Photoshop and the Gimp..

Curiosity is lying in wait for every secret.  “Ralph Waldo Emerson “

Every now and then I see a photograph that has some really obvious landmarks.  Houses, road signs, rocks, hills, and dams just to name a few.  So bad, and so obvious people will even mention in the comments section mentioning the spot.

On the flip side, some people just erase the background.  Usually it ends up in a blobby white or blue strip to mimic the sky and water.  These photos, which usually have epic fish, also distract from the one thing you are showing off, the fish!!!

So, if you want to show a sweet fish off without giving the spot away and not make it slightly painful to look at, use a photo editing program!

Photoshop, depending on the version retails into the hundreds of dollar.  Not something that everyone’s budget can withstand.  It is really powerful however.  You can do nearly everything with Photoshop and, in the hands of the right photographer can really make an image standout..

Gimp on the other hand is FREE!  Yes, really, it is free.  Not going to try to sell you anything, or there is no “30 day trial period.”  It belongs to a class of software called “open source” and you do not have to feel like a criminal downloading it.  It is free and legal to download here!!!!   But, it is a little bit cumbersome and not as powerful.  But, it gets the job done….. For free…

Now I took an image and saved the original.  Then, I took one image and edited it in Gimp and one in Photoshop.  I made an honest effort to make both of them look good, not necessarily the same, but good.  I kept my editing time to 15 min per photo as well.  I used just a few techniques to eliminate hard lines and recognizable objects.  Here are a couple ways I went about the camouflaging.

Copy and Paste:  By selecting a box, or even better, a random shape and copying it you can paste the same selection and move it over to cover up a recognizable object.  Beware however, if you copy and paste a selection of trees and bushes and place them over water or sky, you will most likely end up with a hard edge.  Hard edges are distracting and do not look natural.  Also, copying and pasting one bush in multiple spots is also a giveaway that you have been tinkering with your photo.

The Healing Tool: It actually looks like a bandaid on both Photoshop and Gimp.  This is what I use to get rid of hard edged lines when I am trying to blend.  It can be overdone and can get a little blurry.  It does however look better than the smudge tool.

Flip Image:  If you flip the image you really can throw off people’s brains. You can do this in Photoshop and Gimp by going to the “Image” button one the command bar.

Here is what I came up with.


This is the original. I did not like the rocks in the background. Had these fish been a little larger and in not such a popular spot, I don’t think I would be showing the original.


In this photo I used Photoshop to cover the rocks with vegetation. I then used the band aid tool to soften the hard edges. I added a rock to the left of the screen and then finished it with an image flip. I did make one small mistake though. Can you find it?!  This photo almost looks like a lake.  Maybe it is?


This photo is finished with GIMP. I kept the shore straighter and was more careful with my vegetation. I actually like this one the best of all them…


Oh look, a sweet double.. AND a slime blob!!! No good!

Keep people guessing!!!!

Rolling Fly Tying Box of Doom…

“These brook trout will strike any fly you present, provided you don’t get close enough to present it.”  – Dick Blalock

So, in the past I grew accustomed to sitting at a desk of some sort and tying.  All of my tools were generally kept in the same spot.  My bodkin even had it’s own spot, I jabbed it into my old office chair that I sat in.  That would usually get all the head cement off, and I would pull it out the next time I needed it.  Everything had a set spot and so did I, right at my desk.

But, with a move as well as enjoying my time tying with others, I have needed something different.  I almost did not buy this tool box, but I walked back to it a few times, and finally thought if nothing else a good way for my fly tying stuff to be in one spot for my move.

Turns out it is great to tie anywhere.  While others are struggling to find stuff on an open table, mine is usually kept clean and materials can be found quickly.  Goes in my truck, either in the cabin or in the back.  It fell onto it’s side the other day in the back of the truck.  I found only two items that had slipped to the drawer below.  I am impressed.  Not for everyone, but certainly I am meeting more people that have their gear in a few places.

Looking into the future, if my fly tying binges continue, I will just buy one more and expand.  I am giving it a couple of months.



Spaces in Between…

“Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature.”  C.S. Lewis

Well, I have been busy.  I was hoping to write more this winter but that did not work out at all.  Such is life.  I feel newly inspired to get back to it.  Going to be a great year.  Snow packs are looking A-Okay so far this year for Colorado and levels are better than last in the reservoirs.  Hopefully we are not stuck with much more fire, and damage.  And of course, hopefully more water for the fish.

Which, if we have better sustained flows than last year something is going to happen, and pay attention.  Day after day the same spots get hounded on Deckers.  Even in skinny water, trout move around a bit.  They find smaller secondary areas, something just small enough you may just miss it.  It also may just hold one to three trout.  But, while others are hammering away at the Crapper Run, I have moved on to some spots in between…

How many times have you heard, “Not a lot of fish here, that bald eagle scares the shit out of them.” I have heard it a couple times when I am on new water.  You may have heard a variation.  But, lets face it.  There is some truth to that, except we are giant birds of prey in their little trouts mind.

Now, this occurs, movement of fish because of pressure, even in lower flows.  There are not as many spots, but they find them.  When the water level rises these spots become more numerous but less pronounced, especially if the water is off color.  Winter is a great time to get out now and look over your water.  Look for any changes that have occurred and note what you would think would be a great secondary hole in higher water.  They are certainly there, you just need to find them.

What is the pay off?  Waving at someone as you walk by the everyday spot and moving on to a fresh spot, full of fish and it was often looked over.  The fish in those spaces in between are easier to catch.

Why do you think I put my clients in front of willows for photographs?  To keep attention away from the little spots.  Ask Jen, we walked right past a sweet hole and I said something like, “awesome hole, come back sometime.. but we are skipping it.”

Space in between fish..

Willows.. I pointed out a 18” wide by 36” long strip of sand and said, “right there..” It was there. I had found it in shallower water earlier in the week, then the flows came up just a bit and it held roughly 4-6 fish for about a week.


Bet you haven’t seen a picture from that angle before on Deckers.

Give Me Some of that Old Time Religion

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.”  ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Let me start by saying I have written this post around five times.  Each time I just deleted it and started over.  I never do that.  So this is a special topic to me.

I can spot it from a mile away.  As soon as a kid steps out of his car at 7am.  Digital ADHD.  Not any sort of normal Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.  Full on Digital Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or “DD”.  This type is scary.

Back in my time (20 or so years ago), kids with ADHD were few and far between.  So were the kids with peanut allergies or needed gluten free.  Seriously, who knew someone with a gluten free lunch?  There were no “borderline” cases either.

Today we are struck with kids that are stuck on computers, video games, tv, dvd, blueray, phone apps, Facebook, Twitter, the internet and so on.  Kids these days have phones!!!  That is the only good digital thing, but I will get back to that…  They cannot go one day with out the Social Media that surrounds their new international social life.

So what?  Are times changing?  OR are parents letting their children watch a portable DVD at a restaurant to parent for them?  You know what my family did at a restaurant, we talked and spent time as a family. 

Again, with most of my blogs, how does this have to do with fishing?  Well, my friends and I would jump on our bikes and ride down to the nearest fishing hole almost daily when we were growing up.  We explored miles of stream and caught fish.  We packed a lunch and got outside.  Nintendo, which had just made it’s release on American markets, took a backseat to outside.  We adapted and gained self-reliance.

With all the crazy people running around these days…. OR, the perception of a lot of crazy people running around, few people want to let their kids out to play in a local park alone.  They cannot ride their bikes a couple miles away to explore the woods and drop a line in the water.  Instead they are left with a digital world to explore.

Actually, it is safer to let our children out now than when we were kids.  According to the Christian Science Monitor, crime is at it’s lowest rate since 1963.  Crime rate article by Christian Science Monitor.

What kids do not have a cell phone these days?  Not only that, they have GPS.  911 is right at hand.  Cell phones are great to keep track of your kids.  My generation relied on a payphone miles away from where we were wandering about.

When it comes down to it, I am not going to be the one to tell you how to parent your kids.  I will say though, I can tell within 10 minutes from the start of a fishing trip if a kid is stuck inside all day playing video games and fiddling about the digital world.  When my daughter gets old enough, I am going to do two things.  Set a short and sweet digital time and give her free range to roam about the outside and find her spot in the world she lives in.  I can guarantee that she will not have Digital Attention Hyperactive Disorder.  I am sure that my daughter will be more successful than the DD kids because of it.

A fun day with a great rainbow on the South Platte.

A fun day with a great rainbow on the South Platte.

So, if you are still reading.  The South Platte through Deckers is fishing better than last week for me.  With a quick jolt of higher water you can tell a few differences in the bottom if you look closely.  Must have patterns still remain to be tricos, pheasant tails, rainbow warriors and RS2’s.  In addition to that, bring some San Juan worms, tan would be the one that I throw.  If you stay in one spot for more than 45 minutes you will most likely see your catch rates go down.  Walk walk walk… enjoy enjoy enjoy!



The “Oh Shit Y”

“A harp can be a dangerous as a sword, in the right hands.” ~George R.R. Martin

One thing you NEVER want to do, no matter how much you want to, is grab a leader while fighting a fish.  Grabbing your (or your buddies) leader will inevitably break that fish off.  Human nature screams in your ear, “CRAP you are about to loose that fish.”  So you cannot help but to let luck take a rip and grab a leader.  Fail.

I submit to you another option… The “Oh Shit Y”

While this might not always be the best option, and frankly, the last option, it is an option none the less.  Here is a scenario and how-to on the “Oh Shit Y.”

So your mother finally convinces you to take her out for a stroll on the river.  Show her the ropes and drift some flies.  Sounds great, until, you realize that it is her first time and she does not really know how to get a trout’s head to turn and to control the movement of a fish.  No matter how short and concise your orders to turn the rod tip she does not follow.  The trophy does what it knows best and takes a run into the rock ledge to find cover.  Oh Shit.  Mom does not know how to turn the fish, and you have an epic trout tugging the line into a rock ledge. If you try to grab the line or leader and nudge it out you will be taking all spring out of the tip of the rod as well as loosing the drag on the reel.  Bad news!  

How to??  Take your hand and extend your thumb away from all the rest of your fingers creating a Y.  This Y cradles the line and allows the tip to move and the drag to run.  The fisherman can still reel in as the line comes to them.  What you are doing is keeping calm and guiding the fish away from the object that it wants to wrap itself around.  Think of your Y just as an extension of the rod tip controlling head movements.  This works best when you are positioned right around the leader and fly line connection.  It does not work all the time, but when the person holding the rod is consumed with adrenaline and cannot understand simple directions, the “Oh Shit Y” is a good answer instead of watching a trout lodge itself never to be seen again.

Today on Deckers the Y was used.  And I am sure glad I used it.  Doc, never fly fished in his life and hooked into an amazing fish.  A little bit of a bum knee prevented him from moving laterally up and down the river.  Doc put up a hell of a fight and won.  The “Y” kept the fish out of the rock ledge twice.

Bucket list trout

Doc caught a wonderful fish today!


Still reading??  Deckers is having great days and slow days corresponding with the amount of people on the river.  Inner tubers are getting in the way on a regular basis in the afternoon.  I really would try to stay away from Deckers on the weekends.  I will be!  Through the week if you can get off of work it is good.  Drown tricos in the late morning have been doing the trick.  Switching over to a pheasant tail and rs2 have been producing as well.  Watch out for warm water and watch your fish not to wear them down too much.


The Newbie..

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”  ~Albert Einstein

Every week, working as a guide, I get to see the “first trout smile.”  If you have never seen it, then you are really missing out.

Many people want to try it, a few are a bit afraid.  They hear terrible things about how hard fly fishing is.  They hear about these terrible wind knots the size of tennis balls.  They hear about casting being difficult.  My favorite part of it all as a guide is when a “newbie” apologetically tells me that they have never tried fly fishing before and it looked like it would be fun.  I hear things like “I am sorry you are going to have to untangle me all day,” and “I am sorry I don’t know all the words.”

I love it when someone has never ever touched a fishing rod before.  They have no idea on earth what is going on.  No preconceived idea about how in the hell they are going to get a fly that small into a trout’s mouth.  But, that is great.  Those “Newbies” are the ones that do the best and have the best time.

Today was a perfect example.  Ms. B was, by the end of the day was casting and mending like she had been doing it for years.  Myself and another guide were just watching her shaking our heads in amazement.  A girl completely out of her element, on vacation from out of state, went from Newbie status to raising hell with a fly rod in 6 hours.  It was perfect!

Ms. B had never cast a fly in her life.  It was all smiles.  She did great!

Ms. B had never cast a fly in her life. It was all smiles. She did great!  Photo Credit Doug Hensel



What is the point of all this mess of a blog?  Well, if you are worried about trying something like fly fishing and not being able to cast like Brad Pitt.  Just watch, listen and give it a good try.  Worry not, it is not as hard as you think.  If you think it will be painful, stressful or just boring… You have another thing coming!!

You should really kiss the first fish.

You should really kiss the first fish.

Never tried, had a blast!

Never tried, had a blast!

First Rainbow on the fly!!

First Rainbow on the fly!!

And, again, if you are still reading..  Deckers is running right around 100cfs right now.  The water is warming up in the early afternoon slowing down the fish a bit. Most fisherman are off by 1:30pm both because of too much stress on the fish and the tubers are out enjoying the warmer water.  No surprise, they are happily (and drunkenly) floating through your lines, unapologetically saying “Sorry.  Catching anything?”  Some great hatches going on right around 10am.  The kind that you can wet your hand and raise it in the air and they just stick there.  Moderately busy during the week, you can find plenty of fishable spots above Trumbull up to Flies and Lies.  After my trip tomorrow that is where I will be!!  Today’s du jour was a Rainbow Warrior #18 and a Flashback Pheasant Tail #20.  See you out on the water!!

All guided trips are with Rocky Mountain Fly Fishing Guides #2759.