Talk all you want about so-called “advancements in fly fishing” -- ozone hole-depleting fluorocarbon leaders, boron rods with price tags equivalent to your monthly mortgage, and now waders with front zippers so you can relieve yourself while never having to vacate your coveted spot on the river…
Forget the fancy gear! What you really need to catch more trout, salmon or stripers is to get a good-tempered dog, the kind of dog that encourages you to get outside fishing all year long … a fish dog.
[Sandy the Australian shepherd helps dad row the drift boat. Photo: Duncan Roe]
A good fish dog doesn’t mind hanging out in the driftboat in section A of the Green when it’s snowing so hard you have to shovel the boat a couple of times to keep from sinking. A good fish dog keeps you warm when your 30-degree bag gets wet two days into a “summer” backpack trip into the Winds and you’re piled up drinking bourbon and playing cards in the tent while a nasty storm rages outside. A good fish dog always leads the way, rustling up bears, cougars, rattlesnakes and skunks. A good fish dog doesn’t call you out when you recount the day’s triumphs with inflated sizes or quantities.
Fish dogs with the wrong attitude or lineage dash headlong into fragile spring creeks, bark annoyingly at water birds, and probably aren’t athletic enough to balance on the bed of a pickup during long, washboardy approaches. Lesser fish dogs are better left home on the porch or at the parlor -- they’re too sissy for ticks, foxtails, and porcupine quills.
Superior angling hounds will kiss your catch as eagerly as those celebrity TV bassmasters. At the mere sight of rods and waders, they’ll leap into your travel rig and pack themselves invisibly into the smallest corner to avoid being left behind. They’ll go for days without proper food, subsisting on Slim Jims and potato chips, lapping up tipped-over camp beers. A proper fish dog has completed his or her critically important role when, at the end of another fish-filled day, the fire’s burning low and the angling brotherhood/sisterhood is filling an imaginary calendar with more fish and more fish dog adventures…
[Kissing the catch photo by Matt O'Conner. All other photos by Casey CEO Sheahan.]