Why You Need a Fish Dog

3 Min Read  /  Fly Fishing

Safeunderfoot_2Talk 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]

Sandyridingoutstorm_2_3A good fish dog doesn’t mind hanging out in the driftboat in section Aof the Green when it’s snowing so hard you have to shovel the boat acouple of times to keep from sinking. A good fish dog keeps you warmwhen your Secretpass_2_230-degree bag gets wet two days into a “summer” backpack tripinto the Winds and you’re piled up drinking bourbon and playing cardsin the tent while a nasty storm rages outside. A good fish dog alwaysleads the way, rustling up bears, cougars, rattlesnakes and skunks. Agood fish dog doesn’t call you out when you recount the day’s triumphswith inflated sizes or quantities.

Fish dogs with the wrong attitude or lineage dash headlong into fragilespring creeks, bark annoyingly at water birds, and probably aren’tathletic enough to balance on the bed of a pickup during long,washboardy approaches. Lesser fish dogs are better left home on theporch or at the parlor — they’re too sissy for ticks, foxtails, andporcupine quills.

P3100005_2_3Superior angling hounds will kiss your catch as eagerly as thosecelebrity TV bassmasters. At the mere sight of rods and waders, they’llleap into your travel rig and pack themselves invisibly into thesmallest corner to avoid Sandyangpass1_2_2being left behind. They’ll go for days withoutproper food, subsisting on Slim Jims and potato chips, lapping uptipped-over camp beers. A proper fish dog has completed his or hercritically important role when, at the end of another fish-filled day,the fire’s burning low and the angling brotherhood/sisterhood isfilling an imaginary calendar with more fish and more fish dogadventures…

[Kissing the catch photo by Matt O’Conner. All other photos by Casey CEO Sheahan.]

Related Stories

Home Pool, Sulphur Creek: Losing a Favorite Fishing Spot to Climate Change
When you lose your trout stream to climate change, where do you go to find yourself? It was late September and the creek ran clear and low out of the West Elks in southwestern Colorado. My favorite time of year: Through the V of the ravine upstream I could see the shoulders of Mount Gunnison…
When you lose your trout stream to climate change, where do you go to find yourself? It was late September and the creek ran clear and low out of the West Elks in southwestern Colorado. My favorite time of year: Through the V of the ravine upstream I could see the shoulders of Mount Gunnison…
Peter Heller
7 min Read
Bahamas Bonefish Conservation with Aaron Adams
I recently had the opportunity to tag along with two of the world’s leading bonefish researchers for a weekend of fishing Grand Bahama Island out of East End Lodge. Dr. Aaron Adams serves as the director of science and conservation for Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT), a non-profit based in Miami whose mission is to conserve…
I recently had the opportunity to tag along with two of the world’s leading bonefish researchers for a weekend of fishing Grand Bahama Island out of East End Lodge. Dr. Aaron Adams serves as the director of science and conservation for Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT), a non-profit based in Miami whose mission is to conserve…
Nick Roberts
9 min Read
Civil Rights and Bonefishing in Bimini
“It happened right there—just off that mangrove island,” Ansil Saunders points, recollecting the day in 1971 that his client, Jerry Lavenstein, a now-deceased sportsman from Virginia Beach, Virginia, caught a 16-pound bonefish on eight-pound test and a live shrimp. That fish was an all-tackle world record, one that still stands. Saunders is a lanky man…
“It happened right there—just off that mangrove island,” Ansil Saunders points, recollecting the day in 1971 that his client, Jerry Lavenstein, a now-deceased sportsman from Virginia Beach, Virginia, caught a 16-pound bonefish on eight-pound test and a live shrimp. That fish was an all-tackle world record, one that still stands. Saunders is a lanky man…
Brian Irwin
9 min Read
How Yvon Chouinard Taught My Kids About Trout Fishing
As the kids grow older, it becomes clearer and clearer to me how precious, and short, our time is together. It’s also become more important than ever to me that they spend time with key people in my life—friends and mentors who’ve inspired me and helped along the way—in the hopes that a little wisdom…
As the kids grow older, it becomes clearer and clearer to me how precious, and short, our time is together. It’s also become more important than ever to me that they spend time with key people in my life—friends and mentors who’ve inspired me and helped along the way—in the hopes that a little wisdom…
Dylan Tomine
5 min Read
The Salmon Foxtrot: The Wisdom of Fishermen
Back in Tokyo, for a break. Just in need of a change, you know, “to get away from things.” Having worked hard all summer long, there couldn’t be more of a contrast between reeling in salmon on a river in Swedish Lapland and heading to Tokyo. For me, working hard means fishing hard and playing…
Back in Tokyo, for a break. Just in need of a change, you know, “to get away from things.” Having worked hard all summer long, there couldn’t be more of a contrast between reeling in salmon on a river in Swedish Lapland and heading to Tokyo. For me, working hard means fishing hard and playing…
Håkan Stenlund
6 min Read
Lessons from a Simple Fly
Modern-day fly fishing, like much in life, has become exceedingly complex, with high-tech gear and a confusing array of flies and terminal tackle. The newly revised second edition of our book Simple Fly Fishing,  written by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and fishermen Craig Mathews and Mauro Mazzo, reveals that the best way to catch trout is simply—with…
Modern-day fly fishing, like much in life, has become exceedingly complex, with high-tech gear and a confusing array of flies and terminal tackle. The newly revised second edition of our book Simple Fly Fishing,  written by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and fishermen Craig Mathews and Mauro Mazzo, reveals that the best way to catch trout is simply—with…
Yvon Chouinard
11 min Read
Finding Excuses to Extend a Fly-Fishing Trip in Argentina
At first light, a toucan comes flying over the patio and sits in an old tree in front of the house. The bird stares at me as I have my first sip of coffee. Then another toucan lands in the tree, followed by a whole flock. I get up and snap a picture of the…
At first light, a toucan comes flying over the patio and sits in an old tree in front of the house. The bird stares at me as I have my first sip of coffee. Then another toucan lands in the tree, followed by a whole flock. I get up and snap a picture of the…
Håkan Stenlund
5 min Read
“Real Life” Science with the Wild Fish Conservancy
Both of my kids love their science classes in school, and Skyla often mentions wanting to be a marine biologist when she grows up. So when the field biologists from the Wild Fish Conservancy invited us to participate in some beach-seine sampling, as part of their project to assess juvenile salmon habitat around Puget Sound, we jumped…
Both of my kids love their science classes in school, and Skyla often mentions wanting to be a marine biologist when she grows up. So when the field biologists from the Wild Fish Conservancy invited us to participate in some beach-seine sampling, as part of their project to assess juvenile salmon habitat around Puget Sound, we jumped…
Dylan Tomine
3 min Read
Popular searches