Several years ago, I was driving through Colorado
on business and decided to lay over a day and
squeeze in some trout fishing on the Arkansas
River near Buena Vista. I stopped at a local
truck stop and purchased a non-resident license.
I had brought a pack rod and a small box of flies
with me on the trip and brought along my faithful
companion and personal "shadow," Jules, a black
male Labrador Retriever. So Jules and I parked
the truck and headed down a trail to some fishing
water a few locals at the truck stop had pointed out.
The day was beautiful and the water was running
well and crystal clear. I could see the occasional
trout drifting by in the current. I didn't walk the
bank too far before deciding to make my first cast
with a rainbow egg pattern fly under a strike indicator.
As the morning progressed, I became aware of Jules a
few times when he would bark each time kayakers would
drift downstream to our location or someone walked up
behind us on the access trail (also kayakers, of course).
I was the only angler on this stretch of water, which
was only a few hundred yards or so. It was basically
one slow pool in an otherwise grand high-mountain river.
I was having a great time of it and catching a few fish
here and there. My intent was to keep one good fish
(which was legal in this section of the river) to prepare
for dinner. So my fishing day would end when I settled
on a fish that suited me. Shortly after noon, I landed
the fish I wanted to keep and put him on a stringer...a
nice Rainbow very suitable for table fare. I heard Jules
splashing around downstream of my location behind some
large streamside boulders that were blocking my view of
him. So I secured my gear, picked up my one-fish limit,
and headed downstream to fetch the retriever.
When I rounded the rocks I was stunned and perplexed by
what I saw. There was Jules, my faithful canine fishing
companion, sitting on a boulder about three feet out into
the stream with two more Rainbow trout between his front
paws. I was immediately beset by an ethical conundrum.
I hate wasting game, but the legal limit was one fish.
Jules had never demonstrated his fishing prowess in my
presence before, and I was completely taken aback. What
Well, Jules was my dog. Therefore, Jules' fish were my
fish. So I waded out and added these two fish to my
stringer, knowing that if a warden checked me he would
never believe that the dog had caught them. They were
in pristine condition! And who has ever heard of a dog
catching fish in a freestone river in Colorado? I was
prepared to accept responsibility for my pet's actions
and pay any fines that were coming my way as we returned
to the truck.
Thankfully, Jules and I never met a game warden that day.
And we had a very ample dinner that evening over our
campfire. I'm sure that was the first and only time
Jules dined on fresh trout mixed into his dog food.
He seemed to enjoy his catch as much as I enjoyed mine.
But I had learned a very important lesson that day; a
lesson which harkened back to an old Southern saying
I heard many times as a boy but never heeded: "Never
take a hunting dog fishing." ~ Ken
Ken graduated from Southern Methodist University
in 1988, and spent the next several years serving
in the United States Navy as an intelligence analyst
and Russian Language translator. He is a veteran
of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Leaving the
nation's service in 1993.
Ken is also a published outdoor writer and historian,
having penned articles and stories that have appeared
in several national hunting publications like North
American Hunter magazine, on GunMuse.com, in regional
and local newspapers, and historical and literary
journals. He also provides hunting and dog training
seminars for Bass Pro Shops and other sporting goods
retailers nationwide and works with other outdoors
businesses and conservation organizations in the
fields of public relations, promotional marketing,
fund-raising, and advertising. He also is a partner
in Silver Mallard Properties, LLC. He currently
resides with his wife, Wilma, their Weimaraner,
Smoky Joe, and their Labrador Retriever, Jake, in
Branson, Missouri, where he founded the
Branson/Tri-Lakes Chapter of Ducks Unlimited in 1998.