For a while I didn’t think a fish was worth catching unless it was taken on a fly that came from the jaws of my vice, all threaded, leaded and possibly whip-finished by my own hands.
- Photography by: Jeff Edvalds
When you first take a look at a Stone Bomb, it looks like a lot of other big, nasty, rubber-legged stonefly imitations. Much like its designer, it is not until you dig a little deeper that the fly’s nuances become apparent. What you will find with Frank Smethurst’s Bomb Squad lineup is that attention to detail matters.
>If you have ever watched a permit suddenly appear on a flat, bob in a gentle wave for a moment and quickly disappear into deeper water without a trace, you know the deal—permit are confounding.
“Fly-fishing literature” seems too small a fish to fillet into parts; worse yet, the cuts are often ragged. The cheap way to do this would be to call one genre “lyrical,” suggesting pirouettes, poetry and fiction, and the other “didactic,” usually too stiff and weighty a word. Even if these terms applied at all, the problem with reviewing collections of short works is that many contain pieces of both kinds. So let’s do this:
>Northeast Utah’s Green River harbors up to 20,000 trout per mile; thanks to flushing flows in 2011 those fish are now feeding on improved aquatic insect hatches and growing fast.
- Photography by: Brent Prettyman
Travis Sylvester is the only artist I know who works exclusively in colored pencils, and I must confess . . . I know very little about the medium, or the process he’s chosen.
- Illustrations by: Travis Sylvester
Suction dredging for gold, legal in most of the UNITED STATESbut especially popular in the West, is essentially a recreational form of mining. Six grand will buy you a portable gasoline-powered dredge, a sluice box, a wet suit and scuba gear, and you’re good to go (as they say). With a hose, usually four inches in diameter, you vacuum up inanimate and animate stuff from the bottom of the river, pushing away the big rocks and dislodging large woody debris. Because gold is heavier than wood, bark, gravel, fish eggs, fish fry, mussels, snails and insect larvae, it settles out in your sluice box (floating or anchored on shore). In most states you can buy a permit for less than the cost of a fishing license, but you don’t need one because there’s virtually no enforcement. In many locations the Mining Act of 1872 allows you to stake a claim to a river section and evict the public. Then you don’t even have to dredge; you can just hang out and enjoy your privatized public property.
- Photography by: Jonathan Oppenheimer
Jim Schollmeyer and I fished Oregon’s OWYHEE RIVER TAILWATER LAST spring, a couple of weeks after the water took its annual bump up to supply irrigation to a vast flatland of ranches far downstream. The water was just a bit off color, as always at that time of year. It also spread out over some shallows that earlier had been gravel bars and gently sloped grassy banks. Such water, recently dry land, becomes productive in a relatively short time. Trout move onto those flats to feed, but they’re somewhat exposed—and therefore a bit nervous—when they do. You can’t just wade up to them, put on your brakes, toss a standard nymph and indicator over their heads to the water upstream and then expect them to still be around when your nymphs drift by. They’ve fled in fear.
- Photography by: Dave Hughes
I don’t fly well, believing that the easiest way to endure the air is to wash down a NyQuil with Maker’s Mark, close your eyes and hope for the best. So I fly, but I’m not sophisticated about it. In other words, I am not the Most Interesting Man in The World. In fact, during flights I often study the attendants’ expressions. If they look calm I’m cool; if their eyes get wide or if the plane hits one of those airless pockets, I sink my fingers into the armrests. Every time a pilot drops the landing gear I look out the window to see if the engines have fallen off. If I were religious I’d cross myself after each landing.
- Photography by: Greg Thomas
IN ERNEST HEMINGWAY’S 1925 short story “Big Two-Hearted River,” the protagonist, Nick, sets up camp after a long hike with a heavy pack that makes him desperately hungry. So before he goes fishing, he cooks a reckless meal: He mixes a can of pork and beans with a can of spaghetti and eats it slathered with ketchup. He says to himself, “I’ve got a right to eat this kind of stuff, if I’m willing to carry it,” something every backpacker who’s lugged cans of food miles into the woods has thought.
- Photography by: Judith O’Keefe
WHERE YOU ARRIVE AFTER A LIFETIME OF FLY-FISHING depends to a large extent on how you start out. By the time I was into my late teens and tying flies that looked like the ones in the books, I reckoned that a fly riding half-sunk in the surface was at least as effective as a well-cocked dry fly, even if I didn’t know why. Over time, that hunch strengthened into a conviction that a fly in the surface film is far more deadly than one perched on its tiptoes.
- Photography by: Carl McNeil
FOR ANGLERS IN THE EAST AND MIDWEST, THE
appearance of Ephemerella subvaria is a sign that spring—and more important, trout season—has arrived in earnest. This mayfly—in many venues, the first good hatch of the season—is encountered from southern Appalachia through Pennsylvania, west to Michigan and Wisconsin, and throughout New England as far north as Maine. In the southern part of its range, it might occur in April; farther north, it appears toward the middle or latter part of May.
EVERY FLY-FISHING SUBSPECIES CONFRONTS ITS own particular version of the same predicament—how to carry flies on the water in some reasonably organized and easily accessible fashion. For trout anglers, who tend to accumulate more flies than a Dumpster collects bags of trash, the storage problem stems from the sheer number and variety of patterns. For saltwater fishermen, it comes from oversized streamers on big irons; for bass folks, from bulky popper and divers. Every season, it seems, begins with a clever new storage scheme and ends with the same two thoughts:
There are many ways in which I relax. Admittedly,fishing is not one of them. In fact, it is not at all the appeal of “ease” that draws me to the sport. Truth betold, since the day I was born I have needed adventure to flush my cheeks and sparkle my eyes. I have needed the uncertainty of what’s around the corner to spark my interest, and it just so happens that in fishing, there are a lot of those corners.
IT WAS THE KIND OF BONE-DRY, 98-DEGREE day that makes the enameled blue Colorado sky feel like an anvil on your head. It hadn’t rained in a month and everything was wilted, from the junipers and cottonwoods to the sleeping cats draped over the porch railing like dishrags. And taking up most of the northern horizon was the immense plume of smoke from the High Park fire, with slurry bombers swarming it like flies.
- Illustrations by: Bob White