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Stream Access

Photo by Corey Kruitbosch

Public Mistrust Doctrine

“The topic of stream access illustrates one of the most perplexing types of legal conflicts that can arise… Indeed, it is difficult to find a legal issue that is more tangled and uncertain.” —A Wildlife Primer (2009), by Eric Freyfogle and Dale Goble

Colorado’s river laws might be in trouble. Roger Hill, the octogenarian trying to fulfill his dream of legally wade-fishing the Arkansas River, was at the Colorado Court of Appeals on January 27 and got good news about his case—Hill v Warsewa. 

Biggie Smalls Featured Pic

Photo by Kendrick Chittock

Biggie Smalls

There was no doubt it was a steelhead. Until it wasn’t. The grab had been so jolting, the head shakes so violent, that no consideration was given to the fish being anything but a steelhead. Yet there at my feet, in six inches of water, lay a brown smallmouth of grotesque proportions. Pulsing and flexing, flaunting its outsized strength.

Laurel Hell Featured Pic

Finding solitude in Appalachia

Fishing a Laurel Hell

In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself within a dark woods where the straight way was lost. —Dante Alighieri, The Inferno

In Appalachia, there’s no straight way to travel. Laurel hell grows thick, and the only way to navigate it is to put your feet in a streambed and follow every meander and oxbow of the creek.

Bimini guide Ansil Saunders appreciating the Super Bowl I game ball

Ballin’ in Bimini

Mighty Waters, a wonderful movie released last year by Austin-based filmmaker Shannon Vandivier, tells the story of beloved Bimini-based guide and boat-builder Ansil Saunders, in particular how Saunders had taken Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. out for a peaceful day on Bahamian waters just four days before King was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968. The fascinating story was part of the 2021 Fly Fishing Film Tour and was broadly shared with the public in early February by two of its sponsors, Simms and Costa.

Photo by James Fuller

Rodney Noel Jarvis

Sitting on my fly-tying desk, on a shelf above the straggle chenille and holographic tinsel, is an 80-year-old Richard Wheatley fly tin. The edges of its aluminum lid, with that distinctive satin finish, are rubbed bright from the friction of bouncing about in a fly-vest pocket. It bears the inscription:

R.N. Jarvis

4, Short St.

Cambridge

Roll Clyde

There are two primary fishing cultures in Alabama: 1) The esoteric and exceedingly idealistic group of anglers that enjoy flyfishing and eating greasy Jack’s biscuits before a fishing trip. 2) Ricky-Bobby types who fish with junk baits. Needless to say, tournament pros burning up the interstates and roaring across impoundments with their 250-horse motors vastly outnumber those with “tippet” on their shopping list.

Photo by Kurt Budliger

Tiger King

My older brother Charlie—the red-haired menace of my youth, and the protagonist of so many fishing adventures—came to visit me in Canada. It was mid-August when I picked him up from the airport. He was hungover and indignant, as one of his rods had been lost in transit. We headed straight for a well-regarded trout stream in southern Ontario where there were rumors of giant browns, stopping eight hours later at the local fly shop to book a half-day trip with some dude named Larry.

Photo by Kurt Budliger

Kings

Let this be a warning to you and to me and to all the other salmon killers out there; to the moochers and trollers and dam builders; the seiners and gillnetters; sushi chefs and leach mines; treaty breakers, billy clubs, old-growth bulldozers, and an ocean of plastic; to fillet knives, fish farms, and this ever-warming world, let this be a warning: These fish will outlast you.

Elfin Cove Featured Photo

Not a Steelhead. Photo by Israel Patterson

Drake Cast #55 Untouched Nature – Steelhead Ch. 2

It’s been a while, but The Drakecast is back by popular demand, at least for a little bit. We’ve got six episodes slated for release between now and the end of 2021.The first of these episodes (which also happens to be the second of the Steelhead Miniseries) is a story of the fine line between exploration and exploitation.

Fly Fishing Russia: The Far East.

Misha Skopets’ Biggest Fish

Misha Skopets’ Biggest FishFly Fishing Russia: The Far East, a review BY Ryan Peterson Photos: Guido Rahr (above), John Sherman (below) One day in the summer of 1979, Dr. Mikhail “Misha” Skopets, a young Russian ichthyologist based in Magadan in the Soviet Far East, found a mysterious fish skeleton in the stomach of a Boganid…

Bass Fy Fishing

Let’s Go Bass’n

Let’s Go Bass’nIt’s time to test the warmwaters By Beau Davis and Tom Bie Photo by Jeremiah Watt Want to avoid bumping elbows with ten million new trout-chasers this summer? Then consider a guided day on some warmwater. You’ll surely face a less-pressured fishery, and if the trip includes kicking around in a float-tube, you…

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)