Mike, Aimee and Gus (age 16-months) Eaton are spending 2015 traveling the United States fly fishing for every major game species that can be caught on a fly rod. Here, they check-in from nine months into the thing.
Words: Aimee Eaton
Photos: Mike and Aimee Eaton
Nine months in. Three-quarters of the way through. Fished in OR, WA, NV, CO, TX, FL, ME, NH, VT, MI, WI, WY, ID, WI (again). Picked up bull trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, five different types of cutthroat trout including Lahontan, speckled trout, mountain whitefish, bluegill, crappie, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, pickerel, steelhead, carp, bonnethead shark, barracuda, bonefish, red fish, northern pike, muskellunge and a few dozen other salt and freshwater species. Hooked one tarpon. Struck out on permit and alligator gar.
Walked through flats, streams, rivers, drainage canals, lakes, oceans, ditches and fields — lots of fields. Bought and sold a canoe, begged rides in flats boats. Borrowed bass boats, pontoon boats, rowboats and an 11-foot army green John boat with an eighty–pound four stroke Yamaha engine that had us popping wheelies before we hit the throttle.
Gus sat up on the Alsea, crawled on the Trask, said his first words in the bayou, and took his first steps along the banks of the Fox on the Upper Peninsula. Now he runs. Down the bank, straight for the water. He says fish, bird, water, reel, backpack, boat, yeehaw! He claps his hands in front of his face then examines his palms for bugs. Leans over the side of the boat and trails his hands in the water. Quacks like a duck. Two out of five nights he sleeps for nine hours.
The trailer is small. There’s gear everywhere. Mike’s busy season is back in full swing. I spend evenings at the vice, at the computer, reading hundreds of book, studying the gazetteer. We’re always working, always fishing, tying, eating, planning, living. We eat peanut butter and jellies. The laundry constantly needs to be done. The truck needs to be vacuumed. We’re headed back east. New Hampshire, NY, ME, and then a big push back west. Chinook in December.
We’ve carried a bottle of Prosecco from the get go looking for the right moment to pop the cork. We’re waiting for magic, but in truth it’s all been magic. Which isn’t to say it’s been easy. Nine months in. Three-quarters of the way through.