Some Trout

A small collection of trout vignettes from previous posts…


Brown Trout (S. trutta)

The first truly big American trout that I ever caught was a brown. The first New Zealand trout that I ever caught was a brown. The first Tasmanian trout that I ever caught was a brown. The first Russian trout that I ever caught was a brown. The first English trout that I ever caught was a brown. The first…beginning to see a pattern here?

I love brown trout. They have figured huge in my angling life, and for me, a heavily spotted, hook-jawed brown, with flanks of butter and fins of gold, will always be a poster-trout for fly fishing.


Rainbow Trout (O. mykiss)

In my early fly-fishing days (when I was a good deal shorter than I am now), I was obsessed with catching a trout longer than 20-inches. As it turned out, the first fish to break that barrier was a rainbow, taken on a damselfly imitation on a lake in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Strangely, though, that fish doesn’t stand out as much as another big rainbow—a fish of about seven pounds—that I caught on my first trip to New Zealand when I was thirteen.

The NZ fish had taken a nymph deep in a canyon pool, and proceeded to bolt downstream through a cliff-lined section of the gorge. I followed—eventually swimming at one point—before landing the trout on a sandbar around the next bend. Wearing nothing but 1982-vintage breathable waders (also known widely as “blue jeans”), the chill of the water was almost as breathtaking as the fish itself!


Yellowstone Cutthroat (O. clarki bouvieri)

Perhaps my favorite trout on a dry fly. Thinking of the dog-days of August—a long, hot hike; dry, pine-scented air; gleaming, pellucid water; and a rise of antici……….pation.

My youthful days on the Yellowstone, Slough Creek, and in the Pelican Valley taught me the meaning of patience when it came to dry-fly risers. Whether I was casting a beetle, a Griffith’s Gnat, or a PMD dun, the cutthroat of the world’s first national park took their sweet time in arranging a meeting. Sadly, the trout are not what they once were, and those fish-filled days of youth have become a longing memory…


Brook Trout (Char) (S. fontinalis)

One of the single greatest weeks of my fly-fishing life was spent on Canada’s Sutton River, pursuing brookies in wilderness conditions. The fishing, with everything from small dries to meaty streamers to chugging mice, was spectacular. Add to it the gliding freedom of a canoe, the crisp air of the late-summer mornings, and a backdrop of dazzling midnight auroras, and it was a time not to be forgotten.

I also caught the largest “squaretail” of my life on that trip—a resident fish that topped 25-inches, with a slab-like body and craggy, hooked jaw. The fish shown above is one of the Sutton natives, taken on a leech imitation in the misty morning hours, somewhere between lake and sea…


  1. Ted Pardy says:

    I wondering if you have any published collections of your stunning fishing art?


    Ted Pardy (beginning watercolorist)

  2. JB says:

    Ted—I don’t have any books or other collections that focus on my illustration work. I suppose I’d need a coherent collection to do so, and my stuff tends to be article or “how-to” book focused, not collection focused, and thus all over the map. I do have an “art-heavy” book idea that I’ve been mulling over for the last 7-8 years. It would certainly have more than basic illustrations in it, and might make a nice text in which to really do something significant. We’ll see where that goes….

    I should note, of course, that the Drawing Flies 52 project may indeed see some sort of collection at the end of the year. Jeff and I have made no firm plans in that regard, but I’d be surprised if we didn’t do something with the year’s efforts.

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