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Trout Bums at Large is a monthly column appearing in the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Seattle Times. The column is written by Randal Sumner and Mark Littleton. We will be keeping an archive of these articles on this page.

Chief Holland USN retired
by R. Sumner

All the troutbums I know have fairly     normal lives; most even have jobs or at least someplace to go every morning. They have houses that need painting and yard duty and all the other stuff that passes for responsibility; retirement planning, college funding, car payments, you know REAL LIFE.

 This July Liz and I took our annual trip to the St.Joe River in Idaho for a week and met a guy that has pretty much cut the tether to our reality. I give you to the great Dutch Holland USN Retired.

            Dutch was camped next to us with his dog Faith. The first evening we had a terrific thunderstorm with all the trimmings, lightning, thunder and a hard rain. I had returned from fishing early but had not escaped the deluge. Dutch waved me over from under the awning on his trailer, produced a coffee cup of Mr. Johnny Walker and we made our introductions as the storm boomed through the canyon.

 Dutch had been on the road for fifteen summers camping and fishing, moving his home every two weeks as the forest service rules allow.

 He’d had five wives, he said;” and had bought more washers and dryers than Sears.”  He said that he was still mostly friends with his ex’s except the last one that wanted his canoe so he chain sawed it in half and left her half on the yard of his last real house in Las Vegas. Getting the picture?

He told me that once after some miss understanding he was required to take a test to find out if he had a drinking problem. “I got nine out of ten”, but with questions like: Do you ever drink in the morning. “On liberty”. Have you ever gotten drunk two days in a row? “On liberty”. Finally he told the Lt. Commander,” This test is obviously not for sailors.” He did say he could cut his drinking in half anytime by leaving the water out. You don’t find yourself in the presence of this kind of genius often.

 No, mostly folks have rules about every detail of their lives. Moderation is the thing, yet here on the banks of the St.Joe I meet a 70-year-old wild man burning the candle at both ends.

We loaded up our gear and headed out the next morning for a few hours of fishing on one of Dutch’s favorite runs, a beauty of a spot with a deep green trough full of cutthroat. He had a bit of a problem getting to the water with his bad knees, I assume the knee problem came from begging for forgiveness, but I could be wrong.

 This is always the moment of truth: can the guy really fish or just talk fishing. It wasn’t long before the Dutchman had a half a dozen little beauties to hand and graciously gave me his spot while he sat and enjoyed a smoke. We swapped off like that for a couple hours going through each other’s fly boxes and pretty much whooping it up like kids.

On the way back to camp I stopped at place I have had luck catching some big fish over the years. I told Dutch he really needed to tie on a heavier piece of tippet material just in case he turned a lunker, but he just gave me a smile. On his second cast in the fast water he got his chance, a huge cutt measured in pounds came out of the water like a Polaris missile and straight down on his fly. Of course the leader and fly separated instantly, Chief Holland survivor of two wars, five marriages and numerous encounters with the Mother ship just stood shaking his head.

 Later that evening he told me it was like the lyrics of that old Sinatra song: “Regrets I’ve had a few but then again too few to mention”; he said, straight out of “My Way.” ”But man I would have loved to have landed that fish.” When we left to go home I gave Dutch one of my Troutbum hats and told him I’d bring the whiskey when I returned in the fall. I only hope his ship hasn’t sailed by the time I get back

More Trout Bum Articles:
05/01/2015: The wolves will always eat the sheep by R.Sumner
11/17/2014: Red Fish Redux by R.Sumner
08/01/2014: Retirement by R.Sumner
07/02/2013: Custom by Randal Sumner
05/01/2013: Subaru Magic by Randal Sumner
01/19/2012: Ding Ho by RandalSumner
04/06/2011: A Cautionary Tale by Randal Sumner
01/26/2010: Redfish Round-up by Randal Sumner
11/24/2009: Kentucky Don and English Bob by Randal Sumner
08/25/2009: A word about Bears by R.Sumner
06/30/2009: Polar bear hugging by Randal Sumner
01/27/2009: Christmas letters by Randal Sumner
11/25/2008: Trip to Eden by Randal Sumner
08/07/2008: Mime Time by R. Sumner
06/02/2008: fuel vs fishing by R. Sumner
05/01/2008: Long sleeve Hawiian shirt by R.Sumner
02/07/2008: The Empire by R. Sumner
11/29/2007: Troutbum self-help by R. Sumner
09/04/2007: The Perfect Client by Randal Sumner
07/02/2007: High Anxiety by R.Sumner
03/29/2007: Grasshopper by Randal Sumner
01/25/2007: Chinese food by R. Sumner
11/30/2006: Old Whitey by R.Sumner
07/10/2006: BBQ by R.Sumner
05/30/2006: Cashmere by R. sumner
03/30/2006: Sterling Choices by Randal Sumner
01/26/2006: Tying with Pablo by Randal Sumner
12/01/2005: Brrr by Mark Littleton
11/24/2005: Thanksgiving 2005 by randal Sumner
09/01/2005: Anchors Away by Mark Littleton
07/01/2005: Some kinda fun by Randal Sumner
05/01/2005: The Base Lake by Randal Sumner
04/01/2005: Humble Pie by Mark Littleton
03/01/2005: Dance monkey dance by randal Sumner
01/01/2005: Where are the Instructions? by Randal Sumner
12/01/2004: Das Boat by Mark Littleton
11/01/2004: What me Worry? by Mark Littlton
10/01/2004: Priorities by Mark Littlton
09/01/2004: Falling In by Mark Littleton
08/01/2004: Ice Fishing by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Honey, I flooded the basement by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Elvis Lives by Randal Sumner
06/01/2004: Coyote by Randal Sumner
05/01/2004: Redfish and Capt. Dan by Mark Littleton
04/01/2004: Vested Interest by Randal Sumner
03/01/2004: Are you a Troutbum? by Mark Littleton
12/01/2003: Christmas presents by Mark Littleton
11/01/2003: Oklahoma by Randal Sumner
10/01/2003: Steel heading JuJu by Randal Sumner
09/01/2003: Motor Home by Randal Sumner
08/01/2003: Life is Funny by Mark Littlton
07/01/2003: Deschutes by Mark Littleton
06/01/2003: Class of 2002 by Randal Sumner
05/01/2003: BOAT FISHING by Mark Littlton
04/01/2003: ALASKA, LAND OF THE MIDNIGHTBLUE TARP by Randal Sumner
03/01/2003: MARCH BROWNS by Mark Littleton
02/01/2003: DEEP IN THE HEART OF IDAHO by Randal Sumner
01/01/2003: TOP TEN by Mark Littleton
12/01/2002: SAN MIGUEL by Randal Sumner
11/01/2002: DISNEYLAND by Randal Sumner
10/01/2002: CAMPING by Mark Littleton
09/01/2002: MMMM MAYFLIES by Mark Littleton
08/01/2002: CARNEGIE HALL by Randal Sumner
07/01/2002: CRAWFISH PIE by Randal Sumner
06/01/2002: Sons and Pals by Mark Littleton
03/01/2002: Visitation by Randal Sumner
02/01/2002: Ouch by Mark Littleton
01/01/2002: Death by Randal Sumner
11/01/2001: Leakers by Randal Sumner
09/01/2001: Poser by Randal Sumner
08/01/2001: Snake River Diary by Mark Littleton
08/01/2001: It's Hard by Mark Littleton
07/01/2001: Etiqutte by Randal Sumner
06/01/2001: June by Mark Littleton
05/01/2001: Road Trip to Paradise by Randal Sumner
04/01/2001: What Are They Doing Up There? by Mark Littleton
03/01/2001: Gear by Randal Sumner
02/01/2001: Soft Hackles by Mark Littleton
01/25/2001: Motivation by Randal Sumner
12/28/2000: Winter Fishing by Mark Littleton
11/30/2000: Old Blackie by Randal Sumner