The Missouri River in winter (photo: Todd Tanner).
I have a cautionary tale I’d like to share. Forgive me for not painting a more eloquent picture, but everything is still a bit too real, and raw, to gussy it up with pretty writing.

Yesterday was January 2. It was also very nearly the last day of my life.

I drove down to the Missouri River on New Years Day - Wednesday, the 1st - hoping to take advantage of the 40 degree weather and test a bunch of gear for our annual Sporting Classic fly fishing equipment review. I spent most of Wednesday afternoon on the river, and despite the cold water temps - it was in the 33 to 34 degree range - I had solid fishing and the opportunity to check out a number of new rods, reels, waders, jackets, packs, etc.

For those of you who don’t know the Missouri, it’s a big, wide, open river near the tiny Montana towns of Wolf Creek and Craig. It deserves respect - as does any big river - but it’s not the kind of water that typically gets people in trouble. Yesterday was a little different.

The most read stories of 2017

A look back at year marked by controversy and debate
Photo: Gage Skidmore / cc2.0
It is likely a gross understatement to say that 2017 was a transformative year for the American political landscape. The American electorate is divided and political discourse more rancorous and contentious than perhaps ever before. And with the new administration taking a decidedly different approach to managing the health of our air, water and landscapes, the outdoor community is facing an existential crisis—many have decided to take an increasingly activist stance in seeking to defend against threats to our outdoor and sporting heritages.

How to drink your way through the fishing day: Northwest Washington

Your guide to the best beers, wines and spirits on the steelhead, salmon and trout waters of the Pacific Northwest
Photo: Earl Harper / Harper Studios
As a one-time beer journalist and bar owner, current nano brewery partner, and overall miscreant, it’s probably surprising that I actually have any time to fish. However, since days that include alcohol before sundown have largely been deleted from my databanks, there turns out to be large swaths of non-drinking time to fill. At the end of any good day, though, I’m reminded of what my Sensei said when told that the other Senseis decided that perhaps they should stop drinking beer at the dojo, which was also a Buddhist temple. To this he replied, “I’m 83 years old.

Stop, don't do it

Avoiding problems makes for better fishing and happier anglers
Photo: Todd Tanner
If you hang around enough fly fishing guides, you’ll hear every one of these lines on a regular basis:

“That guy can’t fish.”

“That guy can’t cast.”

“That guy can’t mend.”

And then there’s my favorite: “Wow, that guy just sucks.”

Do you want to be that guy? No? Then pay attention to the advice below and stop trying to convince other anglers that you have absolutely no clue what you’re doing. How? That’s easy. Don’t do it.

Scenes like this are common on beaches throughout Asia, the Caribbean, the Arctic and across the world (photo: Vaidehi Shah).
Trash, mostly plastic, in the oceans is a serious problem and visible reminder of our careless attitude toward the planet. In recent years, the fly-fishing industry has dedicated continued energy to address this problem. Through the introduction of cardboard fly boxes, the American Fly Fishing Trade Association has worked to get plastic out of the waste stream.