River Rules

How to avoid unforced errors when fishing
Photo: Todd Tanner

Doug and I were visiting the Elk River in British Columbia last weekend when a fellow in a drift boat opted to ignore the open channel on river right and float down the small side channel I was fishing. I was a little bummed — the oarsman could see me standing mid-channel from quite a ways away — but I assumed that he’d have the angler in the bow stop casting when they got close, and that they would slip behind me and scoot downstream a fair distance before they started up again.


Fly out Alaska

Chasing trophy trout and more in the Bristol Bay wilderness
A Bristol Bay rainbow trout (photo: Earl Harper).

In the battle to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay from the horrors of a vast, open-pit mining operation which would have put the world’s largest sockeye salmon run in peril, I was, at best, one of the good soldiers who loaded the cannons.

The 10 Commandments

For beginner trout anglers
Casting lessons at The School of Trout (photo: Todd Tanner).

Most new fly fishers have a hard time telling good advice from poor. Sadly, the internet is full of questionable guidance from people who portray themselves as experts yet lack the requisite skills and knowledge. If you only fish a few times per year, or if you’re relatively new to the sport, it’s not always easy to know who to trust. With that in mind, I’d like to share ten tips that our instructors at the School of Trout offer on a regular basis.

Fish refused your fly? Hurry up and wait.

Resist the urge to quickly recast to feeding fish
Photo: Chad Shmukler

The rock face across the river stood sentry over what, from my limited Atlantic salmon experience, looked like the perfect stretch of fishy water. The river, fresh from a manic tumble over a frothy cascade, fell into an emerald green pool that hugged the basalt wall like a kindergartner clinging to his mother on the first day of school.

Fishing the popper-dropper rig

You've heard of the hopper-dropper, but what about something with a bit more gusto?
Photo: Chris Hunt

We’ve all heard of the “hopper-dropper,” the ubiquitous, two-fly method for summer trout all over the world. But what about the “popper-dropper” for bass, panfish and other warmwater fish? Well, it’s a thing, and I can attest to its effectiveness.

A couple of years ago, while fishing in the Big Thicket National Preserve in southeast Texas, I was introduced to the method, and I’ve used it a few times since in places like north Florida and even in eastern Idaho, where we have something of an unknown, but robust, population of smallmouths in the Snake River.