200 fish on the fly

I set myself a goal of catching 200 fish this year, on the fly rod. To catch that many, I will have to include all fish... small, medium, large, whatever I catch. Then I can separate out the good fish (good size, good species, good experience) from the all the other fish. I haven't started to count all the pictures I took, and wondered how many I released without pictures (I assume somewhere in the 20-30 range). We'll see how it goes with this goal, and how many sizable fish I get to count. Here are some fish from weekend outing with my friend.


standing in a river and waving a stick

and catching a small fish...


good reading

Like for many, an important part of the fishing experience for me is the reading that comes with it. Generally, most devoted fishermen spend some amount of time researching and reading on the topics and other useful information that allow them to fish in the first place (weather, locations, regulations) or catch more fish (tips, technical data, species behavioral info). There is another kind of reading that I find equally and sometime more interesting are those stories about the concepts of fishing. Sometimes it’s about how we relate with a particular fish, the beauty of nature, the friendships that are formed while fishing, and sometime about not catching any fish at all. The romance of fishing can make a situation more beautiful than it ever can be in reality. It’s like being in love, and the fact that you are in love makes each moment extraordinary and each individual precious.

Fortunately, there are many good reading on fishing and often I find myself at this section of bookstores. These days, I am equally fascinated with discovering new books & rediscovering authors I’ve read from the past, as much as catching fish itself. I’ve had the opportunity to discover John Gierach when my friend Jim gave me one of his books, and since then I have become a pretty big fan. I am reading his books one by one, and savoring each page. Although he has many books and I have not read many of them, I find myself reading extra slow sometime, because I want to discover his stories in full. John Gierach writes in a way that is refreshingly simple, seamlessly elegant, and it feels as genuine as any writing can get. You see, I don’t have long history with fishing, and my childhood memory is not filled with fishing or with nature. In fact I’ve grown up pretty much the opposite, born in the heart of one of the largest cities in the world, and I’ve spent most of my life in major cities like that. I’ve had my share of camping and exposure to nature in my childhood, but I don’t recall when the car or comfort of a house was out of sight. I sometimes feel that I am reading his books so carefully, in order to make up for some of that experience that I wished I had growing up. If that is a reason for someone to read books on those subject, then I guess John Gierach is probably not a bad choice. If you fish, and want to understand what American fisherman’s thoughts are made of, then I highly recommend picking up some of his books (Trout Bum, Even Brook Trout Get the Blues, The View from Rat Lake, Where the Trout Are All as Long as Your Leg, Sex, Death, and Fly-Fishing, Still Life with Brook Trout, Standing in a River Waving a Stick, Dances with Trout, Another Lousy Day in Paradise, At the Grave of the Unknown Fisherman, Signs of Life, Death Taxes And Leaky Waders…among others).

Excerpt from: Dances With Trout – One Fish
… A dozen things could have conspired against getting the right drift at the moment the fish was there to see it, and even then he might have decided he didn’t like the fly or he might have taken a natural right next to it. In other words, the spiritually profitable attitude here is not pride but humility.

Excerpt from: Standing In A River Waving A Stick - Grizzly Central
… they were romantic as hell, being trout that could trace their ancestry directly back to the last ice age with no interruptions, no detours through a hatchery. They were pretty gullible, too. Even with no hatch on, they’d rocket off the bottom of a four- or five foot- deep pool for a big dry fly without a hint of suspicion. There’s a kind of fisherman who calls wild cutthroats stupid – and I guess I’ve said that myself a time or two, just to make the point – but really they’re just unused to the idea of human fisherman, without a clue that some godawful shaving brush of a fly could be anything but real, edible bug.

Excerpt from: Standing In A River Waving A Stick – Belief
Down at the core of every fisherman’s heart is the belief that on any day something wonderful and unlikely could be made to happen, and that if you’re careful and patient it could happen to you. It’s not quite as simple as the gut certainty that there’s always a bigger fish in the water than the biggest one you ever caught there (a fish can be cosmic for reasons other than size), but that probably comes close enough without getting too mystical about it.

local waters

I fish around in different places, but there is something nice about fishing local waters near home. You have built up knowledge, and as season become best for fishing elsewhere, it also becomes good for local waters. Here are some fishes I met around local waters past days. I am still waiting for the run of the kings, and when they do, I plan to be there.


Throwing Flies in Taiwan

A day before my trip, I combed through the web, searching for any clues and evidence of fly fishing in Taiwan… I gathered a few bits and pieces here and there, mostly trails from forum discussions about fishing in general, but nothing I would call solid. My trip was set to start tomorrow and I was wondering if I should bring any gear at all, as the possibilities of fishing a river in Taiwan seems to slowly drift away. Then like a rising fish that comes after hours of seemingly empty waters, I find what looks like a Taiwanese on-line store for fishing gear. The site is only in Chinese, so I cannot decipher beyond that it seems to sell some gear, but even that wasn’t clear at this point. I jot down the phone number and then shot off to the airport.

It’s almost 8pm in Taipei City, and with some help from my local friends, I am able to locate an address. I soon find myself in the cab, heading to this address. It turns out to be a mountain climbing gear store, but then I notice some rods sticking out at a corner…. a very small but carefully selected section of fly fishing gear. Fish on. Through a series of questions, I am able to get a phone number of the owner of this fly fishing section. I make the call on the spot. I speak with a couple of people before I was able speak with a person who greeted me with “Hello, this is Caddis”. Just from the name, I knew this had to the be the person I wanted to speak with. I spoke the international language of desperate angler – “hello… hi, I am visiting from Chicago and I really want to fish here – can you help me”. To my surprise, Caddis spoke great English and I sensed a British accent. I was looking for a guide service, and Caddis explained to me the basic fishing situation in Taiwan. Discussion moved to a potential date, and we exchanged email addresses. I smiled all the way, on the drive back to the hotel. I had a date, and we were going to figure out where to fish. Lucky for me, this blind cast landed me a MBA graduate from UK, who also happens to be one of the pioneers of fly-fishing in Taiwan. I had work the next few days, but with possibility of meeting Taiwanese fish in the mountain rivers here, my step had a spring in it the whole time.

Friday night, after a few email exchanged I was ready to go. I only had a few hours to sleep, but came 5am, my eyes were wide open and I was ready. It was a warm Saturday morning as I stood and waited for the car to pick me up in front of the hotel. This is a busy intersection and I wasn’t sure how I would recognize the car. When it finally pulled up, there was no mystery that this was my ride. The car was tattooed all over with fishing brands, and on the front windshield was written in big characters, “Nature, Fish, Fly, Man”… This was Wesley. We were originally planning to go fish for baby tarpon near the harbor, but there was change in plans. Caddis hooked up with Wesley and we were heading up to the river valleys in southern Taipei county. We were very fortunate to have met Wesley, as he is researcher of this river, and knew it well. He explained to us the strict rules of this river and creek, and about the various species (20+) that live in these waters. He is also a writer for various sporting magazines, as well as an consultant to fly rod manufacturers. He’s already designed 5 or more series of rods. He’s just returned from his fishing trip to England, and was soon to go to Montana later part of this year. He is also an expert in waters of Japan.

The minute we walked onto the waters, I can see good sized fish scramble for cover. They were surprisingly large for the size of the creek and my heart was racing. My casting was faster than it should have been, and I couldn’t contain my excitement at the sight of these fish. As the day went on, and heat pounding us, I slowed down (not be choice). I was hotter than I have ever been in a long time, and I could barely keep the sweat out of my eyes. Finally, I could not take it anymore and I took a dive into one of the deeper holes. After I cooled down, a few more casts, and fish were on. These fishes are called top mouth (their mouth points upwards), and I believe they are herring of some sort. They fight well and spooked fairly easy. I did not have a fly that would sink fast enough so I ended up using a crazy Charlie and this seemed to do the trick. The creek is beautiful and is sized just right, with several deep pools along the hike. A few catches for all of us, then we wrapped up and headed off to lunch.

We ended the day with a great late lunch, and great conversation over tea (the BEST tea). Here is where Caddis explained to me about how he has trained the fish near his home with his famous "toast" fly. That was great story, perfectly fitting for the situation. I am very thankful to have met Caddis & Wesley, and I look forward to seeing them in US & Korea for some bass & trout action. Thanks again for great day, guys! See you soon.

* I will eventually provide links to Wesley & Caddis, but for the moment I will savor this find just a while longer. Shoot me a note if you’re interested in getting hooked up in Taiwan.


fish brought tears to my eyes

My friend Charles went up to the Saranac and Ausable River in the Adirondack region, to hook up with these beautiful fish. Call me freak if you want, but when I saw these fish, I almost cried. I think that’s what happens to me when I see my friends with good looking fish. I don’t know if it’s because I also want to catch fish like that, or if it’s just the sight of something beautiful brings out the sensitive me. (or maybe I've been thinking about fish way too much!) Whatever it is, it’s good to see my friend Charles catching fish in creeks and rivers, him being mainly a salt water angler. Great fish Charles!