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Fantasy Football is the New Golf

Almost a decade ago, I put my golf clubs down for good. I've never looked back. For many years prior, though, my free time was shared between fly fishing and golf. This split was never even. Considerably more of my time away from work and family went to fishing. But still, a couple evenings and weekend days each month were stolen by golf.

Fantasy Football Draft Board

I took lessons. Went to the driving range. Sat with friends over a beer talking about swing issues and improving my putting. And then I'd hit the links, soak up the sun and fresh air, often making it through three, four or even five holes before the afternoon descended into a profanity-laden, club-throwing horror show.

The reality, which I eventually stepped back to perceive, was that golf made me miserable. It wasn't that golf was an inherently bad sport, it was that I wanted to enjoy golf more than I actually did. The occasional, slowly-climbing long drives straight down the fairway, those 80-yard wedge chips that land softly on the green, the graceful exits from nasty bunkers -- you know, the shots that everyone says are "all it takes to keep you coming back" -- just didn't do all that much for me.

More Conclusive Proof that Fracking Damages Water Supplies

The natural gas industry has long held that extracting natural gas poses no threat to surface water and groundwater, including private water supplies, while opponents of Pennsylvania's record-breaking natural gas extraction industry have long refuted these claims as false. Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released to the public a list of 248 documented cases where the state found that drilling and other activities related to hydraulic fracturing had damaged water supplies, offering further concrete proof of the false nature of the industry's claims.

A native brook trout stream in Pennsylvania's natural gas country.
A native brook trout stream in Pennsylvania's natural gas country.

The Pennsylvania DEP has been widely criticized for a lack of transparency and a failure to report to the public claims and findings of water supply contamination resulting from activities of the natural gas industry. While the recent release of these documents has generally been regarded as a step in the right direction, conservation and environmental groups have called the DEP's latest action insufficient, and it is easy to see why.

Broken Dial

It's small fly time on northeast tailwaters. On the Farmington River folks are fishing the trico hatch. A well tied imitation makes a #20 fly seem like a battleship and 6x look like an anchor chain. I like a brown thread body with a tuft of dun colored CDC and a #24 hook. It's one of the rare times I fish 7x. I'd fish 8x if I had any.

Small mayfly
Photo: Julien Pouille

One of the nice things about tailwater hatches is that, despite all the variables that affect any natural process, they're pretty reliable. The hatches line up to fill the angling year. The fish seem as attuned as the anglers and I've spent many evenings fishing a single pattern. Once you're dialed in, you're set. Mostly.

Freestones, untethered to regular, temperate flows, can throw you more curves. Sure, they have the epic hatches that arrive like clockwork every year -- Hendricksons, March Browns, Alders, Cahills, White Flies, Isos -- but mixed in between and among are all manner of chaos. You can always count on some sort of caddis buzzing about, any number of small stones, midges, and BWOs. And, of course, the main events always overlap. It can make tying something on the tippet a total crapshoot.

RIO's Fly Line Selector App

As fishermen, we don't spend a lot of time talking about apps. There are, however, quite a bevy of apps out there made specifically for anglers. Unfortunately, most of them aren't particularly useful. But there are a select few that can be assets whether you're on the water, in the field, or on your couch planning next outing. RIO has recently released a fly line selector app which strives to demystify the process of selecting a fly line for a given rod or application, and it seems destined to join that smaller crowd of fishing apps -- the useful ones.

RIO Fly Line Selector App

Let's face it, while not always the case, choosing a fly line can be perplexing. And, every time it seems like the industry is starting to simplify choices on the fly line front, things take a turn for the more complicated. The process can be especially troublesome for those that don't spend their time poring over product SKUs and keeping tabs on each fly line company's new releases and R&D efforts -- in other words: most fly fishers.

Motorcycle Mike: Who Are the Real Experts?

Twenty years ago, I was a fly fishing guide on the Henry’s Fork, which, as most of you know, is one of the world’s most famous trout streams. Anglers from all over the globe visited Last Chance, Idaho in the hope of catching a few of those spectacular Henry’s Fork rainbows, and a fair number of those anglers hired guides to increase their odds of success..

Sunset at The Ranch on the Henry's Fork (photo: Todd Tanner).
Sunset at The Ranch on the Henry's Fork (photo: Todd Tanner).

Back in 1992, a fellow by the name of Motorcycle Mike was a fixture in Last Chance. If you believed his stories, Mike had at various times been a heart surgeon, a tarpon guide in the Florida Keys, and a colonel in the military. Regardless, Mike spent the spring and summer of ‘92 sweeping the floor in the A-Bar and doing odd jobs for local businesses and homeowners. During our occasional conversations it became painfully clear that Mike knew almost nothing about trout fishing on the Henry’s Fork.

Now none of this would have mattered if Mike didn’t make a habit of riding his little motorcycle to the river, finding a prominent position on the bank, and dispensing his angling wisdom to every drift boat that floated past.