The deadliest wildfire in American history

The Peshtigo Fire, which burned the same night as the infamous Chicago Fire, is unknown to most
The Peshtigo Fire showing people seeking refuge in the Peshtigo River, 1871. taken from Harper's Weekly, 1871 Page 1037 (Public domain).

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Peshtigo Fire, the deadliest wildfire in American history and an event that continues to exert a compelling grip on my imagination. There are any number of reasons for this but the one I keep coming back to is that the landscape that was burned—the watersheds of the Peshtigo and Menominee rivers, essentially—has been at the center of my pursuits with fly rods, bird dogs, and shotguns for close to 40 years.

Review: Snowbee Classic fly rod

Snowbee's entry-level rod is a versatile, impressive performer
Photo: Johnny Carrol Sain

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from the Snowbee Classic 7-foot, 3/4 weight—a rod made by a company I’d never heard of, that can’t decide which line it wants to toss, and is the most affordable offering in Snowbee’s lineup. Nevertheless, I made plans to baptize it in Appalachian creeks.

Bugging summer smallmouth

Contrary to conventional wisdom, late summer can offer explosive topwater smallmouth action
Photo: Tim Tim Landwehr / Tight Lines Fly Shop

I could have marked the rock hump with GPS, or even a simple bleach-bottle buoy. But this was a family vacation to the Wisconsin Northwoods, not a fishing trip, and my kit was bare-bones: an 8-weight rod, a box of bugs, a couple spools of leader material. When I spotted the pair of outsized smallmouth—I was poking around under a high midday sun in the aluminum rowboat that came with our cottage—I had to go Old School to be sure I’d find my way back when the lake glassed off that evening.

How to drink your way through the fishing day: Big Thicket National Preserve

Your guide to food, drink, and local culture in East Texas
Photo: Chris Hunt

It’s not too late as you listen to the endless parade of locals who’ve come out on a Saturday night in Beaumont, Texas, to sing karaoke at the LogOn Cafe and Pub, but 5 o’clock comes early.

Possum peckers

You probably didn't know that male opossums have forked genitalia
Photo: Johnny Carrol Sain

You’ve likely heard of Ockham’s (or Occam’s if you prefer Latin) Razor, a problem-solving proverb bandied about by many pseudo-philosophers as the principle that says the simplest answer is usually the correct answer.