Guest Blogger: Joe Dellaria, Woodbury MN

Ok I admit it, I have a tendency to be that Type A guy focused on conquering the next mountain-sized challenge. About fifteen years ago, I was starting to figure out where the biggest fish in the river lived. In the last few week I had cited several of these monsters and even hooked a couple. However, I had yet to conquer landing a big one. It was early in the morning towards the end of the trout season and I had walked over a mile in the dark to arrive at “The Pool” where I had hooked and lost a very nice fish the past week.

I had unhooked my fly and started to false cast when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. Then I heard a plop. I turned my head and saw to my horror another fisherman sitting on shore. He was sitting down after casting his bait into the middle of “The Hole.” Realizing I was interrupting his fishing, I stopped false casting and reeled in my line. Good thing he couldn’t read my mind – I’m not going to tell you either. But, you can probably guess what I was thinking.

He greeted me with a hearty, “Hello, how are you doing?”

I elected, again, not to tell him how I was really doing, and replied with a civil, “Fine, fine. How about you?”

I couldn’t resist asking him how he got there. I was the only car at the parking spot and fully expected to have “The Hole” to myself.

He replied all too cheerily, “Oh, the farmer is a friend of mine. He let’s me walk in from his house.”

That explained not seeing another car at the parking spot. I proceeded to ask how long he had been there and what kind of luck he was having. After answering all my questions he replied, “Where did you walk in from?”

I told him from the parking spot about a mile downstream of “The Hole.” Then came the dagger. He replied, “Oh yeah, it’s a beautiful walk from there isn’t it?” The sincerity dripping off his statement turned to steam as it dripped onto my embarrassed and hot face.

I replied affirmatively, wished him well and walked back to the next hole. As I walked, the reality of his statement began to fully settle in my mind. By the time I reached the spot where I began fishing I decided to get at least one picture of something interesting in or around the river every time I fished. That helps me to slow down and “enjoy the beautiful walk” as much as conquering the big fish I so desired to catch.

This was taken early in March. A new tree had fallen into the river. The front of the ice formation is on the upstream side. Apparently, the water wicked up the branches and froze on the branches forming this spectacular and unusual ice formation. This is the black and white version of the picture.
This series of pictures were taken last year in March. When I started fishing there was no snow on the ground. After an hour, there was at least an inch of snow everywhere. It’s amazing how quiet it is when it snows. I love the contrast between the dark water, and the snow and ice.
There was virtually no wind and the snow was dry. This pod of dried thistles caught the huge snowflakes as they wafted down.
The coup de grace was a gorgeous 18” brown that came from a run just downstream of the first picture. If you look carefully, you can see the bead head wooly bugger (just above the fish in the net) that got the bead head nymph deep enough to entice this one (the nymph is on the snow just below the tail).

The following are some of my “greatest hits” pictures taken over the past several years. The added benefit of these pictures is that I can scroll through them at my computer any time to relive the moment. So this fellow gave me a never ending gift, for which I say a sincere and hearty, “Thank you!” I briefly explain each picture below. Hope you enjoy these as much as I have. By the way, I am not a photographer. All of these were taken with an Olympus X560WP (WP designates waterproof); a modest camera. I picked a couple pictures from each season and started with winter. If you like these, let me know – I have plenty more.

The corpse of this snapping turtle washed up on the leading edge of an island in the river in early May. The shell was about 15” in length.

A few weeks later, this little guy was heading the wrong way down a gravel wash. I picked him up and set him down next to the edge of the river off he went – pretty cool!

These wild flowers were in a little shaft of sunlight in a shaded turn in the river. This gave a terrific contrast between the flowers and the back-ground.

I was headed to “The Hole” early in the morning and came across this spider. It is about ¾” in length. I looked it up on the internet. It’s name is “yellow and black spider” (I could have thought of that one). It is a “common spider” that I have never seen before or after this picture in over 30 years of fishing on this river. Apparently, “common” is a relative term.

A wild seed pod that split open. There was a gentle breeze blowing the seeds off this in a steady stream. I followed the stream of floating seeds back to the source.

An 18” brown reviving in the river in front of me. It’s weird, it took me several years to remember this was a waterproof camera. I took about 18 pictures – this was the best one. I have an aversion to putting my face into the river to see the viewfinder.


  1. Nice shots Joe. I especially like the tiny snapper, some of the ice and vegetation shots, the spider and the trout. I too try to take a shot or two every outing, although I think I always end up taking the same things–upstream angle, downstream, a nice riffle, a crawdad if I find one, and the stony stream bed. The great stuff, like two river otters frolicking in the pool below a falls this past week, are always gone before I can get camera to eyeball.

    Where I grew up in Ohio we saw those big spiders frequently; we called them “grass spiders,” as I recall, probably because the one thing they could never be said to resemble is grass. : )

    – Mike

  2. Hi Mike,
    Glad to hear you are doing the same! I was off on family vacation last week when this posted. If you are passing through St. Paul, MN let me know. I would love to see your pictures.
    All the best, Joe

    1. I was up in Northern California trout country when your article posted, Joe. Annual camping trip with the family. I always try to get out a couple of mornings before the campground is stirring. We also try to hike the waterfall section of the McCloud, and I’ve vowed to fish it next time if I can. I thought I’d love one of the other wild rivers up there best, but I think the McCloud is tops on the list. (The McCloud populated the world with her spirited and hardy rainbows, you know.)

      I’ll try to do a write-up on some of those waters soon.

      Remember you still owe us a “praying to the fishing gods” story. I made good on my promise, and so yer up! : )

      – Mike

  3. Hi Mike,

    Refresh my memory on the “praying to the fishing gods” story IOU. It is escaping me at the moment. Happy to write a story – just help me with what I am addressing.
    Looking forward to your write-ups.
    All the best, Joe

    1. Sorry Joe, you’re right…it’s Phil who owes us that story. (My memory these days is no better than one of those hatchery stockers that gets hooked by a foam department store fly, flips off by a stroke of luck, and three minutes later hits the same fly again.)

      – Mike

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