The lure of the river: Have you ever stood next to a mountain stream? Watched the bubbling, tumbling, water gurgling over rocks, around logs, finally captured by a pool? Walk a few paces and watch the stream repeat the process over again? No stretch ever looks the same. For me looking at moving water is like looking into a campfire. I’m hypnotized as the flames dance and twist upward escaping into the air. I watch all the different colors shifting, red, orange, yellow, reaching up only to settle back down again. Rivers are the same to me. I’m mesmerized every time I watch a river. Now imagine a sport that centers around being in or on such beautiful water. No 2 rivers are the same and no 2 fish are the same. Around every bend of the river a new opportunity and a new challenge await. The surface of the river may look calm and undisturbed while underneath it could be as busy as an ant colony. There could be aquatic bugs, minnows, crawfish, snails, shrimp, worms, and of course bigger fish foraging on them all. There is a pecking order too, with bigger fish getting the best “tables” (spots) to eat.
Sometimes, if we’re lucky, the surface of the river comes alive. The aquatic bugs have completed their life cycle and change from an underwater bug to land bugs. Some inflate their bodies, pop out wings, and struggle to the surface attempting flight to the bushes. Other bugs crawl to the rocks, split their underwater bodies (cases) and emerge as a bug with wings and fly (not so gracefully). The cycle starts over, the bugs lay their eggs in the water and die, only living life out of water for only a few days, some for only a few hours. This “hatch” is the trigger for fish to start feeding on the surface. Often many species of bugs will be hatching at the same time and the fish have a veritable smorgasbord. Maybe all we see is a subtle ring as the fish “sips” the surface. Or it could be big splashes and swirls as the fish chases down its dinner. This surface activity is the pinnacle of anticipation and opportunity for the fly fisherman.
Fly fishing and food: How are they connected? Seems odd a sport that casts an artificial “bug” through the air from a person standing in a river to an often invisible target could be connected to food? You think seafood maybe, but all food? First I practice catch and release. Hook the fish, land the fish, unhook the fish, throw it back. I do my best to get the fish back in the water quickly so it has minimal stress and can live to fight another day. So my fish doesn’t find its way to my plate. However I cook and eat seafood all the time. I just buy it from the market. Let me share my connection to fly fishing and food. Fly fishing can be done almost anywhere. Just like golf. If there’s grass then there are probably golf courses. If there’s water there’s probably fly fishing.
From soup to nuts: As every river is different regional cuisine is different. From the Cajun and Creole cooking of Louisiana, to the Southwest cuisine of the 4 corners region, it’s all special. From Canada to Mexico great food is on the menu. I want to share some recipes indigenous to the areas, recipes that may remind me of the time and place, or just great recipes. Hope you find them as special as I.
Put on your waders and string that rod. I also hope in your lifetime you have opportunity to pick up a fly rod and cast. Experience the pure joy of the place and the reason. I’ve been lucky to do so and plan on getting luckier the rest of my life. I’m including information on how to connect to some of my favorite fly fishing spots. Information on great guides I’ve met along the way. Connections to accommodating and helpful fly shops, inns and lodges that make your adventure all that more enjoyable. No hurry, there’s no clock on the river. Enjoy your time and Tight Lines!