Latest Blog Posts

Hubris: The Certainty of the Mining Industry

There's a tired old joke about discerning lying politicians by observing the mobility of their lips and there is a close parallel to mines and their assertions about the hazards of their operations.

Before a mine can begin operation in the US, owners must submit Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) to the federal government. The percentage of mines that predict low impacts to water quality in their EISs is 100%, according to a 2008 report by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. In actuality, the number that actually pollute ground and surface waters is summed up in the report by a simple phrase: "the majority".

Quesnel Lake
Quesnel Lake, pictured above, and Polley lake were flooded with over a billion gallons of toxic effluent when the Mount Polley tailings pond dam burst on August 4th (photo: Larry Griffiths).

While one could attribute evil intent to the assertions of safety made by mine owners, I think it more likely to be driven by hubris buoyed by a healthy dose of greed. Though, given more thought, that may be the definition of evil. Whatever the case, I'm sure there are a lot of folks who actually believe what they're doing is right despite startling evidence to the contrary.

The Helios 2 One Piece: 'Because We Wanted To'

Most anglers would prefer to imagine the company that builds the fly rods they buy as one run by fishing nerds, where days are spent talking technique, trading fish tales and theorizing about how to improve the tools they build for fishermen instead of analyzing market surveys and strategizing how to improve their bottom line. Sure, we all know that these companies are in the business of fishing, but we like to imagine that fishing comes first and business second, even when we know this most likely isn't so.

The all new one-piece Orvis Helios 2.
The all new one-piece Orvis Helios 2.

At this year's IFTD show in Orlando, Orvis introduced a new addition to its Helios 2 rod lineup, the Orvis Helios 2 one piece. As I sat and discussed the rod with Orvis' Tom Rosenbauer, it was clear that Tom and the other folks at Orvis were excited about the new addition, and seemingly with good reason. According to Tom, after many months of testing in the Florida Keys with some of the best flats guides in the US, Orvis had heard overwhelmingly positive feedback on the one piece version of the award-winning Helios 2.

America's Heralded Fly Fishing States are Also the 'Best Places to Live'

We spend a lot of time talking about the value of wild places. We talk about how they inspire reverence and enrich our lives. In turn, we beat the drums of conservation and preservation, given the how much these places matter to us. As fishermen, we're most protective of the wild places where we go to chase fish. But, the qualities these places possess that inspire awe in the mind of the fishermen likewise do so in the hiker, the mountain biker, the rancher, the farmer and so on. Wild places don't only make for better fishing, they make for better living. So, it should come as no surprise to learn that the people that live amongst these wild places -- and their spectacular fishing -- are also the happiest with where they live.

Alaskan Rainbow Trout (photo: Chad Shmukler).
Photo: Chad Shmukler.

Chances are, should you ask any fly fisherman in the country which states offer the best fishing, that places like Alaska, Montana and Wyoming will roll off their tongue without hesitation. As it turns out, these same states also have the country's happiest residents, according to a recent Gallup poll. The poll asked residents of different states whether their state was "the best or one of the best places to live." Residents of Montana and Alaska topped the list, with over three out of four residents (77 percent) answering yes. Residents of Utah and Wyoming weren't far behind, with 70 and 69 percent responding in favor, respectively.

The Littering Fisherman

If you have never seen litter along the banks of the streams and rivers you fish, you are in a very small and select minority. Some streams and rivers are inundated with litter while others are relatively refuse-free, except for the occasional piece of human detritus here and there. Wherever garbage is found along our waters, it not only degrades and damages the resource, it taints the experience we traveled there to cultivate.

Rainier Can in River
This delicious can of Rainier went back out the same way it came in.

Certainly not all stream side trash is from fishemen. But, it seems likely that much of it is, especially that which you find as you stray from the areas where waterways intersect with roads. In these places where garbage found along the water is considerably unlikely to have been tossed from a car window, the suspect sources are those who recreate along its banks. Sure, there are hikers, kids chasing frogs and other fun seekers but mostly there are fishermen. Sometimes, there's little to dispute. Litter piles where discarded beer cans and cigarette butts co-mingle with Powerbait containers and empty bags of Water Gremlin split shot leave little to the imagination regarding their origin.

All of this leaves me wondering: what relationship does the littering fisherman have with his or her stream?

Am I the Only One Who Wants Wet Wading Boots?

Wading boots, as far as they've come over the years, are not hiking boots. Even if you pony up hundreds of dollars for some of the finest models on the market, you're still getting a dumbed down version of a hiking boot. They're a compromise created by the dual requirements of needing a wading boot to do the things a good hiking boot does, but also be suitable for sticking neoprene wader booties into and being submerged under water most of the time.

Simms Wet Wading Boots
These don't exist anymore, and they had felt bottoms when they did.

Quality hiking boots do many things: they feature good latitudinal and longitudinal stability, provide traction on varying terrain, offer good arch support, fit comfortably and so on. All of these aspects combine to allow the wearer to safely hike long hours, over long distances, in relative comfort. Quality wading boots strive to do all of these things as well, but the aforementioned requirement of also allowing the wearer to jam a foot wrapped in a bulky, neoprene sack comes along and essentially ruins the effort.

I don't design boots for a living, nor do I claim to really know anything about it, but the equation seems relatively simple: if a boot needs to fit a wadered foot, aspects of that boots design that make it fit well -- like a properly-sized toe box, well-sculpted mid-sole, etc -- go out the window. Wader booties are bulky and vary widely in size and density. A boot that fits a wadered foot doesn't fit the foot at all, it fits a swollen, disfigured version of a foot.