Fish are wildlife too

Fish are vital parts of a complicated machine we don’t begin to understand even as we tinker with it
An advertisement for 'golden rainbow' fishing in Rhode Island (photo: NFS).

For most Americans fish don’t count as wildlife. They’re slimy, cold, featherless, furless, silent and, save for anglers, generally unseen. In my last Hatch Magazine article, “A Plague on All Your Trout,” I quoted Wilderness Watch, which passionately defends icons of wilderness like grizzlies and wolves but dismisses icons of wilderness like Gila trout. I don’t mean to pick on this group because it does some good in its own way. But its condemnation of Gila trout recovery, mandated by the Endangered Species Act, provides the best example I’ve seen of how much of the public and environmental community perceive fish: “It is both sad and ironic that it was Aldo Leopold who convinced the Forest Service to protect the Gila [National Forest] as our nation's first wilderness in the 1930s — now, it is in danger of being converted to a fish farm for recreationists.”

I wasn’t lusting for 7-inch trout in 1994 when I flew from Boston to Albuquerque, trekked into the Gila Wilderness and waded up Black Canyon Creek. This recreationist didn’t even tote a rod.

The Biden administration's modest $38 million allocation for fish passage fails to provide any funding for the critical removal of the steelhead- and salmon-killing lower Snake River dams (photo: Ben Herndon / cc2.0).

The Biden administration plans to release $38 million in fiscal year 2022 to help fund 40 “shovel-ready” fish passage projects in 23 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Department of Interior announced this month. And, over the next five years, using money from the recently passed infrastructure legislation, Interior will push about $200 million toward fish-passage projects through the National Fish Passage Program.

Gearing up for spring creek fishing

Tips for the best rods, reels, lines, leaders and more for delicate spring creek fishing
An Oregon spring creek (photo: Todd Tanner).

As you may have heard, Bozeman, Montana is within shouting distance of some of the West’s finest trout streams. You’re no doubt familiar with the Yellowstone, the Gallatin, the Madison and the Missouri. Not only are they incredible fisheries, but they’re also part of America’s angling lore. Fly fishers from all over the U.S. — indeed, from all over the world — travel to Bozeman with the hope of tempting wild trout on Montana’s storied waters.

How to buy great used fly rods

Tips for striking it rich in the used fly rod market
Photo: Spencer Durrant

I’ve been reviewing fly rods for about a decade. From the latest and greatest flagship rods to sticks from boutique builders, I’ve had the chance to fish more rods than I remember. The only real problem with fishing so many rods is that you eventually start wanting most of them, and that gets expensive in a hurry. The used fly rod market is much easier on the pocketbook, making it possible to fill out a quiver of rods and still have gas money left over.