Drake Magazine Daily Fly Fishing News and Blog

Jacklin's Fly Shop in West Yellowstone

Jacklin's Fly Shop in March 2021. Photo by Beau Davis

Jacklin’s Fly Shop-Since 1974

“Look at that baby!” Bob Jacklin exclaims as the foamy waters of Montana’s Madison River churn steadily around him. Elegantly draped out of the net he’s holding is the tail of a now-famous 30-inch brown trout—a fish that Jacklin had caught before. “You talk about a fish—that is a big boy!”

Drake Magazine 2020 Winter

JUST OUT CATCHING LAS VEGAS LUNKERS.

Flyfishing Sin City

I thought I was still buzzed from the night before when I first saw what appeared to be a person lounging in a yellow pool-floatie on the water. “Only in Vegas,” I thought. Some drunk idiot ends up using Lake Bellagio as his personal swimming pool. But looking closer, I could see that the person was a man moving his arm back and forth a few times before bringing it to rest. “Is he casting?”

Drake Magazine 2020 Winter

Photo by Corey Kruitbosch

End-Times Steelhead. Group therapy on the Oregon Coast.

None of us guessed what was coming. Within hours of our leaving the river, the county would close all boat ramps and Oregon’s governor would implement stay-at-home guidelines. We were fishing on the last days of winter steelhead season 2020 and we didn’t even know it.

Image by Hogan Brown

The Life of Ryan. California fly angler wins conventional bass tourney.

Until January 4, I’d never even heard the term “float-n-fly.” It sounded like a kid’s ride at the fairground, or the street name for some illicit new drug. But I Googled it that day—the same day Oroville, California-based flyfishing guide Ryan Williams, and his partner, Logan McDaniel, won the Shasta Lake Wild West Bass Trail tournament.

Photo Courtesy Rep. Simpson's Office. Idaho's 2nd District G.O.P. Rep. Mike Simpson, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Stanley-to-Redfish Lake Trail. 

The Bold Effort. An Idaho Congressman shares his thoughts.

In April 2019, Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, gave a somewhat stunning keynote address at an environmental conference hosted by Boise State’s Andrus Center for Public Policy. His comments were thoughtful, educated, and encouraging. But mostly, they were surprising, particularly his thoughts about what might be necessary to save Idaho salmon. Rep. Simpson and I discussed the topic in mid-December, and his quotes below come from his keynote and our conversation. Can Idaho salmon truly be saved? No one knows. But the Congressman has been down a similarly daunting path. In 2015, Mr. Simpson’s 15-year effort to broker a seemingly impossible deal resulted in the creation of Idaho’s Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness. (Which Mark Menlove covered in his 2014 feature, “A Fisherman’s Monument.”) If wild salmon and steelhead can indeed be saved, then Rep. Simpson is providing these essential fish the best shot they’ve had in decades.

Photo by Kurt Budliger. The deeper colors of a seasoned grayling.

Ingrid. One woman leaves an oversized impression in Alaska.

I think that Ingrid would want you to know—as she stands in her waders, stands by her weir, looking down at a dark mass of grayling that were trapped in the night—that there was a time when no one would’ve thought fish would ever need to be counted. But she’d also want you to know that these don’t have to be the last wild days. She would want you to know that not everything has been lost, and that there is still the hope of unknown waters.

Photo by Josh Idol

Silver Lining Kings. Long walks on the beach in Southeast Florida.

My first tarpon on a fly was a stout, laid-up fish that ate my worm and broke me off an hour later. I was a teenager at the time, and fortunate to have a father who took me on an annual spring trip to the Keys. But as I grew older and started achieving some success on the bow, my focus shifted to permit. Like many permit anglers, my trips often ended with a long flight home, followed by a long-winded explanation to my wife about how I could spend three days fishing, catch nothing, yet still feel the trip was “a step in the right direction.” At the height of my addiction, I was focusing more on the seconds ticking away on my watch than I was on scanning the water. I’d lost the mental game before even stepping on the skiff.

Bobby Foster Chrome Winter OP

Commodities and Steelhead. An imperative shift on the Olympic Peninsula.

Wild Steelhead are not corn, wheat, or cattle. They are not oranges, apples, or anything that we can control with expected specific outcomes and pounds delivered to market. Put them in a box and they will swim right out of it.
Even among anadromous fish, steelhead are the least predictable of any salmonid swimming the North Pacific. They are never a species of multitude, like Kings, Coho, or even Pinks, that come home in a rush of biological delivery to the rivers spanning the West Coast. They cruise along the edges, arriving to their natal rivers in fits and spurts, with dozens of life histories across each watershed. In short, there were never that many steelhead to begin with.

Archie Creek Fire along the Umpqua Hwy (OR 138) Photo taken Sept. 12, 2020. INCIWEB/NWCG (National Wildfire Coordinating Group)

Archie Creek Fire along the Umpqua Hwy (OR 138) Photo taken Sept. 12, 2020. INCIWEB/NWCG (National Wildfire Coordinating Group)

Steelheading in the late 90s, before gloves were invented.

Steelheading in the late 90s, before gloves were invented. Photo: Forrest Arakawa

Thanksgiving Fireball. Redemption on the Babine.

The whole trip was Forrest’s dumb idea. But for Forrest, enthusiasm overcomes all obstacles. In his world, “Rad” is always capitalized. As in, “Dude! It’ll be so Rad to go fishing right now!” But Smithers over Thanksgiving? Not Canadian Thanksgiving, mind you—on October 12, a perfectly reasonable time to be fishing in northern British Columbia—but American Thanksgiving, a month and a half later.

Photos: Hansi Johnson

Photos: Hansi Johnson

Mississippi Learnin’. Smallies and pike on the mighty Mississippi.

Minnesota’s Mississippi shoreline bounds the “Southeast Blufflands” region, or what anglers know as the Minnesota Driftless. All five of us fish it: A magical world of pastoral valleys, each drained by a spring creek, mostly brimming with wild fish. 

Redfish friendly habitat in Northeast Florida. Photo: Alex Coleman

Redfish friendly habitat in Northeast Florida. Photo: Alex Coleman

North Florida Floodtides. Charleston isn’t the only tailing zone.

If you’re unfamiliar with flood-tide fishing, imagine your grassy front yard that your kid was supposed to cut three weeks ago but hasn’t. In the West this might attract crickets or hoppers, but in the coastal Southeast, when the right moons and weather combine, the grass floods, attracting snails. The snails attract fiddler crabs, the crabs attract redfish, and the redfish attract us.

Brianna Proctor

Proctor's Snake River Cutty from Wyoming's Hoback River.

Brianna Proctor. Finding new water, the hard way

For Brianna Proctor—a lead helicopter crewmember based in Swan Valley, Idaho—learning about and working near rivers all over the country has become a major benefit of her firefighting career. She’s been a wildland firefighter for 15 years, working primarily in the air attack and helicopter realm as a member of what’s called a “helitack” crew—a group that works alongside helicopters to facilitate water drops, fire recons, and the shuttling of crews into remote areas of the fire.

Drake Magazine Summer 2020 Socotra Slider

Photos by Ray Montoya

Stranded on Socotra

On March 13, 60-year-old retired schoolteacher Ray Montoya arrived on the Arabian Archipelago of Socotra, intent on landing what is thought to be the first permit on a fly from the war-torn country of Yemen. Three weeks later, the talented fly-tyer, photographer, artist, and angler was still there, grounded like the rest of us. But Montoya is not like the rest of us. A Navy veteran, he grew up in a third-generation military family, bouncing around the U.S. as a kid. He became a teacher after college, and in the late ’90s began teaching internationally with his wife, Kerry.

Bear Attack in Montana

Photo: Bryan Gregson

Ambushed. Another Bear Attack in Montana

When Matthew Churchman woke up on a recent Sunday morning, at first the only thing growling was his stomach. Coffee and a cold breakfast took care of that. Camp, nestled in a 300-yard-long, cottonwood-and-willow stretch of river bottom, was in the process of being broken down. Skies…

John Prine Fly Fishing

John Prine hanging out at Georgia State College, before a live interview on WRAS-FM. (Photo by Tom Hill/WireImage)

The Quarantine and John Prine

Got the news today. The troubadour of my soul’s playlist, the gravel-voiced poet of so many of our flyfishing adventures, John Prine, was hooked up to a ventilator. He didn’t survive. I keep waiting for one of the dearly departed to claw themselves…

March Madness - Finding calm amid coronavirus anxiety

Photo: Hansi Johnson

March Madness – Finding calm amid coronavirus anxiety

It was a brisk and beautiful morning, the sky cloudless, the sunlight sharp. It was the kind of day that under different circumstances would have you looking forward to the coming seasons of warmth and splendor and carefree fun. We began packing the car. I’ll never forget the looks on some of my neighbors’ faces as I took the bags of groceries—canned goods, pasta, rice and yes, even some toilet paper—to the car. Those faces betrayed thoughts. Wait, should I be doing the same thing? Fear may be the only thing more contagious than this virus.

Drake Magazine Southeast Alaska Tongass

Photo by Jim Klug

The Roadless Rule in America’s Salmon Forest

“Judge Sharon Gleason, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Alaska, ruled last week that the Forest Service violated federal law by approving future logging in the 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest.”

I pay my bills here in Southeast Alaska, at least in part, by having short and intense conversations on airplanes. I help wedge wadered clients from all over the globe into DeHavilland Beavers, then drop in on some of the planet’s most spectacular temperate rainforest

Drake_Magazine_2019_-4

A Wet World that Burns

Spending more time at home lately? Fancy yourself a writer? Could you use $2,500? Then consider entering a submission for the 2020 Robert Traver Fly Fishing Award, sponsored by the John D. Voelker Foundation and the American Museum of Fly Fishing (AMFF). Here is the link to the awards page: https://www.voelkerfoundation.com/traveraward/  and below is the winning submission from 2019—”A Wet World that Burns” by Jimmy Watts (photos by Carson Artac), which first appeared in the summer 2018 issue of The Drake

Baja Bait Ball in Magdalena Bay.

Photo: Nick Price

Mag Bay Magic

Survive, is what an angler does the first few minutes after hooking a striped marlin. My friend Nick and I shout with joy, accompanied by excited words in Spanish from our new friends. We watch a reel getting emptied and watch the fish leap, flip, and dive. Thirty minutes later and it’s the post-release chatter,…

Alaska West Lodge

Photo: Tosh Brown

American Greed, Inc.

riter and historian David T. Courtwright calls them “limbic capitalists”—people or companies that target our limbic system, the part of our brains primarily responsible for emotion, especially as it relates to pleasure, motivation, and survival. Courtwright is author of The Age of Addiction: How Bad Habits Became Big Business. “Biological evolution shaped the limbic system,…

Steelhead conservation in Oregon

Photo: Nate Koenigsknecht

Can’t We Let Them Live?

As a lifetime Oregon resident, angler, and guide, I spend 40-60 days a year on the rivers of the Southern Oregon coast. I interact with anglers that use all types of methods, and every one of them I’ve talked to has noticed a significant decline in encounters with wild steelhead. How can this be explained?…

Drake Magazine Winter Fly Fishing

Photo: Corey Kruitbosch

The Winter Writhe

It’s late February and I stumble out the door to grab another beer kept cold by winter’s free refrigeration. If it was anything but the high-octane variety, it would’ve frozen from a lack of alcohol. I pop the cap, drain it, and unzip my pants, melting as much snow as possible when I piss—anything to…

Video Dayz: The Mend

“The Mend” is a heartfelt story about a promising high-school football coach, who’s star player is also his son. After losing the championship game to crosstown rivals, a rift forms in the family dynamic. Years later the father-son duo, with the help of a river, find a way to reconnect. Directed by Broc J. Isabelle.…