So, what does a fishing photo shoot look like?

Ron, a retired principal from Santa Barbara, attempts to land a 20+ inch rainbow.

WARNING: This blog contains fish porn.

When I was in my late twenties I got the bug to write an article or story on fly fishing, so I did.  I had just read Nick Lyons’ book, “The Seasonable Angler.”  I could identify with Lyons’ conundrum of balancing family, work, and fly fishing (and of course, I added serving My Lord to that equation).  I never submitted the article to anyone, but it did light a smoldering fire.  I’m sure this blog has its roots in that early effort.

Approaching the Dave Deacon Campground from the north, 6:30 AM.

It took about thirty years for me to decide to write another article, this time for Southwest Fly Fishing (now American Fly Fishing) after fishing Dacey Reservoir for the first time last September.  I submitted the unsolicited manuscript and the editor liked it, surely not because of its quality but because they had never covered Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area before and the trout were respectably large.  Their problem with my submission was my photos; their composition might have been passable but their technical quality was not.  But, editor John Shewey liked it enough to suggest pairing me with a professional photographer to supplement the article with the high quality pictures the magazine is known for.  So, I spent the last two days of May fishing Kirch with Jeremy Allan (Jeremy Allan Photography) and his posse. 

Here is Jeremy shooting Brandon’s big bow from Dacey Reservoir.
Here was my view of same trout.
And yet another view from FisherDad.
Colter and Ben getting in on Brandon’s photo op after Jeremy got what he needed for the article.

Shewey warned me this would feel like work.  I have a pretty vivid imagination and I knew getting the elements of light and composition just right was not easy to do, and while an amateur would take hundreds of pictures hoping “the one” falls into place, the professional would take thousands.  Throw in the “fish” element and you begin to realize that large fish don’t volunteer for the opportunity to appear in a magazine, let alone the front cover.  It appears timing and luck reign on a fishing periodical photo shoot.

Brandon and Colter getting the Flycraft Stealth boats ready for launch. Note their narrow profile, and these boats weigh just 80 lbs.
Jeremy photographing Brandon rescuing a snagged fly using the Flycraft paddle boat. After the photo Ben left poor Brandon there to extract himself.
Jeremy caught me with a fish on.  It’s obvious that he’s a professional photographer.

Getting a window in Jeremy’s schedule proved a little challenging, and when we settled on this weekend the weather forecast predicted wind.  I told Jeremy that tubing Kirch without oars, or perhaps even an electric motor, in winds 20 mph and higher would be near impossible.  He reached out to Ben Scribner, creator of the Flycraft USA Stealth boat for reinforcements.  Check out the video on their website… these are killer boats for the serious angler, or anyone else that enjoys nature from the perspective of water.  Jeremy also brought with him Brandon Collett, a northern Utah fly fishing guide, and Colter Day, an entrepreneur who is seeking his way into the angling industry by building some amazing graphite/fiberglass fly rods with wonderfully creative wrappings.  Although never stated, I’m sure Jeremy brought these young bucks with him because he had no way of knowing for sure that I could catch a fish, and even more importantly they had worked with him enough to know how to announce the timing of their casts, how to hold and angle the fish to catch the light just the way Jeremy needed.

Brandon snapping Colter with his first-ever largemouth bass – the popper got him. Several 16-inch bass were caught by our group.
The ubiquitous 16-inch Dacey rainbow sporting their classic coloring.
The boys working it from the anchored Flycraft Stealths. They just killed it from there.

Imagination aside, I didn’t really know what to expect.  In the outdoors I tend to be a loaner.  I enjoy the solitude, and it allows me to fill my soul and recharge my batteries. There’s not often peace when you are raising six children and work a day job that requires constant interaction with all sorts of personalities and egos. Jeremy, Ben, Brandon, and Colter were absolutely great to hang around with, and the usual angler banter was quite amusing. They were extremely professional and knowledgeable about all aspects of fly fishing. Despite my penchant for outdoor solitude, I had a blast experiencing but a glimpse of the other side of anglers who also make their beloved hobby their profession.  Lots of single-minded dedication going on with these guys. For a different perspective check out Ben’s video of our trip highlighting his Flycraft boats.

My longest of the trip at 22 inches, but it probably weighed just 2.5 lbs due to an injury or illness in his jaw that must have affected his health.
One of two Black Crappies I landed on our visit to Cold Springs Reservoir.
This was just one of the many 19-inch rainbows we caught.
A three to four foot Great Basin Gopher snake that got into my Outlaw Escape. Colter had Jeremy shoot his rod that carries his name with the snake’s matching colors.

Speaking of those who like solitude, during this trip we ran into Ron, a retired school principal from Santa Barbara.  Ron has been coming to Kirch for eight years, turning the one-to-two-week adventure into a somewhat religious experience.  The most amazing thing about Ron is that he makes this solo journey at the age of 78.  I believe he knows Kirch better than I do.  We chatted for a while after he landed the largest trout I witnessed that day.   He provided a few tips on fishing the Adams McGill Reservoir which I’ll try my next time out.  He had a wonderful, cheery attitude about everything, and you could see how the love of teaching spilled over into his desire to share his fly fishing knowledge.  When I mentioned sighting a duck with a blue bill his face lit up.  He said it was a Ruddy Duck.  Ron said the male’s bill is blue only during mating season.  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says that male Ruddy Ducks have blackish caps that contrast with bright white cheeks. In summer, they have rich chestnut bodies with bright blue bills. In winter, they are dull gray-brown above and paler below with dull gray bills.  Females and first-year males are brownish, somewhat like winter males but with a blurry stripe across the pale cheek patch.  Ron was as excited about the vast wildlife on Kirch as he was about his fishing.

A male Ruddy Duck with his signature baby-blue bill.

Ron said it’s the solitude coupled with the fishery’s quality draws him to leave Santa Barbara for Kirch every year.  Now there’s a testimony.

The November/December 2014 edition of Southwest Fly Fishing. Jeremy’s shot of Colter and Brandon made the cover!
The inside cover TOC… feature article on page 38.

Author: FisherDad

I am a Christian who has been married to my wife for over four decades, with six children and four grandchildren so far. I have retired from a string of successful occupations as a certified public accountant, a chief financial officer, and a registered municipal advisor. I have been a fly angler for almost five decades. My one and only article submission was published by Southwest Fly Fishing magazine (now American Fly Fishing). You can learn more about me by clicking on “About” on the top of my blog page.

5 thoughts on “So, what does a fishing photo shoot look like?”

  1. Fisherdad, Beautiful pics and great story. Most amazing pic is that one with those snakes. Did they make their own way to your tube? Or did you put them in there for a photo? Scary.

  2. Chan –

    Great to hear from you! Did you get to Santa Clara River below Pine Valley yet this year? If so, how was it?

    As to the snake, it scared the heck out of Colter when he saw it slithering past the Stealth boats… he supposedly screamed and jumped at the same time and Jeremy got an action pic of that. The snake then sought refuge under the boat, so we lifted the boat. It then went into the water, but Great Basin Gopher Snakes are not water snakes so it got back to shore and then up on my Escape. That’s when Colter got the idea to lay his rod over it for a promotional photo. When the snake refused to cooperate he grabbed it by the tail and got it to wrap itself around the rod. Don’t know if I’ll see any of those pics, but it did cause a lot of excitement.

    Al the best!

    – FisherDad

  3. The campground water has been shut off for some time now, but you can camp there in the winter.

    On the lower right-hand side of my blog are “Other Websites of Interest,” and one of those is the NDOW website. There you can find weekly reports on selected fishable waters (copy/paste this link into your browser: The report from pre-Thanksgiving was that ice was forming on all the boat launches, although fishing from the dams at Cold Springs, Haymeadow, and Dacey was still possible. Usually, by December, all fishable trout reservoirs are frozen over for winter. A new NDOW report should be posted on Thursday.

    I understand the need to "get out of Dodge," so if you go post a comment on your experience.

    All the Best!

    — FisherDad

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