Kindness on the River


Active Member
WFF Supporter
I'll start this out with a little background....I'm toward the end of a career in law enforcement. Over the years, I've gotten strong reminders of the good people out there, but mostly my day to day is seeing the bad things people do or have happen to them. I mean no one calls us up to say they're having a swell birthday party so c'mon over, right?;)

My time fishing is an opportunity to get away from all those dark things and recharge my batteries. I like to think I'm a nice guy but I'm not much of a people person. A perfect day for me is having the river to myself...regardless if I catch fish. I'll be cordial if I meet someone while out, but mostly I keep to myself and move on.

So yesterday I was up on the North Fork of the Nooksack trying for a seemingly non existent steelhead. I had this stretch to myself and was working through a decent (for the Nooksack) run when I noticed a guy had come in down stream of me. He was about 100 yards down so it was no big deal....but he was at the end of that stretch and could go no further. He started walking up stream and my blood pressure started to rise, thinking this A-hole was gonna low hole me....but he didn't. He cut inland and started heading upstream. I waved when he passed and went back to fishing.

He stopped at the top of the run, and I was fine with that, there was plenty space between us so we could both enjoy ourselves. I'd glance upstream occasionally and began to realize he wasn't fishing. So then I started to wonder if he was rooting through my backpack that I'd left at a log jam in that area. After a while, I realized he wasn't, finished out the run, and went up to grab my pack.

He evidently saw me moving, got up and started walking toward me. I expected to exchange a few pleasantries and be on my way. He turned out to be one of the nicest strangers I've met while out fishing! Probably in the top ten overall and easily in the top two for this season.

A young guy in his early 20's. He had taken a seat to wait me out, not wanting to put any pressure on me as I finished the run. Holy cow! I believe I have a good fishing ethic but damn, what he'd done wouldn't even have entered my head. I know I'm a selfish bastard because I have a huge 'personal space' on the river but in my mind there was plenty of distance between us to step in and start doing the one-step down river. I'd never experienced that before and I was entirely impressed. (and later it got me thinking, who was the A-hole?;))

Anyhow, I thought I'd share because this experience will stick with me longer than the two bull trout I netted yesterday...and the second fish was big and strong enough to make me think it might have been steel upon first tug.

If you're out there, thank you. I'll remember it for a long time. For the rest of you, I hope you're the recipient of something equally as kind or better yet, be the giver...I hope to in the future.

Mike d
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Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
I have only run across a few asshole when I skinny water fished. I let a fellow fly fisher go down below me on the N/F Stilly one time. He camped there. I thought he would go down river but no, he stayed there. The hole below Fortson is where I was at. He was fishing of that big flat rock there(if that rock is still there).

If I meet up with somebody new on most skinny water. I'll swap flies with them or just give them what works for me. But I'm like you. I like to fish alone.


Active Member
N. fork falls are an anadromous barrier. No salmon or steelhead in the NF Nook above the falls, unless someone has been trap hauling them up there for some insane reason. Resident trout and char only.

Glad you met that nice fellow. Most fly anglers are nice fellows in my experience, especially the adventurous types. I hypothesize it's because us adventuring blue liners have a hell of a lot more territory to share than traditional salmon and steelheaders who keep fighting over shoulder space on the same 5-10 mile stretches of the same 6 rivers every season for the last 80 seasons. For instance, the guys who snag kings on the Samish. Lunatics.

Edit: used to snag kings on the Samish. Reg changes and all.

2nd edit: Also, steelhead in all the Nooksack forks (even below falls and diversion dams) seem super non-abundant. There was a joke that Nooksack steelhead are named Uday and Qusay because there's only two and they're tough to find.
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"My time fishing is an opportunity to get away from all those dark things and recharge my batteries. I like to think I'm a nice guy but I'm not much of a people person. A perfect day for me is having the river to myself...regardless if I catch fish. I'll be cordial if I meet someone while out, but mostly I keep to myself and move on."



Active Member
I think the fellow you ran in to had something that the philosophers have spoken much on and everybody thinks they have. That's a high awareness of empathy when interacting with others and a commendable degree of personal ethics. Seeing or hearing of people like this should encourage us all to be better people, not just when we go fishing but in everything we do.


Active Member
WFF Supporter
If I meet up with somebody new on most skinny water. I'll swap flies with them or just give them what works for me.
I've read others have done this, too, but have never considered it in the past. That said, I actually tied up a couple extra of my recent favorites to 'share' if I'm ever in a similar situation.


Active Member
I think you ran into common courtesy that isn't common anymore. Not flying a flag but I often take that tact. There's really no need to fish a run others are in. Especially a fellow fly swinger. Let them finish, make contact and fish through after they are done. Often flies are exchanged, the run is fished again together and someone hooks up with the other guys fly and lifelong friendships form. It's not a tough equation. I would never attempt to step on another's mojo or spot. A wide berth is a must even in crowded times. Often this can mean little fishing and some conversing.

Greg Price

Love da little fishies
I a m always humbled and impressed with salt fly people I meet on the super well known/crowded beachs in South Puget sound.


Active Member
Nice story MD. Reminds me of a time in Canada last year where I ran into a local guy in the parking area of a river we were both going to fish. He was as friendly as could be and gave me tons of information on local waters where I would find "the biggest bullies (bull trout) you ever did see" (Canadian accent). He also gave me a big handful of flies to use. My girlfriend and I still jokingly reference him as the nicest guy we ever met...or, rather, the nicest guy we ever did meet.

Ron McNeal

I know not the heart of another man.
I'm pretty limited to having to fly fish with other fly fishers and I find that if I'm friendly I get friendly back.
My rant is this. Pack your f--king trash back out with ya, damn it.
Nothing messes with my serenity more than finding litter on our water ways.
My hot button is dog shit. While fishing, I've yet to see a someone "clean up" after their dog.

Ian Horning

Powerbait Entomologist
The amount of times I've wanted to cuss out people on the rivers this year has been mind boggling. A couple recent examples:

I was swinging through a run when this guy comes up (he parked in an illegal place too!) and drops his gear 20 feet downstream from where I'm standing. He starts casting his float way upstream, where I'm standing making my casts. I just stared at him with a "really?" look on my face. I move down through the run, making him move upstream. Then, he casts and lets his float drift past me before reeling it in right past my feet.

Even on lakes I've ran into some rather silly behavior. Last Monday I was working a section of bank. I was moving and casting, so not static or anything... when I notice a guy creeping up on me in his pontoon. He's moving the same direction I am, but slightly faster. Pretty soon he's parallel to me, and I struggle to cast without hitting him. Then, he cuts right in front of me, and starts casting to the same bank that I'm working! To me that's just as bad as low-holing.

I'm glad there are at least some people out there that understand common river courtesy.

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