After years of dreaming and fantasizing about fishing sea-run brown trout in South America I finally scratched that 30-year itch. And let me tell you it felt, at once, familiar and good.
You may already know that my passion is pursuing steelhead on western rivers, where a good day is just being on beautiful water swinging a pretty fly, anticipating an electrifying grab. A great day is when I actually hook a steelhead and anything beyond that is considered a banner day. It’s what I’ve come to expect; it’s how I roll.
- Photography by: Dec Hogan
what happens when two dads lose an anchor and their crab stash, and one drops an F-bomb in front of his young daughter? They become heroes, of course!
- Photography by: Greg Thomas
I was wandering Market Square, in Helsinki, Finland, checking out a variety of smoked and cured reindeer meats along with an array of seafood, ranging from mini-octopus all the way to Arctic char and deep-sea cod. And then I ran into the cheese gal—one of Helsinki’s ubiquitous blond, blue-eyed vixens.
We all have one: A list of places we just have to fish sometime. Some we’ve never been to, some deserve a return visit. They’re the places that occupy our daydreams, when we’re stuck in a meeting and wish we were somewhere else, when we’re shoveling the drive after yet another dumping of snow… These are places where the weather’s always good, the tides are in our favor and the fish are on the feed (in those daydreams, anyway). Our lists include familiar waters (perhaps because there’s a certain comfort in that familiarity, but also because the fishing can be terrific) mixed with plenty of exotic locations we may never get to. But we can dream, can’t we?
- By: Greg Thomas
- and Jim Butler
- Photography by: Cathy Beck
- , Greg Thomas
- , Mark Lance
- , Jim Harris
- , Barry Beck
- , Jeff Edvalds
- and Jim Butler
Once you’ve booked that trip of a lifetime, you almost immediately bump into the twin set of questions: “What do I take?” and, “What’s the best thing to take it in?”
Trips rarely get ruined by any absence of gear; don’t worry about that, unless you have size 14 feet and forget your size 14 wading boots. If that happens your anatomical predisposition may prove troublesome; for most of us, lodges carry anything you may have left at home, within the range of averages for fitting and gear. Size 14 boots don’t fit the average.
When i was growing up in southern Idaho, private property meant, “Close the gates behind you and don’t spook the cows.” The rare No Trespassing sign just meant a grouchy old farmer didn’t like his neighbors. But by simply asking permission we were able to hunt pheasants in the stubble-fields and fish for rainbows and cutthroat in the moss-filled spring creeks. In exchange, we occasionally dropped off a couple of fish or a brace of mallards for our hosts.
- Photography by: Barry Beck
- , Cathy Beck
- , Will Rice
- and Greg Thomas
FACT: Fly fishers love travel. Unfortunate fact: Travel is a lot more difficult than it was 10 years ago, thanks mostly to international terrorism. In fact, I’ll never forget the time I watched a gentleman heading out on a cast-and-blast trip trying to negotiate security at Miami International Airport. He had forgotten that he had recently worn his travel vest while doing some upland shooting. Thanks to a little gunpowder residue in his pockets, he was locked inside MIA’s shiny new “puffer” bomb-sniffing device, while red lights flashed and security sprinted into the area (to the great amusement of his fellow anglers).
As businesses, fishing lodges are rarely big money makers, and there’s a surprising mortality rate. The editor of a sporting magazine once told me it’s not all that unusual for him to assign a destination story on a lodge, only to have the place close before the article runs. Think about it: You’re operating what amounts to a hotel, a restaurant, a guide service, a travel agency, a small airline, a modest navy and sometime medical evacuation unit, and you have to make your nut in a season that can be as short as eight or 10 weeks.
- Illustrations by: Bob White
It’s a waste of money to hire a guide to take you fishing. Say what? I’ll put it another way. If your reason for hiring a guide is simply to catch a lot of fish, you’ll be happy with the result most of the time. But if that’s your only goal, you’re squandering a superb opportunity to significantly improve your fly-fishing skills.
- Photography by: Barry Beck
- and Cathy Beck
Nanci Morris Lyons is one of the best guides in southwest Alaska, so my wife Debra just grinned and nodded when Nanci told her, “No husband should ever try to teach his wife how to drive a car, pilot a plane or use a fly rod. Come on out to Bristol Bay and I’ll show you how to cast a fly without developing all of Rice’s bad habits.”
- Photography by: Will Rice
Whether flying domestic and dealing with TSA, or abroad dealing with whomever you encounter, follow the rules, and try to fit a common profile. The last place you want to land is in the mini plywood cubicle.
Not every family fishing vacation has to involve all the members of your clan. Heck, not even everyone who joins the fun has to be a blood relation; just ask Oprah Winfrey, who this past fall went fly-fishing with her best friend, Gayle King, during their girls’ trip to Yosemite National Park. We all know that women pick up the rhythm and feel of fly-fishing quite quickly, so it stands to reason that one of the fast-growing types of angling vacations are for women only.
- Photography by: Dusan Smetana
There are two primary considerations for any fly-tying vise: It must hold the hook snugly, and it must allow you to tie a fly easily, i.e., the vise can’t get in the way. The only practical reason to buy a travel vise is that it is smaller—lighter and more compact—than your primary vise, while maintaining an acceptable level of function. It’s that simple.
- Photography by: Aaron Goodis
Fly-fishing, travel and photography go together like ABC. Documenting our adventures afield can be a very satisfying part of our experience, whether we’re traveling far away or just down the road. But too often anglers spend a small fortune on equipment, travel and perhaps a camera as well, and after returning home they are disappointed in their pictures.
- Photography by: Val Atkinson