Spring Steel on Idaho's Upper Salmon River

  • By: Greg Thomas
  • Photography by: Greg Thomas
Alp Fmt    

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I’ve created a problem for myself; I am a steelhead junkie who lives 500 miles from salt water, in a state where those big sea-run rainbows don’t even exist.

I like where I live—Missoula, Montana—and I’m quite sure this is where I will raise my daughters. But in the back of my mind there’s this idea to endear a Canadian scarlet, gain dual citizenship (plus healthcare, right), and move north, to Campbell River, Bella Coola or, even better, to Smithers or Terrace, British Columbia, where the greatest race of steelhead still pours into the Skeena, Babine, Kispiox, Kitimat and Sustut rivers. That’s the glory list, and I could see myself fishing those waters a couple hundred days a year while pretending that I care about hockey.

Swimming Hole

  • By: Scott Sadil
  • Photography by: Scott Sadil
Umpqua

I used to think an old river channel had forced engineers to link a pair of spans, end to end, where in essence they were building only one long bridge. Yet the more I look at it, the more I wonder if that side channel wasn’t put there for the purpose of diverting the river while they built the main bridge. How else could they have constructed the forms and secured the rebar and poured the concrete for the piling that supports what now spans the river in all its restless glory?

Should you venture under the bridge, you’ll notice that the piling stands in the heart of the river—not quite in the middle of it, but in the deepest, heaviest part of the current. If you know anything about rivers—or surf, for that matter—you know that this is how currents usually operate. Anchor a big obstacle in moving water, you can be sure to generate all kinds of concentrated energy—just as if you were to raise a metal flagpole into a stormy summer sky. Swing a big dark fly toward the piling, it will sometimes find a fish that feels like those same potent forces funneled through the end of your line.

Bushwhacking along the Talkeetna River, Alaska

  • Photography by: Gabe Rogel
Frr Presentation Fmt

Specs: Canon A2 body; 28-200mm lens; Fuji Provia 100 film; f8; 1/100

Smoke On (and off) The Water

  • By: Thomas R. Pero
  • Photography by: Thomas R. Pero
Cigars

Cigars and fly-fishing go together. Norman Rockwell may have portrayed a genial, grandfatherly angler serenely smoking his pipe, but the irascible Vincent Marinaro, wizard of the Letort, counted the rhythm between a brown trout’s rises while puffing on a Havana Punch-Punch. And Robert Traver, the wise old Michigan judge and novelist, offered this advice in Trout Madness (1960), one of my favorite fishing books of all time: “If you are hardy enough, smoke Italian cigars. They smell like a burning peat bog mixed with smoldering Bermuda onions but they’re the best damned unlabeled DDT on the market; all mosquitoes in the same township immediately shrivel and zoom to earth.”

Times have changed. Today’s fly fisher looking forward to adding a fine cigar or two to his or her next watery adventure is confronted with a confusing thicket of hundreds of brands in thousands of sizes. Which to choose? Let me make it easy. Here are my picks for six superb hand-rolled smokes in a range of taste, sizes and prices. These cigars draw beautifully and burn evenly. Each one is extraordinary.

The Best of Muskie Country

  • By: Brad Bohen
  • Photography by: Tosh Brown
Towee Boats - Guide tested skiffs.   

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  • Best Place to Catch Your First Muskie
  • Best Place For A 50-Pounder
  • One River For Eternity
  • One Fly For Eternity
  • Must-Have Meal
  • Best Bar
  • Best Nightlife

Muskie Tribe

  • By: Brad Bohen
  • Photography by: Tosh Brown
brad_bohen_muskie_tribe.jpg 

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I used to be a blissfully happy trout angler living a normal life in southwest Montana, catching dozens of fish a day on tiny dries or great big streamers. I had a job, a life, a routine. Now I’m a bachelor living in the Wisconsin northwoods, packing a fly box the size of a briefcase, and I’m happy when I boat a single fish in a long day on the water. My only routine is treating chronically slashed-up hands and healing my pride after it is trounced by what has become the focus of my life—the muskellunge.

So why did I give up trout and take on this highly predatory and confounding fish? The answer is this: The pull of my home state was too strong to ignore, and I wanted to rediscover myself, find my soul, on the water, while mastering what many considered an impossible task—regularly taking muskie with flies.

Presentation

  • Photography by: Tosh Brown
Tosh Brown Fmt

Blake Brown takes his shot at “cruising” carp near Spofford, Texas.

Blowing it Up

  • By: Robert S Tomes
  • Photography by: Tosh Brown
Blowing It Up    

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Whether you realize it or not, modern fly-fishing is guided by an age-old code of conduct with specific rules that help you catch more fish and, in some cases, keep the peace. Among those rules: don’t spook the fish; don’t drag your fly; keep your tip up; let the fish run; and never, ever give away a friend’s secret spot.

That’s all true in the world of trout, but in the Midwest and its emerging world of muskie fly-fishing, anglers are smashing those rules by blending elements of conventional and saltwater techniques, including big flies and figure-eight retrieves, to take muskie, with regularity, on flies.

Wildlife Encounters

  • By: John Gierach
  • Photography by: Cathy Beck
  • , Jeff Edvalds
  • , Barry Beck
  • and Jim Klug
Grizzly Angler

You naturally think of bears first. Whether they’re seen from a safe distance or they’re uncomfortably close, you have a visceral response. “That thing could kill me,” is how you’d verbalize it, although the emotion itself predates language.

Winter North Vs. South

  • By: Greg Keeler
  • , Will Rice
  • , MIles Nolte
  • and Bruce Smithhammer
  • Photography by: Will Rice
  • , Brian Grossenbacher
  • , Louis Cahill
  • and Lucas Carroll
North Vs. South

Sink your toes in the sand or in the snow?

Risk sunburn or frostbite?

Cast for half-frozen trout or full-bore saltwater speedsters?

Our crack angling team makes a case for each.