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Reeling In A Water Hound: Fishing With Midge


Midge sits by the river in Float Coat.

Some might say I am a fishing addict? I am lucky to live in a town that has endless recreation possibilities and lots of water. My husband and I are pretty predictable, so when April rolls around we are feet-first in the river and don’t come out until the snow falls and ice hangs off of our fishing guides.  What makes our experience on the river so memorable is experiencing it through the eyes and noses of our canines.

Our first canine Sierra developed a love for fishing late in life, making it easy to boat and camp with her.  She walked between us, waiting to see who would catch the first fish.  We still fondly see reminders of her on the river, whether it be the rock cairns she created by diving for rocks when we fished, or that secret spot that we call “Sierra’s Hole.”

After some exhaustive research, many pulls on our heartstrings, and a two year search, we found our next dog. Midge, an Irish Water Spaniel, came into our life last year.  She seemed to fit our lifestyle and was a water dog to boot!  Our first task after basic training was preparing her for a life of fishing, boating, and camping.

During her first trip at 12 weeks old, we were hopeful that she would have a passion for the river and the outdoors as we do.  Nothing prepared us for the extreme joy that she exhibited for water and the river!  She was a virtual motorboat in the water, and early on lived up to her name and breed. Even when not on the river, Midge can be found in a mud puddle trying to figure out how to swim in it!

Midge in Float Coat.

The things we learned were not profound; as is the case for most canine/human adventures start small, and be very patient. The first trip we took was a one-day float trip. We used the Flat Out Leash to attach Midge to the boat. For us, it has proven to be the most helpful product: allowing us to get Midge to the boat, keeping her close while loading the boat, keeping her in the boat, and even keeping her next to us on the river while we fish.

Midge in Float coat takes a break in the shade.

Our next trip, we were more adventurous, and decided to take her on a four-day float to the Mouth of the Deschutes River.  We packed everything remotely connected to our dog! We took the Cloud Chaser in case it was cold, Swamp Cooler in case she was hot, Float Coat for the rapids, portable dog kennel, Flat Out Leash, tie out, peanut butter, sterilized bones, food, and treats.

When fishing, we traded off watching the dog and eventually we both fished while she sat amidst the Alder trees on the bank.  To maintain consistency with our home routine, we put her in her crate for periodic naps and full nights of sleep.  We walked daily and played a lot, spending a lot of time working on her swimming and retrieving.

Our river trips continued until the end of year when the last of the steelhead were in our native river.  We spent all our river days and nights with Midge, never leaving her behind.  Was it sometimes a challenge? Yes, but our hard work and patience paid off, and our little Midge has become an unbelievable river partner and a cherished member of our fly-fishing family.

Dove and dog midge in float coat sit on the bow of a boat on the river.

Basic training is a must; "stay" and "here" are essential training commands to safely enjoy the river. Be prepared, and expect the unexpected.

These are the items that we have found to be the most useful:

  1. Favorite toys (water and land toys)
  2. Peanut butter or other toy stuffing ingredients
  3. Adjustable leash
  4. Canine lifejacket (Float Coat)
  5. Towels
  6. Lots of treats
  7. Dog boots (if in a raft)
  8. Portable dog crate
  9. Cloud Chaser™ jacket for the cool nights on the river
  10. Portable dog bed (like the Mt. Bachelor Pad or Highlands Sleeping Bag)

Get outside and enjoy! It is a better experience when you get to spend it with your canine. Don’t be afraid to take a puppy, just be prepared for the different possibilities and mishaps. This year, the goal is to be off leash while we fish. Lots of fun mishaps ahead I am sure, like fly line tangled in her curly hair!