or, perhaps Olive the Woolly Blogger...

Tag: kids fly fishing books

Sponsor Spotlight: Flyfishmap.com

This is Part 4 in a series of sponsor spotlights to shout out to the companies that helped make the Olive the Woolly Bugger iPad app a possibility. The app is available in the App Store, here, and right now during the month of December the app is on sale for only $1.



1. Business Name: FlyFishMap.com

2. Your title/position: (Ed Burgass) Founder/Owner

3. Services Offered:  FlyFishMap is a google maps mashup collating fly fishing information from around the world. It’s been in beta for 3 years now and during that time, we’ve learnt a lot about the market and made lots of connections largely through social media. The new version we are planning will certainly reflect that experience.  It will contain improved functionality, more social media integration, enhanced mapping solutions, improved browser and platform compatibility and more interesting services for fly fishing businesses to promote themselves.

We hope to have this out in early 2013 so stay tuned.

4. How long have you been in business/worked for your current company? 3 years.

5. What made you decide to become a sponsor of the Olive the Woolly Bugger iPad app? I love what Kirk has been trying to achieve with the Olive brand and think the books are great…it’s blatantly a great way of introducing kids to fly fishing and showing them some of the core principles of responsible fly fishing in a fun way. The iPad just seems like the perfect platform for the books, kids love iPads and the interactivity just adds another dimension to the printed product.

So I thought it was a great opportunity to support a brilliant idea and FlyFishMap is proud to be associated with the Olive iPad app.


Thank you to FlyFishMap for being a sponsor. Please check out their website, spend a little time looking around and seeing what it’s about.

Sponsor Spotlight: Redington

This is Part 1 in a series of sponsor spotlights to shout out to the companies that helped make the Olive the Woolly Bugger iPad app a possibility. The app is available in the App Store, here, and right now during the month of December the app is on sale for only $1.


1. Business Name: Redington

2. Your title/position: (Jennifer Gish) Marketing Manager

3. Services Offered: Redington designs and manufacturers everything you need for fly fishing. Including rods, reels, outfits, waders, boots, apparel and accessories.

4. How long have you been in business/worked for your current company? I have been with Redington for a little over 3 years now.

5. What made you decide to become a sponsor of the Olive the Woolly Bugger iPad app? For the past few years Redington has spent a lot of effort trying to get new people into the sport of fly fishing, including our youth. They are the future of fly fishing. Redington loves Olive and what she does for kids. Olive the Woolly Bugger makes fly fishing even more fun and makes it exciting for our youth. How could we not be a part of something with that much passion!


Thank you to Redington for being a sponsor. Please check out the Redington website for all that they offer for your fly fishing needs: Redington.com


Getting to know: Clark, the Steelhead Fry

Steelhead fry

This is the fifth in a series of interviews with characters from the Olive books. If you’re already familiar with the books, you’ll know these “folks” being interviewed. If you’ve not yet seen the books, these interviews will give you some insight into the colorful cast of characters who help to make Olive’s adventures so engaging and fun.

Read the first interview here, the second interview here, the third interview here, and the fourth interview here.

Today, Olive talks with a very good friend whom she met when she went for a wild adventure in book #3, Olive Goes for a Wild Ride. This friend isn’t a fly, but rather he’s a fish. Welcome, Clark the small fry.

Olive: Hey Clark! I hardly recognized you!

Clark: Hi Olive!  Yeah, I’ve been eating a lot and growing quite a bit since our wild adventure.  I gotta get bigger and stronger so I can swim out to sea!

Olive: I want to talk about that, but first let’s go back to when we met. Who knows what might have happened to me if you hadn’t gotten me untangled! I’ll never forget that day.

Clark: Me neither.  But I didn’t just help you…you helped me in so many ways. I didn’t know much about anything when I was small. Heck I didn’t even know what you were. I thought you were some sort of fish!

Olive: Well, you weren’t very big and hadn’t learned many things yet. But together we went on a great adventure and we both learned a lot.

Clark: You were an awesome teacher, Olive.

Olive: I don’t know about that, but I had an awesome teacher myself–Mr. Muddler Minnow!

Clark: Everyone has to have a great teacher–it’s the only way we can learn new things!

Olive: So, Clark, you’re a steelhead fry, right?

Clark: Actually, I’m a steelhead smolt, now. I used to be a fry.

Olive: What’s the difference, for those of us who don’t know?  And also, what is a steelhead?

Clark: Well, a steelhead is a rainbow trout. We hatch from eggs in rivers, but the difference is that rainbows remain in the rivers for their entire life, living the life of a trout.  Steelhead are anadromous.

Olive: Anadromous means that you swim out to sea, right?

Clark: Exactly. Remember Sockeyed Jack, the Pacific Salmon?  He taught us about that. After we swim out to see we spend a few years getting really big and and strong. Then we return to the river where we were born to spawn. So, that’s the difference between regular rainbow trout and steelhead, even though we’re really the same species of fish.

Olive: That is so amazing.  How do you know if you’re a rainbow trout or a steelhead? I mean since it’s the same species?

Clark: I really don’t know.  I just know!

Olive: So, you mentioned that you’re no longer a fry. Now you’re a smolt?

Clark: Yep. When we first met I was really little. Now I’m quite a bit bigger, and I’m almost ready to head out to sea. But I’m nowhere near being as big as I’m gonna get! Man, the ocean is gonna be like a smorgasboard of food!

Olive: Are you excited for that?

Clark: Totally!  I mean, living in the Big Stream is cool- it’s an awesome place, and there are lots of bugs to eat and stuff. But out in the ocean there’s a lot more food. I can’t wait. I’m always hungry!

Olive: Oh, I remember.  You were always munching on bugs.

Clark: You really should try a grasshopper sometime. They taste like chicken!

Olive: (laughs) You’re so funny, Clark. So will you promise to come back to The Big Stream someday?

Clark: You betcha!  We never did get to go fishing, so when I come back maybe we can do that!

Olive: You can count on it!

Clark: 1..2..3..4..

Olive: Um, Clark, what are you doing?

Clark: Counting on it!  (laughs)

Olive: I’ve sure missed your sense of humor.  I can’t wait until you come back from your adventure at sea. OK, I know you’re getting ready to go, so let me ask one more quick question before you head out to the ocean. If you were in a movie and you could choose a famous actor to lend their voice talent to the role of Clark the Steelhead Fry, who would you choose?

Clark: I think my first choice would be Henry Winkler. He seems like a really nice guy, and I know he really likes fly fishing. In fact, he recently wrote a book titled, I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the Water and he’s also the author of children’s books. So yeah, definitely Henry Winkler. But if he’s too busy, then maybe Dana Carvey, ’cause I’ve heard he likes to fly fish, too.

Henry Winkler

Getting to know: Gilbert the Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear

Gold-Ribbed Hare's Ear

This is the second in a series of interviews with characters from the Olive books. If you’re already familiar with the books, you’ll know these “folks” being interviewed. If you’ve not yet seen the books, these interviews will give you some insight into the colorful cast of characters who help to make Olive’s adventures so engaging and fun.

Read the first interview, here.

Today, Olive talks with her best friend whom she met on her first day at Camp Tightloops, Gilbert the Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear.

Olive: Gilbert! Thanks for stopping by to chat with me today.

Gilbert: Thanks for inviting me, Olive. This is pretty cool that you have your own blog. Maybe I should call you Olive the Woolly Blogger!

Olive: (laughs) You’re silly, Gilbert. So, tell us–what is a Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear? By the way, that’s a mouthful so we’re going to abbreviate it with GRHE, OK?

Gilbert: (laughs) Sure thing! I’m not very big, but I definitely have a big name! A GRHE is a nymph fly tied to imitate baetis (mayfly) nymphs. Most mayflies aren’t very big, so that’s why I’m small.

Olive: What’s a nymph, for those who don’t know?

Gilbert: A nymph is an immature insect, before it hatches into an adult with wings. Nymphs live underwater where they swim around or crawl on rocks.

Olive: So how do you go about fishing? Do you zip and dart like a streamer?

Gilbert: Mostly what I do is bounce along the bottom of the river like a real insect nymph tumbling in the current. It’s called ‘dead drifting.’

Olive: Dead drifting? That sounds kinda scary!

Gilbert: Oh, it’s not scary at all. It just means that the fly drifts naturally in the water as if its not attached to a line. I need to look as realistic as possible in order to fool fish, because as you know, fish can get pretty smart.

Olive: You look pretty real to me! I bet you fool a lot of fish.

Gilbert: Thanks! I don’t always catch fish, but nymph fishing is a pretty effective way to catch fish since fish eat most of their meals under the water.

Olive: I’d never met a nymph before I went to Camp Tightloops. Do you remember when we first met at camp?

Gilbert: Of course I do! You were feeling pretty sad because the dry flies were teasing you. That wasn’t very nice of them. The dry flies were sort of a clique, like an exclusive bunch of popular kids. Since I wasn’t one of the cool kids I knew exactly how you were feeling.

Olive: That was really nice of you to approach me and become my friend. Luckily the dry flies didn’t all turn out to be snobs, except for Randal the Royal Coachman.

Gilbert: Yeah, I don’t understand why Randal had such an attitude problem. He was never nice to anyone if they weren’t a dry fly. But karma came back to haunt him because he didn’t make it into The Fly Box.

Olive: Yeah, I actually felt bad for him on graduation day. I wish the best for Randal. Maybe he’s changed by now. I think everyone can change and become better.

Gilbert: I agree. Change is what makes fly fishing so much fun, because sometimes the fish like one fly, and the next minute they want something different.  We have to be willing to change flies and try something new. There’s no point in arguing over what works best, because what works best now may not work at all tomorrow!

Olive: That’s so true. And we all have our own talents and that’s what makes us unique.

Gilbert: Yep, and I love to watch different flies at work. It’s fascinating to me how the dry flies can float, and how streamers, like you, can zip and dart.

Olive: And I like watching how you can dead drift. I’m gonna try that sometime–it actually looks fun!

Gilbert: It is fun, and you should totally try it. Woolly Buggers are great for dead drifting!

Olive: Thanks, Gilbert. I’m going to do that next time I go fishing. Speaking of which, have you been fishing much lately?

Gilbert: Not as much as I’d like. It’s winter time and trout fishing can be pretty slow this time of year. When the water gets cold the fish aren’t very active, but I still like to go as much as possible. Fish still have to eat, after all, and nymph fishing can be very effective during the winter months.

Olive: So, we’ve been best friends for a long time. Not only were you my first friend, but you also rescued me in the third book, Olive Goes for a Wild Ride. Thanks for that, by the way!

Gilbert: You’re very welcome, Olive. That was quite a surprise to me when I found you in the third book. I’m sure glad I did because you had been on a really wild adventure. We were all glad to have you back in The Fly Box!

Olive: Thanks. It was great to be back home, too. One more question. If you were in a movie and you could choose a famous actor to lend their voice talent to the role of Gilbert the Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear, who would you choose?

Gilbert: Jimmy Kimmel. He’s funny and seems like he’d be a nice guy. And I know for sure he’s a fly fisherman because he’s talked about it and shown photos of himself fishing on his show. I think I look a little bit like him, too. Just kidding, Jimmy (laughs).

Jimmy Kimmel

Letters from kids.

One of the best things about being an author of children’s books is feedback I get from people who’ve seen my Olive the woolly bugger books.  Certainly I love to hear from parents and adults but the real rewards come when I hear from kids themselves. Recently I received a letter in the mail addressed to Olive the Woolly Bugger, from my new friend, Mariah:


Dear Kirk,

I just turned 10 August 25th. This year I am in 5th grade. It is so fun to fly fish. My favorite things to do are read, tie flies and fish. I have never caught a steelhead or a bass. I have caught trout many times. I hope to meet you sometime.

Your friend,



Mariah is obviously a smart kid: any youngster who likes reading and fly fishing has got life pretty much figured out already.  It comes as no surprise that Mariah is a fishy kid since her Grand Dad owns the Red Shed Fly Shop in Peck, Idaho (thanks for carrying the Olive books, Poppy!). Here’s a photo of the Olive books on the shelf at the Red Shed:

If you’re planning to fish the Clearwater River in Idaho, you’ll definitely want to stop by the Red Shed and meet Poppy (and Mariah, too, since I’m told she works there quite a bit).  While I’ve yet to fish the Clearwater, doing so is high on my list of things to do. You can bet I’ll be stopping by to meet Poppy and Mariah.

To get to the Red Shed:




And Mariah, I’m so glad you brought up steelhead and bass because those are the topics of my next two Olive books. Hopefully they’ll get published soon (tell all your friends about Olive!). Thanks for taking the time to write me, and for including the awesome drawing of the jumping rainbow trout!

Olive goes against the (main) stream.

I never set out to be a children’s book author – it just happened.  Had I been consciously trying to write a book, or series of books as it were, things would likely have turned out a lot differently: I would have had a specific plan in mind and probably would have adhered to the rules. Let’s examine what makes Olive a rule breaker, or perhaps more appropriately what makes Olive the woolly bugger unique.

First, the length of the Olive books sets them apart.  Typical children’s picture books, for young children who cannot read on their own or are just learning to read, are nearly always 32 pages. Why 32?  The reasons for this are physical: when you fold paper, eight pages folds smoothly into what’s called a signature, while any more results in a group of pages too thick to bind nicely. In addition, the 32 pages can all be printed on a single sheet of paper, making it cost-effective. In extremely rare cases, picture books may be 16, 24, 40 or 48 pages, all multiples of eight (a signature); but 32 pages is industry standard. The first book in the series, Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, is 48 pages.  Olive and The Big Stream is also 48 pages, and Olive Goes for a Wild Ride tops the charts at 56 pages! Woah, now! What was I thinking?

I’ll tell you what I wasn’t thinking: I wasn’t thinking about writing to a pre-determined format. I wrote as the story came to me, and that was that.  Certainly I realized that Olive didn’t fit the mold for a typical children’s picture book, but there was no way to tell the story in 32 pages. Chapter books allow for more writing, but they don’t showcase illustrations in the same manner as picture books. Being an illustrator I wanted pictures to be a big part of the books.  So what does one do when a book fits into neither a picture book format nor a that of a chapter book?  Run with scissors. Color outside the lines. Break new ground.

The result of my recklessness is a series of books that are age appropriate for a much broader range of children.  Youngsters who cannot read to the level of the story still love the illustrations. Therein lies a tremendous opportunity for the parents who love fly fishing to not only endure, but embrace story time with their children.  For the kids who can read well on their own the stories provide ample substance to challenge their reading ability, and the illustrations are a bonus for this audience.  Even kids who are well beyond the reading level of my books and who no longer need illustrations to entertain them enjoy Olive.  Heck, adults like her too. They’re fun stories with fun illustrations. Why do books have to have such stringent guidelines in order to make them appealing? They don’t, nor should they.

Very early on in my journey toward becoming an author, I hired a well-known editorial consultant to give me some feedback on my manuscripts. This particular individual has an impressive resume of having worked as an editor in the children’s book publishing industry for many years. This person even co-wrote a book on how to go about becoming a published author.  I do not discount their credentials and when I received my consultation notes from this person, there were many valid points that drove me to work further on my writing. Second in the list of rules that Olive breaks speaks to the characters in the books themselves, and when I heard this it caused me to roll my eyes a bit:  “Publishers don’t like stories about inanimate objects that go to school.”  I’ll admit, that was a problem because in the first book Olive goes off to Camp Tightloops to learn to become a fishing fly.  I decided that I would just have to disagree with this particular comment and forge ahead on my maverick journey.  The more I thought about it the more the comment made me realize that some editors/publishers are out of touch with reality. Kids are the audience for children’s books, and these people are not kids. To this day I remain fairly certain that children have wonderful, fantastic imaginations and can embrace a story of a fishing fly come to life that goes off to a learning institution to gain the knowledge needed to become successful. At least I didn’t write in rhyme, because editors really don’t like that.

Next I was told was that publishing house editors wouldn’t be interested in my book(s) because they have a niche market. I agreed about the niche market but I viewed it as a positive thing. My market was clearly defined for me, and I’d done some research and there really wasn’t much, if any competition for kids books in the fly fishing market. I also believed (and still do) that while the books are an obvious choice for the fly fishing market, they can certainly spill over into the mainstream children’s book market as well.

What we have is a 3 book series about a woolly bugger fishing fly and her many friends who go to camp and learn something. Then they set off on a series of adventures that put their schooling to the test.  The stories are fully written narratives with full page illustrations that capture the storyline and bring the words to life. The stories are engaging, whimsical and entertaining. They also teach important life lessons and impart some basic lessons in fly fishing as well as conservation-minded angling.  They are age appropriate to a broad range of kids.

So no, the Olive books don’t fit into the mold of traditional publishing industry. In the books Olive faces adversity, and yet through perseverance she discovers that she has a unique talent and ends up succeeding. The development of the books themselves parallels Olive’s journey, and while the books have yet to win any high profile awards or make the New York Times Bestseller list, I’ve visited schools and had children tell me they love Olive. I measure success is smaller increments. There is a place for the books as many have come to discover.  Kids like Olive. Parents like Olive. My publisher liked Olive enough to sign me to a contract. I must have done something right.

Judge for yourself. Go out and grab a set of books (don’t just buy one- it’s a series). I’m confident you’ll be hooked on Olive.