We could get some video of me and a couple of other fishing guides forty feet up in a blue spruce during a raging blizzard hanging Christmas lights for the rich and famous in Aspen, in order to support our fishing habit. That would be unusual for a fishing video. We do take advantage of our access to the properties of the well-to-do and poach their ponds on occasion. The crew—Iron Mike, The Bear Cub, and myself—went and hassled giant spawning browns between Spinney and Elevenmile last week. It was bitter cold even with all the high tech clothing. It was a classic South Park morning, buffalo and antelope in the mist and a fresh skiff of snow on the meadows back lit by the rising sun. It was cold in the way only high plains can get cold. We had big vulnerable fish on our minds, so we hunkered through the bitter dawn to the river’s edge. Fishing spawners is a bit like trying to lure a big girl to your car with a bottle of Boones Farm and a bag of Cheetos—too easy to be boasted about, but tempting nonetheless. These fish were not easy money, however, and God, in his infinite wisdom, gave me a frostbitten fingertip as punishment for my slimy behavior. It’s my picking hand, not my stripping hand, which is good, but I still may loose another part of my body, which is only fair. I did find three monster browns in a triad of log and stone who, wisely, were sitting in lies where it was impossible to drop an egg pattern on their cagey asses. God knows they had probably had their fill of dodging egg patterns. I had a soft hackle trailing my egg, so I could still call it a fly and feel superior to my buddies who were fishing Alaska style beads. There were passels of big Kokanees around and I discovered that by herding the Kokanees into the zone of the browns I could piss them off. I wouldn’t want anything looking like a late-stage Kokanee in my house—zombies of the fall; red and rotting with jutting jaws and scraggly teeth. Once the salmon were in the territory of the browns the big trout would fire out and herd them back out of the zone then loiter for a bit, giving me an opportunity to drop my rig of death. I got all three to eat, and in spite of my thrashing about, herding moves, and jabs with the rod tip trying to keep them out of the triad of rock and stone, they blazed right by me and broke off. My technique for catching big fish with clients on the Frying Pan River was similar. Once we found big fish we would put our flies into their faces over and over until they gave up and ate the damn things. The second they were hooked I would charge into the water and try and chase the slabs into shallow water where we had a chance of corralling them. It ended the battle quickly one way or another with either the fish wrapped around my legs and busted off, or beaching themselves in mortal terror. The whole method is highly unethical but effective. The same could be said about the Boones Farm and Cheetos protocol. Spinney is a petting zoo and these were lake-run fish—at least that was our justification. So I have a little less finger and a dirty feeling lingering in my soul to remind me not to scrap style for results, or to be too desperate for the big ones. Big girls and big fish can cloud a man’s judgment.

Live from the World Headquarters
Kea C. Hause esq.


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