Todd Tanner's blog

Looking ahead

Before society can move forward, we need to develop a shared vision for the future
Photo: Swithun Crowe / cc2.0.

When I was a young boy, seemingly immune to my mother’s constant focus on all things neat and proper, I spent my summers mucking around in the swamp behind our house. As swamps go, ours was neither large nor particularly dangerous, boasting not one single crocodile, alligator, poisonous snake or patch of quicksand. To be absolutely candid it was a small swamp, and its most perilous (if you could call them that) denizens were snapping turtles and water snakes, either of which might decide to give you a nip if you happened to stick a finger or toe in the wrong place.

The view from the oars

It's always the poor guy rowing the boat
Photo: Chad Shmukler

My friend Steve Mate once told me that it was bound to happen, and he was right. I was guiding on the Henry's Fork, floating two gentleman from Texas down the Box Canyon, when the fellow in the bow turned toward me.

Which anglers have influenced your fly fishing?

Todd Tanner shares his "dream team"
Photo: Matt Shaw

When I first started fly fishing back in the ‘80s, I used to drive forty five minutes to a lonesome stretch of river, leave the pavement behind for a bumpy dirt road that twisted through the maples and oaks of rural New England, park, and then hike a half mile or more down an overgrown trail through the briars and brambles that paralleled the river’s edge.

Burning down the house

It's on fire, better grab a bucket
Photo: U.S. DOI

Back when I was working as a fly fishing guide in Montana and Idaho, I spent every spare moment fishing. While that may seem like an odd choice to some folks, it made perfect sense to me. Guiding and fishing are two very different things, and while I enjoyed my guiding, I’ve always loved my fishing more.

We Take Our Stand: The path of water

40 Montana outdoor writers take a stand for public lands
Montana's Swan Range (photo: Todd Tanner).

Every day, we—my wife, my son and I—are infused with the blessings of public lands. And not in some vague, generalized, ambivalent sense; not in the way that some folks are inspired by the presence of public lands as a remote bastion of wilderness or as a metaphor for freedom. When my family turns on the tap, water that falls as rain or snow on the Swan Range a mile or so to our east - water that works its way down through the cracks and crevices of those sheer, gorgeous, publicly-owned mountains - comes gushing out from our faucet and slakes our thirst.

The anchor

The world continues to go to hell in a hand-basket. Anyone want to go fishing?
Photo: Mike Sepelak

I went fishing for a couple days last week. Not that my time on the water is news, or a big deal, but it was awfully important from a mental health perspective. We all need to take the occasional day off, and fishing—or in this particular case, rowing a couple of other anglers down the river for the better part of two days—was exactly the kind of therapy I needed.

Who's afraid of grizzly bears?

These days, it's not the grizzlies outside that keep me up at night
Photo: Earl Harper / Harper Studios

I was in the living room and my wife was in the kitchen when Riley started barking out in the yard. It wasn’t your standard “deer” bark, either, so when I heard Molly yell, “Riley, no!!!” I jumped up and ran for the door. The local coyotes were hanging around our place and I was worried that our retriever was in trouble with the wild dogs.

By the time I made it outside the barking had stopped, and Molly and Riley were standing near the massive cottonwood that shades the northwest corner of our home.

“Coyotes?” I asked.

“Grizzly bear. A big one.”

Musky Madness: Big flies, big fish and big smiles

Join the musky hunters in Wisconsin this September
Photo: Mike Dvorak

Legendary guide and respected artist Bob White sure knows how to throw a great party. Bob has learned that if he brings fly fishermen together at the right time and in the right place, they can catch huge muskies on fly rods. With that in mind, he’s arranged for some of the world’s best musky guides to rendezvous in northern Wisconsin on September 22, 23 & 24, where they’ll float 10 lucky anglers down the Chippewa and Flambeau rivers in search of massive water wolves.

Seeking absolution

The catch and release debate, inside and out
The release of a wild rainbow from the Smoky Mountains (photo: Rueben Browning).

There’s a tension at the heart of fly fishing, a baffling, bulbous, gordian knot that we can’t untie with logic or reason or emotion. Yet most of us — in fact, the vast majority of us — are not even aware of the issue.

Heat

In all things, we need balance
Photo: Todd Tanner

I drove over to the West Fork late this afternoon. Molly was gone for the day, off to Idaho with her friend Elizabeth, and I’d been holed up in the house with the doors and windows shut to keep the heat - low nineties in the shade, a hundred and two outside in the direct sun - at bay.

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