Teaching trout

Tips on being an effective instructor on the water
Photo: Chad Shmukler

Once we’ve been fly fishing for a while, most of us find ourselves in a position where we know a fair amount about angling. We might not all be experts, but we’re still pretty comfortable with the subject. We talk about it on a regular basis, we read articles and watch videos and share opinions with our friends and fishing partners until one day, pretty much out of the blue, someone actually asks for our help.

What are they biting on? What fly should I use? How did you just make that cast?

Boyd Hill

“OK, old dog. It’s time, and there’s no point in waiting any longer.”
Photo: Todd Tanner

The squalls rolled across the valley floor like wagons hitched to the wind, each one a separate sheet of rain running to the east. Young Wes Turner stood on the porch and listened to raindrops on tin, a thousand little fingers drumming on the roof while the dogs slept at his feet, cool for the first time in weeks. The porch steps were pine, weathered and gray like the clouds, like the rest of the porch, like the house itself, which drank in the dim evening light with the same thirst that the land held for moisture.

As it had for years, the porch roof leaked.

Save big on baggage fees on your next fishing trip

Hiding in plain sight is a policy that can save you hundreds of dollars the next time you fly
3 checked bags + 2 carry-on bags = no fees (photo: Chad Shmukler).

These days, when I travel to fish, I've become accustomed to eating huge airline baggage fees. In fact, I've simply been trained into factoring $150-$300 extra in baggage fees into my travel budgeting. For anglers like myself and most others with whom I've slogged my way through airports, the usual setup goes something like this: a rod + reel case, a gear bag (boots, waders, flies, lines and other misc gear) and a duffel or suitcase with your clothes and toiletries. Sadly, 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 and 3 is the magic number.

A public lands betrayal

Congress and the Trump administration have thrown sportsmen and women under the bus
Photo: BLM

I once watched three tawny mountain lions glide down a snow-dusted hillside. The closest jumped up on a fallen log perhaps 40 feet away and then, without so much as a sound, leaped off and disappeared into the depths of the forest. Another time, an entire family of otters swam over to investigate my fly casting as I waded the icy currents of a beautiful Montana stream.

Where is my fly?

Knowing where your fly is fishing is half the battle
Photo: Josh Stewart

John looked back and glared at me through his copper lenses. He was frustrated, exasperated and worn out. I’d just told John, for the third time, to drift his fly on the inside of a large midstream boulder. But his cast and the resulting drift were far away from the mark and even further away from any chance of hooking a trout. So I started to speak the sentence again, a little lighter this time, with a little more empathy.

“Just drift your fly on the inside of . . .”

John interrupted. He shook his head in anger and leaned in toward me.