Tracing a Cross-Country Father-Son Trout Trek

Several weeks ago, a boy and his father set forth from Georgia on a nationwide tour of the most scenic trout fisheries in America. Now, as the journey nears its end, FTR checks in with the father-son duo that has traveled more than 6,000 miles in search of America’s most beautiful trout streams. 

“We’re fishing a lot of waters both in and out of National Parks, where only barbless and/or single-hook artificial lures are permitted and where most anglers fly fish,” explains Jeff Samsel, the veteran outdoor writer and adventuring father who has taken his son Asher along for the cross-country test trial of Rebel’s new barbless lures. “Having the new Rebel Micro Craws and Minnows, which are single-hook and barbless, has been a huge asset.”

If you’re wondering how you fill time in a car for over 6,000 miles, the Samsels have some answers for you. “Ballgames, when we can find them,” says Jeff. “Talking about the area we are passing through, skimming satellite radio.”

Here’s a look at the road traveled by the father-son duo thus far (note, you can click the “more” icon to jump to one of the Samsel’s blog posts about each destination):

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The map is a trout angler’s dream that includes some of the most storied waters in the lower 48 states, but among the highlights, Samsel told FTR that one in particular far surpassed expectations—the North Fork of the Skokomish River inside of Olympic National Park. “The old growth forest around the river and boulders in the river bed made it as pretty as any place I’ve ever fished,” writes the elder Samsel, whose clarification there is necessary as (like father, like son) young Asher has also taken to writing about the trout trek.

Asher’s blog lends a unique perspective to the journey, especially when father and son happen to post on the same day about the same place. And if you spend a few minutes browsing both blogs, you’ll find no more poignant place than Muir’s Muse—Yosemite.

On Yosemite

Asher: “Today my dad and I went to Yosemite National Park. We got to fish, but we didn’t catch any fish, but it was so much fun. We saw El Capitan which is the highest cliff in the world!!!!!! It is huge. It is 3,000 feet tall. It’s so amazing. We saw Yosemite falls, which is 2,425 feet tall and is the 6th highest waterfall in the world!!!!!! We saw so many totally amazing things that I can’t even describe. You should definitely go and see it for yourself!!! Yosemite National Park is my Grandpa’s favorite place in the world. His favorite place in Yosemite is a huge rock feature called Half Dome.”

Jeff:  “I felt a shiver when Asher and I rounded a bend on California Highway 120 and I got a good look at Half Dome at the head of the grand valley below us…Yosemite National Park is my dad’s favorite place in the world. We first discovered its wonders as a family while on vacation when I was probably around Asher’s age, and after that my dad found every excuse he could to travel to California for work, always taking a couple of days of vacation to explore. He also has made numerous personal trips there, including taking me to Yosemite for a week after I graduated college. Therefore, showing Asher El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridal Veil Falls and Yosemite Falls as we moved from one river pool to the next was extra fun. In fact, the hardest part was the need to leave with so many things unseen.”

The observations, like a glimpse back in time, allude to the heart of fishing; a heart that Ken Duke wrote about earlier this week—fishing is a family sport. And while the Trout Trek is a splendid showcase of Rebel’s new lures, it is an even more poignant example of sportfishing as a whole.

A few days ago, somewhere on a winding California highway, Jeff Samsel felt a shiver down his spine, just as his father had before him. And one day, Asher Samsel may find himself driving down the same California Highway with the same tune in his head and the same shiver down his spine. Partly, that will be thanks to the beauty of Yosemite and partly, it will be because of a fishing trip with his father somewhere in the distant past.

Fishing, like fatherhood, is a cyclical game.

You can follow along for the remainder of the Samsel's Trout Trek, or view the archives at and Jeff's Facebook page.