Category Archives: News


Bighorn River Pale Morning Dun Fishing

Pete and I snuck out of the shop yesterday afternoon to check out the 3 mile to Bighorn section, and confirm the reports we have been getting from our guides out there.  First and foremost the aquatic grass and floating weeds were not a factor at all in our fishing yesterday.  They are present but not at all in the abundance that they were 2 or 3 weeks ago.  We caught fish on dry flies, nymphs and streamers with no problem.

The fishing with PMD nymphs down there is gangbusters right now when you are fishing the right spots.  With the low flows, the drop offs, riffles and seams that are congregating the food are fairly obvious right now.  These fish need only a foot of water to feed comfortably, so don’t overlook any nook or riffle out there right now.  The key is to change your rig and set up accordingly based on the water you are fishing.  We fished everything from dry – dropper rigs to deep nymph rigs with light shot and short leash nymph rigs, where the distance between the indicator and weight was only 3 feet.  Each rig worked depending on what water we were fishing.

There are a ton of dead bugs on the water right now and the fish were particularly keyed in on baetis spinners.  Besides the spinners hoppers and flying ants took fish on the surface.

Stomach sample from the 3 rivers area of both natural PMD nymphs and there imitations

Pete Hooked Up

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Bighorn Fishing Report: Menu change

Fish in the upper 3 miles are still eating baetis nymphs and a small zebra midge works really well. The farther you go down, the more they are keying on PMD and yellow sally nymphs.

Not enough of a BWO hatch to bring them up anymore, but sporadic pods are available for spinners.

Two days this week had good winds out of the west which knocked lots of hoppers off the bluffs into the river and fish are keying in on them already.

PMD and yellow sally nymphs

Stan with a nice rainbow taken on a PMD nymph

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The Bighorn Killer Bug

Bighorn Killer Bugs

While Frank Sawyer is most famous for the Sawyer style pheasant tail, he also invented one of the best cressbug/sowbug patterns ever developed.  While in most cases his “killer bug” has been long forgotten about, this past winter I came across some yarn that reminded me of the original yarn that he used and began to tie a modern day “Bighorn Killer Bug.” The original yarn is no longer in production. Needless to say my modern adaptation of his original has become one of my go to sowbug patterns on the Bighorn River this year.  The fly is simple to tie and looks really buggy in the water.  Thanks to Ashley production tying them they are now available for sale in the shop.

Ashley knockin out a few dozen Bighorn Killer Bugs behind the counter

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Bighorn Fishing Report: Summer Fishing Conditions

bighorn river june sample

Notice the tiny midges in the bottom left corner, the trout eat them like candy

The water temp’s in the afternoon have been rising into the upper 40′s and creeping slowly to the 50 degree mark, the magic number to get the PMD’s going. With air temperatures in the 90′s we hope to see the water temperatures steadily climb and heavy emergences of PMD’s to occur.  The baetis hatch has definitely thinned out quite a bit and maybe done for the year with these very warm temperatures.  Luckily the BWO hatch certainly doesn’t owe us anything, as it created some incredible fishing over the past few months.  If you do want to target spinner falls or stray emergences fish at sun up or sun down until the PMD’s and sallies come off.

With the hot and dry fishing season that we have been having the terrestrial fishing is way ahead of schedule for this year.  If you want to pick up some fish on the surface during midday ants, beetles and grasshoppers were all present out there today during the quick float that I did from Afterbay to three mile.  A dry dropper rig fished in the shallow riffle chop is a great way to go right now.  A tungteaser or bead head pheasant tail is a great dropper bug right now.

Tiny midge larva and pupa in size 22 and 24 have been very effective under an indicator rig, especially in the upper 3.  The stomach pump picture shows them well…….

Effective Bighorn River Nymphs:  Tan and Grey Ray Charles, Pink Soft Hackle, Wondernymph PMD, Skinny Nelson, black Zebra midge, Bighorn Killer Bug

bighorn river

A view upriver from the St. Xavier Bridge


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Bighorn River June Fishing

Fishing with blue winged olives continues to dominate the fishing.  Small black stuff underneath continues to produce fish regularly throughout the day.  Pink scuds and soft hackle sowbugs have also begun to work well.  PMD Nymphs have also been taking fish, the PMD hatch is almost upon us and it is a matter to time before good emergences occur.

The moss continues to break up as the water warms and yes floating moss in water column is still an annoyance but nothing that can’t be overcome to catch a lot of fish.  It seems like right now you are either into the fish or your not, find areas without heavy moss on the bottom and you will find fish.

A Nice June Bow

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Another View

A trophy and atrophy…at first glance these words are nearly identical, but rub your eyes, grab your readers, take another look and you will see that just a little gap completely changes the meaning. One symbolizes glory, triumph, champions, celebration. The other, withering uselessness.

I am feeling a tinge of the latter these days.

Yesterday marked the end of the 50th running of the Texas Water Safari, an ultra endurance race that many of you know I competed in successfully in 2010. Now just two years later, a seemingly small gap of time, I am benched with a bad ankle feeling out of shape, out of commission and out of the game.

You may recall that over Memorial Day weekend I had a freakishly random incident with a push pole that busted my ankle. The doctor in Austin said it wasn’t broken but merely a bone contusion and prescribed moist heat packs and exercise including the stationary bike. One tour on the stationary bike produced more and more swelling plus more bruising and discoloration down into my toes. Frustration.

Meanwhile we have been at home in Alabama this week, eagerly watching every detail of the Texas Water Safari unfold online. Facebook, twitter, discussion boards, the spot tracker page…I had no fewer than six tabs open on the laptop at any given moment. Sunday morning I awoke before six and devoured any update I could find. After one full night on the river, there were many dramatic reports. My friends Max and Mike who have two Safari finishes under their belt were out of the race after breaking their boat in two! I couldn’t believe my eyes.

hell in a bucket

They were having a great race, well ahead of previous years, feeling great when BAM! In the blink of an eye they hit a submerged tree trunk and they were done. Thankfully without injury.

Other updates…the first ever racer to compete in the race on a standup paddleboard was defying all odds and was still in the race. A solo female racer crashed within earshot of her support team in the night and was out. A seasoned team of paddlers with 33 finishes among them were out after hitting a tree and getting gravel inside the composite material of the boat. And word came that one team had sounded the emergency button on their spot tracker, leading to a racer being evacuated from the river.

It seemed “The Worlds Toughest Boat Race” was living up to its reputation as always.

I missed my Safari friends. I missed being a part of the race. I missed being in good enough shape to compete. I missed my ankle not hurting.

My ankle had devolved so badly in the two weeks since the Push Pole Incident that the pain was becoming unbearable. Thank heavens The Professor took the initiative Sunday afternoon to ring his orthopedic friend who agreed to see me first thing Monday morning.

Another doctor, another set of xrays, another set of eyes, another view. Turns out my ankle has been broken this entire time.

Broken! A pretty long fracture on the outside bone just above my ankle. At first I was actually relieved because it validated how badly it had been hurting, and confirmed the gnawing sense that something was wrong. But relief quickly melted into the blues as I settled into the notion of several weeks in a boot and several days on crutches. Elevate elevate elevate, ice ice ice. This is my new life.

Ugh. No long walks here in Mobile with Little Chick. No daytrips to the beach. And my Montana trip next week? No hiking. No rowing. No trailering the boat (which I love doing.) No wade fishing.

My wings have been clipped. My social life curtailed. Exercise is kaput. Which means I am sure to become a massive lethargic cow by the time the boot comes off.

Monday was spent learning to navigate the numerous tangles of Velcro straps on this ugly boot and realizing that I actually will be getting a cardio and strength workout…on crutches. Crutches are basically an annuity program for orthopedic surgeons as they are sure to cause subsequent accidents and more injuries.

We spent the day tracking the boats in the Safari and following latest updates. The racer that had been evacuated was still in intensive care, the update on the website had an ominous tone about it. But never in my wildest dreams would I have expected the next twist. About 4pm Monday afternoon the gimp and the girl (myself Little Chick) were baking in the kitchen when my phone beeped. It was my race partner Phil and the message read:

“Brad Ellis of boat 22 died of low sodium.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was such a suckerpunch. To be clear, I did not know Brad Ellis personally, but the news of a death in the Safari felt personal to me, as I am sure it did for anyone in this race community which is really more like a family. I have come to learn Brad was 30 years old, from Dripping Springs TX and an avid outdoorsman. This was his first attempt at the TWS, his partner finished once before. He trained hard, was well prepared, had taken electrolyte pills and was generally revered as a kind, funny, soulful guy.

I’m not a journalist so I don’t really feel appropriate recounting every detail that has been reported on his death in the race. More information has emerged with the autopsy and harrowing details from interviews from racers, some of whom are friends of mine. I am a blogger, so all I can share is my individual take on this situation. Bottom line, I could not ache more for Brad Ellis’ family as well as his partner who no doubt will struggle with the trauma of that night on the river for a long time to come. It’s clear he and other paddlers acted heroically.

The news rattled me all day Monday and well into the night. I am having trouble reconciling how an event so special to me, an event that changed my life for the better, brought me new lifelong friends, bonded me closer to my husband, stretched my character and recharted my creativity and writing…how the same event changed another’s family’s life so tragically.

Love and hate are just two horns on the same goat, I know the adage. But I am having trouble coming to terms with it this week.

I will say this. The news of this young man’s passing instantly put a new lens on my silly ankle situation. I clicked into a new perspective and realized how small my challenge is. And my blessings were magnified right before my eyes. I have a husband taking wonderful care of me and helping me parent Little Chick. And I have Little Chick to help me with cooking and have fun baking and to watch movies all day long. I still get to go to Montana where my husband, dad, and friends can easily row and help me catch fish.

A little space, a small gap, a blink of an eye, a breath of a moment, sometimes that’s all it takes to take another look and see how the meaning of things can change.

The race went on. Winners were to Seadrift on Sunday middle of the night, early Monday morning. Next wave of competitors rolled in through Monday and Tuesday. I saw friends reach the finish line and felt relief with each update. I had my list of boat numbers on a notepad and checked on them every few hours.

The one providing more and more suspense was friend C.J. Hall. According to the spot tracker he and his partner were making one checkpoint after the next with little time to spare.

I first met CJ on a bay training run back in the spring of 2010. He had volunteered to help with logistics and run safety boat in the bay. Before we launched he offered to take a few nervous paddlers, myself included, over to someone’s bathroom on the property. I rode in the open back of his pickup and since I was the only female, was allowed to use the latrine first. Then I had the chance to hang out with CJ while the other guys took their turns in the bathroom.

We had a successful training run on the bay that day and sang our guts out to thwart the boredom of endless paddling. At the end, CJ joked that “I shouldn’t quit my day job to become a singer any time soon.”

Several weeks later when the race was delayed and I found myself without a race partner, CJ called me and offered to do the race with me. He had not successfully completed the Safari and had not been training for this particular race but felt bad for me and offered to be my partner. I could not have been more touched. I ended up racing with Phil, but never forgot CJ’s generosity of spirit and felt a surge of comfort to see him during the race volunteering at places like the Ottine Dam portage and the seawall near the finish.

CJ was competing this year with a partner and they were chasing checkpoint cutoffs the whole time. By Monday, there was a collective intrigue online and among Safari friends to cheer and root for CJ, a guy with no Safari patch who still loved the race so much he volunteered year after year to be a part of it. But this year, the 50th anniversary, he was back in it.

And he was still in it Monday morning, chugging to the Saltwater Barrier to beat the 8am cutoff. I was hounding the Safari social media guy for updates. I was hitting refresh like a maniac. News came shortly after 8am, of the eight boats trying to reach the Saltwater Barrier checkpoint in time, only one made it: CJ. He arrived at 7:49 with only 11 minutes to spare.

Whew! Cheers shouted out within our house. Little Chick was screaming for CJ, I was too. The Professor cheered from his office as I texted him updates. Then the next reality for CJ…the finish line. He had five hours to make it down the delta of the Guadalupe River and across the bay to the finish line by 1pm. Ah! This was better than any reality television.

Everyone was rooting for CJ online. People wanted updates. After the pall on this community for a couple of days, it garnered everyone together, not to ignore the tragedy of Brad’s passing, but to survive it. The Safari needed this. In an unspoken way, we all needed CJ to make it.

I was about to vomit it was so nerve-wracking.

Little Chick and I baked and cooked and hit refresh non stop. He was in the bay. He was rounding the corner. Across the barge canal. And then the update came. HE MADE IT! He made it! He would get his patch! He and his partner pulled their boat across the finish line under the flags flying at half mast in Seadrift. So touching.

Brad Ellis and CJ Hall..I shed a tear over both this week.

CJ and his partner finished in 95th place at 12:27pm, setting a record for the longest time ever to complete the Texas Water Safari. And perhaps one of the more meaningful finishes to so many. Because as my grandfather used to say, “Easter always follows Good Friday.”

It’s been an emotional week on many fronts. Yes, the muscles in my leg are already beginning to go soft in this boot. But it’s so clear that the more important muscle we should never let atrophy is the heart. We need to have both our compassion and our passion tested, rested and ready at all times. So on the 50th anniversary of the Texas Water Safari, from my propped up vantage point in Mobile Alabama, I’d like to give a virtual trophy to Brad Ellis and CJ Hall. Because heartache and hope are never far apart.

Congratulations to CJ. Condolences to the Ellis family. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you always. Especially on the second Saturday of June.


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Again With The Triple Entendre: Metamorphosis

This triple entendre gimmick is probably only fun for me and a few other english majorettes out there but that fact not withstanding, I’m going to try and pull it off once again. I’ve done previous triple entendre posts on RUN OFF, HATCH and SUNRISE, each offering at least one fly fishing related definition. Today’s theme is METAMORPHOSIS. So here we go, three different cuts at it…

#1 Metamorphosis (bugs)

In the context of bug life, and thus the lives of fly fishermen, the word METAMORPHOSIS is a “the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form in two or more distinct stages.” Larva, pupa, nymphs, emergers, adults, spinners. All bug stages and terms we will be tossing around this summer on Montana rivers in a Machiavellian attempt to figure out which flavor stage is most tantalizing to the fish we are trying to catch at any given moment.

In just ten days I will be back in Montana surrounded by millions of gabillions of bug metamorphoses hoping to emulate just one at the right time, hoping to trick just one nice trout – thus sparking a little spiritual metamorphosis of my own.

#1 Metamorphosis (mythology, poetry, art, film)

Way back in 8AD the Roman poet Ovid completed his Latin poem, Metamorphoses, which is considered a masterpiece of the Golden Age of Latin literature. He hits many highlights of Greek mythology, focusing on stories of love. He tells the story of Pygmalion, a sculptor who falls madly in love with a statue he carved. The foundation of this story is the basis for the beloved musical My Fair Lady. For those of you anti-Americans who haven’t seen this gem (with mostly British actors, yes I see the discrepancy), the storyline is simple. Snooty phonetics professor Henry Higgins plucks a poor, uncouth Eliza Doolittle off the streets of London to prove he can turn her into an elegant lady by first teaching her to speak properly. Then, of course, he falls in love with her. But not before spontaneously bursting into song on occasion.

YouTube Preview Image

I love this movie. Know every word to every song. I can do cockney Eliza, proper Eliza. Love it all.

#3 Metamorphosis (our new kitchen)

Another definition of metamorphosis is “a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means.” The construction on our kitchen in Mobile is complete and I have to say, it damn near flirts with being supernatural. The transformation is radical. We started somewhere around here…

kitchen before

And now, a mere 2+ months later, we are here…


By George I think we got it! I admit, like Pygmalion, I am falling a bit in love with the masterpiece we created. For us, it’s a thing of poetry. More cabinet space, more counter space, more light. Fresh, clean new appliances.


I really wanted the back door to look like Number Ten Downing Street. I would have loved layers and layers of black lacquer but I settled for a few coats of oil paint. I am very pleased.


I am also loving the unlacquered brass hardware we selected. And the white subway tile with dark grout. Not the most original, but love it nonetheless.


To add a few unique touches, I had these two lucite/brass handles made for just two drawers and they turned out magnifique!


I love this view walking in from the living room. I wonder how long that counter by the back door will remain uncluttered.


Another touch we are crazy about? The new-to-us pineapple chandelier we found on ebay.


I am over the moon for the farmhouse sink and The Professor loves his magic touch technology faucet so he doesn’t get raw chicken juice all over the handle when he’s coming in from the grill.


We are very happy with how everything came together. It has been so much fun to work on this project together, all the little decisions we made, the bargain hunting, the places we decided to splurge. It’s evolved into a special backdrop for all the meals and cooking and laughs and memories that always seem to unfold in the kitchen. So in a way, the metamorphosis has just begun…

That said, some things remain constant. We had to move back in some culinary souvenirs from a few great fly-fishing trips. So while I’m botching some overly ambitious recipe I’ve taken on, I can daydream about bonefishing in Exuma or chasing tarpon in the Keys. Spoonrest easy my friends, fishing is never far from our minds.

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Rising Stars Fell on Alabama Last Night

I wasn’t the only Austin belle ringing and rocking in Alabama last night. The red-hot Austin band, The Trishas, stopped in Mobile on their southeast tour and I couldn’t believe my luck to actually be in my Hometown#2 at the right time. This young group of four uber-talented chicks is all the talk of the Austin music scene these days but I keep missing the chance to see them. Imagine my luck to find them scheduled to play at The Shed barbecue joint in Mobile just one day after I hit the ground in Alabama. This stroke of serendipity called for a girls nite out…

girls nite out

We all loved the Trishas! We were instant fans. I felt like I was watching a gaggle of Kelly Willises up on stage. Each one (apparently none named Trisha) could sing so well it’d make the hairs on your arm stand on end. They take turns on lead vocals and switch instruments and introduce one song after the next that someone in the group had written. Harmonies so complex and beautiful to make a grown man cry. These girls are talented. Seriously talented. And the covers they chose spoke volumes. They rocked one of my all-time favorites, a Guy Clark song “She Ain’t Going Nowhere She’s Just Leaving.”

We are the newest biggest Trishas fans.

with robin

This was my first trip to The Shed in Mobile and I have to say, I loved it! Big open space, warm service, great food. The place was full and the crowd was way into the music. It was a good scene.

License plates and barbecue plates…

the shed mobile

I fell in love with The Shed when I saw this gem of my dreams.


We had a ball, it was one of those specially charmed nights, dipped in honey. After the show we checked out the merch table and chatted with a few girls from the band. This is Trisha-on-the-far-left-of-the-stage Savannah Welch, daughter of famed singer songwriter Kevin Welch.

savannah trishas

And because I was wishing each one of you were there to hear their spectacular music, I snapped a few video clips for you to enjoy while you avoid that next item on your todo list. Take a listen…

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Bighorn River Fishing Report: steady as she goes

The baetis are still around but thinning out. Still some dry fly action but the activity level really depends on calmer days and some cloud cover. Baetis nymphs still working well but midge pupa are gaining importance as the baetis wane.

Below Three Mile, PMD and yellow sally nymphs are very abundant and have the attention of fish along with caddis pupa.

PMD and yellow sally nymphs are crawling all over in lots of area so the dry fly action on those should really start to pick up in the not too distance future

Large PMD nymph

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Bighorn River Report: If it’s not baetis, you aren’t fishing

The baetis hatch just keeps growing in intensity. Fish are keying in on nymphs, emergers and adults. Small dark midge pupa are still in the diet but once the baetis get moving around, the fish are all over it.

Dry fly fishing has been tough for a couple days because of the wind but today was calm, overcast and spectacular.

Flows are low, water is clear. Come test your mettle against the Bighorn trout.

Fritz with a nice rainbow on an RS2

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