When I was young, our family had a condo in a nearby ski town that was affectionately known as the ‘hatchery’ due to the copious amounts of trout art and decorations adorning the walls and tables. I recall attempting to count them at one point, but I couldn’t keep up, especially since I knew of hidden pieces I drew on the studs and tops of counters before the finishing touches were made. Did they still count even though not visible? And how about all the trout on the border of a blanket, do they count as one since they are all the same?
When two anglers get married, the number of trout themed pieces grows seemingly exponentially. Trout salt and pepper shakers, trout candle holders, trout-shaped boxes to hold coins, trout cards, trout puzzles; you name it and we got it as gifts. Now 15 years on in our marriage, we’ve purged much of what was cheesy (yes, there’s much too much cheesy trout paraphernalia out there) and kept the good/functional pieces, but we’ve also added to our collection with carefully selected pieces from friends and well-respected artists in the space.
Over the years in the fly fishing industry, I had the pleasure of meeting many of the artists we now have hanging on our walls, but the best method for meeting artists came on the river, of course. We used to live near the banks of the Roaring Fork River, so we often walked our dog there after work and frequented upon anglers fishing a hole known to hold some big trout. On one evening outing, we were both taken aback by an angler who clearly knew what he was doing. We sat on a nearby bench admiring his adept cast and eventually started up a conversation. He was traveling from Michigan checking out rivers along his art tour to local fly shops. At the trailhead, we stopped at his trailer to check out his work, and then invited him over for a beer. Derek DeYoung ended up crashing at our house for a few days and we are still good friends. His custom piece for us is numero uno on the list to grab if a wildfire breaks out near our house.
We also have a photo from a friend my husband went to grad school with who was also a proficient angler. While his photos aren’t known for being on fly boxes, in fly shops or anywhere else, his Rainbow on the Roaring Fork is a very special piece in our house. Same goes with my favorite trout photo taken by the briliant eye of good friend Copi Vojta of The Fly Fish Journal fame. We also have art from up-and-comers like Casey Underwood that I cherish. His take on any number of species and the detail is impressive. I’m also a fan of the artists license he takes in his prints to create unique versions of the fish we know and love. The number of artists in the space right now is impressive from Ed Anderson to Paul Puckett and Andrea Larko and the impressive AD Maddox. I love them all and would appreciate a few more open walls in my house to hold their work.
When friends come into our house, there is no denying that they immediately know what we do with our spare time, and I’d have it no other way. I cherish the art we have and look forward to updating it as our tastes change, but mostly I’m glad for the trout head and tail salt and pepper shakers.