A Fly Fisherman’s Best Friend

Seven years ago, I was browsing Kijiji (Canadian Craigslist) and came across a German Shepherd/Collie puppy wearing an orange and black vest, with the biggest puppy dog eyes I’d ever seen. Staring back at me through the screen was this big brown dummy, with ears too big for his head, dressed like Marty Mcfly from Back to the Future. In that moment I ordered myself a Pepsi Free and fell harder than Doc Brown did from the clock tower.

I arrived at this dingy old farm, with shingles falling off the roof and a window that was boarded up with a tarp. After I made sure the DeLorean wasn’t hidden in the barn, I began shrewd negotiations with a woman whose style was on par with the Doc, having long white hair and wearing a stylish burn hole filled and stained Winnie the Pooh nightie. With a cigarette hanging from her mouth and in a raspy voice she said, “Don’t worry honey, he’s full, he just had some toast.” What can I say, I was sold. On the drive back, he fell curled up on my friends lap and slept like he knew he was going home.

From that moment on, Hudson, as he became known as, was my best friend and fly fishing companion. There is something special about having a dog by your side when you’re fly fishing. Beyond the obvious ability to turn into bear chow, a dog becomes the one you confide in when you break off that giant fish before you got it to net, or the one you sing songs with when you’re walking down those long and lonely trails on the way to your favorite fishing holes. For me, Hudson allowed me to truly begin fishing without a partner. I no longer yearned for someone to come fish with me, for I always had my furry little buddy to join me in my pursuit of happiness.

Though I don’t strap a GoPro to his back or take many pictures when it’s just him and I, we have been through some incredible times together and created wonderful memories. There was the time a bear entered our campsite and began knocking over BBQ’s, smashing locked coolers, and ripping open the beer empties bag in the search for food scraps. Hudson, the ever-alert guard dog snored away this experience, lost in dog dreams where he was a true bear chasing hero. Another time I watched in awe as Hudson decided to jump off a waterfall instead of just walking slightly upstream and crossing. Still further, there was the time when he was puppy and I was walking across a stream above a raging waterfall. He decided that he would rather go shooting over the waterfall edge than be in my arms any longer. In a panic caused by fear and excitement, he kicked and scratched at me to let him go. Instead of dropping him I held on tight and under I went, smashing my legs into the rocks below. Soaking, we emerged from the water and I tossed him to shore. With my Simms waders showing off their new rip in the first layer of Gortex (they didn’t leak) and my body chilled to the core, I made my way back to the truck grumbling under my breath about that “stupid dog.”

A final story I want to share is an experience I vividly remember, deep in the backcountry with a couple of friends. We had just had a long day of fishing and were sitting around the fire having a few beers. It soon got dark and Hudson was sound asleep at my feet. Suddenly, he awoke to a noise that was undetectable to the human ear. He stood at attention glaring off into the darkness. He began to growl unrelentingly and barking like a murderer was about to spring from the shadows. It was utterly black that night and I could not see into the thick darkness that circled us. Our hearts racing, we began yelling out into the distance to scare whatever creature was lurking in the night. Soon he calmed, and we began to relax. The next morning, we awoke to find fresh bear scat where Hudson was barking towards. Who knows how that night could have ended had he not been there.

However useful Hudson has been as a bear deterrent, he is still just a ridiculous and goofy dog. Off the top of my head here is a list of few shenanigans my dog has gotten into while fly fishing:

  • Almost drowned (several times)
  • Got swept away (happens yearly)
  • Almost made me drown (yearly)
  • Got ringworm
  • Got an ulcer in his eye (my god that was expensive)
  • Caught a fish himself
  • Had farts from said fish
  • Swam across the Bow River in winter
  • Got lost on his first camping trip
  • Fought a horse
  • Got chased by a cow
  • Caught a mouse
  • Ate a bird

Those are just a few of the many memories I’ve made with my dog over the years. Although he’s a pool wrecking, fish scaring, stinky breathed creature, I wouldn’t trade him for the world. He’s slowed down recently, and there will be a time when he can’t join me on a lot of the trips I do. However, I am content that when he goes to sleep at night he dreams about being a young dog walking beside me, a rod in my hand and a stick in his mouth. So, if you’re having trouble finding yourself fishing partners, do yourself a favor and get a dog. Sure, there will be tons of hair to sweep up, messes to clean, and few piles of vomit to scrub out of the carpet every year, but I promise you, you will not regret the day you find your very own Hudson the fishing dog to make memories with.

Though I’ll be sad the day Hudson leaves this earth, he’s the best fishing dog any man could ask for. I know he will be in doggy heaven chewing on white fish and having dog farts, waiting for me to say “good boy” again.

Tight Lines and give me a follow @Troutmadness