Calling the judging in this year's photo contest difficult would be putting it mildly. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Orvis, Smith Optics, Cheeky Fly Fishing and Scientific Anglers, this year's contest attracted the most entries we've ever received and also some of the best. Poring over it all and choosing favorites was no easy task for the judges. All told, 65 different photos received votes from our dozen judges, almost all of which you'll see showcased here.
"Keep your ladder out in front of you," said Kyle's silhouette as it bobbed in the blackness; rounded edges moving against a sharp inky horizon. I shifted my grip on the aluminum frame and pushed farther out into the cold water, following closely. "If you step off the edge it will keep you from going under." I nodded in the dark, deciding that I was not particularly interested in "going under." I looked to my left, north up the shore and saw a few specs of light and the hint of others pushing out, darker on dark, so faint that they disappeared if you stared at them directly.
The Missouri River is known the world ‘round for its large brown trout, feisty rainbows, and cowboy attitude. This is where the cool kids come to play, fishing under the endless big sky and basking in legendary hatches thick enough to coat vehicles and determined enough to survive the Great Plains wind.
Permit have achieved somewhat of a mythical status in the fishing world. They are said to be wily. Spooky. Selective. Whatever the case, largely considered more rare and elusive than bonefish or tarpon, they are regarded by many to be the crown jewel of the world of saltwater flats fishing. They are also generally thought of as exceedingly difficult to take on a fly.
3:50 AM. We’re stufﬁng gear in the back of the Subaru. It’s routine at this point. This time of year
we swing for steelhead on the Lower Deschutes any free day we get. Always, up early only to
return late. This trip down is no different; routine. Shut the hatch and we’re peeling away from
the curb. 3:55 AM. On the highway by 4:05 AM. A little off the mark, but it’ll be ﬁne. Plenty of
time to eat some pavement, don the headlamps, string the rods, and position ourselves on our
favorite run before ﬁrst light.