Rebirth of a Stratocaster

Since fishing season is finished around here, I decided to
tackle a project I’ve been thinking about for a while. Quick
background- I was in a band in college and always wanted a
Fender Strat. Unfortunately, they were out of my price range
and I settled with some garden-variety overseas knock-off.
Somewhere along the way, I ended up buying a Mexican made
Fender “squire series” strat off a guy for $75 (he needed cash
quick for a habit). Despite being cheap, the thing played nice
and served me well picking songs in Vermont bars. I’ve held
onto this guitar and played it from time to time; always
admiring it’s tone and playability.

A few years ago I bought myself a proper strat; one that
got rave reviews and looked gorgeous with its maple fret
board and white finish. Unfortunately, no matter how much I
played it and tried to convince myself of its greatness, I
never bonded with it. Recently I admitted to myself what I
knew all these years. The old black strat, deep down was
really nice. It just needed a little attention. So I sold the
white strat and prepared to overhaul my old companion. Off
with the thick, ugly polyurethane finish, replaced with Surf
green Nitrocellulose lacquer (like the old originals).

I had no idea the process I was in for when I started
stripping the black poly off, but am glad I did it. Below are
photos that show the transformation. Sure, I could’ve done a
few things differently, but overall the thing turned out great
and my old strat is exactly how I always wanted it. It’s
lightweight, comfortable and rings like a bell (or growls when
the bridge pup is run through a cranked tube amp)!

Naked strat body

Stripped down to bare wood, scratches filled and

ready for paint

In my homemade painting booth after first coat of

sanded and polished

painting complete, cured for 30 days and


reassembled and back in action

at home

back with the family

Winding down

November means coming to terms with the fact that fishing
season is all but over. Sure, there are a few options that on the
right day, will still provide good fishing, but overall, days are
short, the water is cold and the fish are starting to hunker down
for the winter. Snow is starting to show up on the weekly
weather reports and it won’t be long until the ground is covered
and the temperature struggles to get above freezing. I plan on
doing a bit more fishing in the next week or so- mainly on bigger
waters, seeking out large brown trout. My friend Matt and I have
had some good luck lately with fall-run browns and hopefully we
can get a few more to bite before winter sets in. Below are a
few shots of fish from last week…

fall colors

battling the elements

Fall Browns

With the guiding season coming to an end, I’ve been
spending some time of my own on the water lately. There are
lots of options this time of year; fish tiny flies to picky trout on
small streams, float big water and tempt fish in riffles, swing
streamers for aggressive browns…. I settled on heading out of
town and doing some down and dirty nymphing. It’s fun to see
what a dead-drifted nymph can do…


the reward

Flat Creek- it’s great!

If you haven’t made it out to fish Flat creek this year, you
better get to it. Right now it’s offering up some of the best (and
challenging) fishing of the year. Anglers are minimal and fish are
hungry. Expect to see good blue wing olive hatches every
afternoon as well as the occasional mahogany dun. I’ve caught
several nice (best cutthroat of the season) fish the past few days.
It’s great to stalk and cast to 20+ inch fish! Below is a photo of
one of the big cutthroat that reside in flat creek.

flat creek cut


Things around here in Jackson have slowed dramatically
over the past week. It’s as though someone threw a switch.
Streets are quieter, rivers less crowded and trees have gone
from green to mustard yellow. With only a handful of guided
trips on the calendar this month, I am now focusing attention
on my own fishing. Gone are the sandals and hoppers, replaced
with waders, tiny mayflies and streamers.

Watching the snow fall outside this morning, it’s only
fitting to talk about transitions. October brings change to the
Northern Rockies. While snows and shrinking daylight warn of
the encroaching winter, they also mark some of the best
fishing around, ushering in thick blue wing olive hatches and
large fall- run brown trout. No fisherman around here would
think of going out this time of year without a handful of tiny
olive mayfly and emerger patterns (packed snugly inside his
gor-tex jacket of course). At the same time, there are some
truly large brown trout who need attention too. Fortunately, in
addition to the tiny dries, there’s another large box of flies,
designed to be swung, in hopes of enticing one of these trophy
whose colors coincidently match the cottonwoods and aspens
that line the riverbanks.

October fishing around Jackson…better get out before
winter’s here.


Mayflies and cloudy days

In the fall around Jackson, cloudy days on the Snake mean
big (size 10 and 12) Hecuba mayflies and hungry trout….


Matching the hatch



Snake’s fishing well!

My apologies for the lack of entries lately on the blog
front. Things here in Jackson have been busy and fish have
been biting- A man’s gotta have priorities (and a blog looses
out when the fishing’s good!)  I’ve been spending time finding
fish for folks and tying flies to fool them. Folks in my boat
have been catching a variety of size cutthroat trout on dry
flies and have had fun doing so. Right now, my go-to fly is a
PMD- these guys are coming off the water around noon and
really get the fish moving in the riffles. As we transition into
fall (i.e. get some colder temperatures and gray days) I’d
expect to see some snake drakes, mahogany duns and blue-
winged olives to make appearances.

This is my favorite time to fish around here. Hope
everyone’s able to get out and make the most of things.
Below are some fine cutthroat trout that were recently caught
on the Snake. Nice work Matt!

Matt with trout

trout in net


I’ve been spending A LOT of time on the Green River lately
and it’s certainly living up to its reputation. We’ve been catching
browns, rainbows and whitefish of all sizes on dries and nymphs.
Below are a couple of nice rainbows that Orlando and Adam
picked up a few days ago while fishing with me. Not bad for two
guys accustom to fishing the salt!


Orlando's bow

Matching Browns

I spent the past two days with Bill and his son Will. Friday was their first time fishing the Green. The guys landed these matching browns out of the same hole. Nice work guys!

Bill's brown

Will's brown

What a fish!

I’m happy to report that the Green River is really starting
to fish well. I’ve been down there twice the past few days and
have had a great time. The water is coming down and clearing
fast and bugs are coming off in droves. I plan on spending a
lot of time on it with clients in the next few weeks.

My friend Brandon from Colorado was introduced to the
upper Green yesterday and it didn’t disappoint. He fished a
combination of dries and nymphs, picking up several fish on
both. However the fish of the day (and possibly year) came on
a dry fly fished on 5x tippet. We found this guy feeding in a
back eddy and had to chase him down river for quite a while
before finally landing him.

Quite a fish that we’ll both always remember.


Rainbow 2

Rainbow 3