Salmon & Steelhead Fishing photo

As a photographer who takes many, many photos of fish and fishing for a living I tend to get a touch bored with the actual fish and even fishing part. It sounds silly I know, but if it was your job you might agree with me. Hear me out…

As Kirk Deeter once said to me 11 years ago: “Understanding that it isn’t about the fish – it’s about the miles you travel and people you meet in order to find them.”

In the decade since he wrote this to me I’ve traveled more miles and met more people than I ever could have imagined. I have taken this quote to heart many times over on my travels around the world simply “taking photos of fish.”

Some of you might object to this selection of my 8 favorite fishing photos as there’s more birds in the photos than fish, but that’s the beauty of such a subjective art. These are what I feel are my most finely crafted, fondest memories on the road and what I consider to be some of my best images that tell the story of some fishing adventure.


This photo was taken almost 8 years ago for a story in Angling Trade Magazine about fishing TV. I went to the salvation army, found an old TV, ripped it apart, begged my wife to put on waders and a red jacket and headed on down to the water about a mile from our house. I brought my coffee table, a couple of strobes, and started shooting. About ten minutes into the shoot my friend (and fly tier genius) Jay Zimmerman came walking along the bank with a large boat net. The clouds parted, sun filtered through the late day clouds for about 30 seconds and boom … it all came together. I shot about 100 frames and this was the only one that really worked.


This image was taken close to one of my favorite places on earth, the marsh outside New Orleans, LA. The image seemed foreboding to me when I took it and upon further reflection, it still is. Stylistically and graphically it couldn’t get any better… At least in my opinion. A pelican on almost every post – backlit overcast sky. It’s clean, graphic and very mathematical. Not to mention one pelican is just taking flight.

Later that day I would think many times over that I was going to die. I was with a gentleman who didn’t know the area. We were lost, and caught in a terrible storm that was slinging lightening all over the marsh. We had miles to get back to our put-in. We would later learn that our friends (Deeter included) were about to call the Coast Guard and that a tornado had tracked a couple miles north of us.


This photo is of my good friend Will Rice. We had flown to Portland, rented a car, and driven halfway across the state to ride the “steelhead train.” This train, which I do not believe runs any more, would take a handful of anglers up and down the length of the Wallowa River almost to the Grande Ronde for a few days searching for steelhead. You’d hop on the train in the morning, coolers in tow and let the conductor know where you’d like to get off to fish. The train would make a few passes up and down the length of the tracks during the day. If you wanted to move, grab a beer, or just take a ride, all you had to do was wave the conductor down and he would let you back on.


This rock tricked me. I was wading the gin clear waters of Lake Michigan on Beaver Island for carp with the crew at Indigo Guide Service when I thought I saw a pod of carp eating near the surface. I waded about one hundred yards through chest deep water to find this. The only rock I had seen all day with a flat surface about two inches under the water. I carefully took the camera out of my backpack, which was sitting on the water, held it way above my head and pressed the shutter. I got extremely lucky…


Also taken in the marsh outside of New Orleans, this image was made at the end of long, long day chasing redfish. It was cloudy, raining and pretty much miserable. All the other boats had either not gone out or simply turned back as the conditions grew worse. Our boat stayed out though and we were rewarded right as the sun was going down. The clouds parted and we stuck a few hefty fish right at the end of the day.


This shot was made at Kau Tapen lodge on the Rio Grande River in Argentina and is quite simply one of my favorite portraits I’ve ever shot. The light was magical. It was a slightly overcast day which let me utilize my small strobes perfectly. The woman in the image is Lilla Rowcliffe. She’s 88 years old and travels by herself every year to fish the lodge for a couple weeks. The photo she is holding is of herself many years ago with a 40-pound Atlantic salmon she had caught on the fly. You can read more about this remarkable lady in a small piece that Kirk wrote about her “matching the hatch” in India for Carp with Monkey poo. No, I’m not making this up…


This is the first and only silver salmon I have ever caught. The day we caught it we were no more than a mile or two from the Bering Sea on an unnamed river in Alaska. It did what silvers are supposed to do. It jumped and spun and took me for a ride. We then bonked it on the head and the guide made a beautiful filet cut on it. I stopped him while I made a photo and ever since then I’ve always thought it looked like one of those anatomy diagrams that used to appear in middle school science books. Oh, and it was delicious if you were wondering.


This image was featured in Field and Stream in the February 2013 issue as a “great story.” The short version goes like this… Guide Tyler Savage tells me to get my camera and strobes set up. He claims to have a “pet” bird called Scrappy that he can call with a whistle and feed by hand. Now this doesn’t sound all that crazy until you realize where we are and what the bird is. We were in the middle of nowhere on the Bering Sea and the bird was a long-tailed jaeger that literally migrates thousands of miles below the equator and returns every summer to its breeding grounds way up north. The crazy part? Tyler claims to have been doing this for a number of years now. Right on cue, Scrappy came bombing in time and time again to eat salmon roe, innards, and scraps of flesh from Tyler’s hand. It was simply amazing and one of my favorite memories from Alaska.