not native are very much wild, reproducing trout.

I have been fly fishing for 37 years and tying flies for over 25 years. As time goes on I will introduce you to fly patterns, materials and some techniques. This will be fun. Thanks for joining me!