Todd Tanner's blog

Can anglers continue to ignore climate change?

Unless we address climate change, the places we fish will eventually become unrecognizable
Yosemite National Park under a smoke filled haze (photo: Rennett Stowe / cc2.0).

If you ask a dozen fly fishers to describe the major threats to our angling, you’ll find a fair amount of agreement. You’ll hear their concerns about public lands, and habitat loss, and pollution, and over-fishing, and poor management practices, and invasive species. You may even have an angler mention our kids’ addiction to video games. There’s a fair amount of consensus regarding all those issues across the outdoor community.

Back on the sticks

Maybe I was wrong to turn my back on drift boats all those years ago
Photo: Chad Shmukler

I have an uneasy relationship with boats.

There you go. Now it’s out in the open.

I suspect, though, that most folks who share my views about watercraft come to their ambivalence more honestly. Maybe they’re afraid of water. Perhaps they’re uneasy in a vessel that can tip over in a high wind, or be swamped by waves, or that will take on water and sink if the boat’s structural integrity is breached, or if its weight limit is exceeded, or if there’s a serious operator error.

fish envy | fiSH ˈenvē

noun (pl. fish envies): a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s fish
A saltwater flat (photo: Chad Shmukler).

I’m not usually afflicted with envy or jealousy, at least not when it comes to angling. I guess I’ve caught enough fish over the years that I root for other folks to be successful regardless of whether I’m sticking a few myself.

Steve vs. Steve: Montana hunters and anglers weigh in on the Daines vs. Bullock Senate race

Both candidates have presented themselves as a friend to sportsmen and women, but which really is?
Montana Governor Steve Bullock talks to voters at a campaign event (photo: Matt Johnson / cc2.0).

Montana is known more for its trout fishing than for its politics, but this year’s contest between Steve Daines and Steve Bullock could potentially tip the balance in the U.S. Senate. I reached out to several respected Montana anglers for their views on the Daines/Bullock race. Here’s how they responded.

From world-renowned angler, author and conservationist Craig Mathews:

Stay dry

Fishing on top during uncertain times
Photo: Chris Daniel

I’ll turn 60 later this summer and I’ve noticed a truth that seems to reveal itself over the course of a lifetime. It’s called “change.”

As the years have passed by, I’ve seen rivers reshape their banks, saplings turn into trees, and new houses spring up where I’ve never seen houses before. At the same time, my friends and family have grown older, my son has shot up like a weed, human technology has advanced, and my daily activities and routines have evolved. It’s just the way things are. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once pointed out, “the only constant in life is change.”

It's time for an anti-grizzly stimulus bill

Congress needs to get its act together
Photo: Frank Vassen / cc2.0

Some years ago, during a trip to a wilderness fishing lodge, three friends and I were attacked by a grizzly bear. Believe it or not, I actually ended up running away from the bear in a pair of LL Bean slippers. While we all survived, it was way, way too close for comfort and I don’t think I’ll ever forget my reaction when I looked back over my shoulder and saw that massive grizzly racing after me. I was seconds away from being dragged down, mauled and killed, and all I could think of was the soon-to-be inscription on my tombstone:


How to prepare for post-pandemic fishing
Photo: Todd Tanner

You love to fly fish. Which means that life is hard right now. And that’s especially true if you live someplace where you can’t get out on the water, or if you’re facing challenges you’ve never had to address in the past. So what can you do while you’re trying to stay safe and healthy? Here are a dozen suggestions that will help you get yourself ready for the all-clear signal, whether that happens in a week, a month or a year.

Fly fishing through a pandemic

In times of turmoil, should we even be talking about fly fishing?
Fly fishing—especially in remote locations like this one—can help us decompress and de-stress during these trying times, not to mention help us soak up much needed Vitamin D-fueling sunlight. But, if you head out, be sure to respect all social distancing measures recommended by local, regional and national authorities (photo: Chad Shmukler).

The world is changing all around us. March Madness was cancelled. The NBA season was suspended. So was the remainder of spring training and the beginning of the Major League Baseball season. Schools are closed. Grocery stores are having a hard time keeping goods on the shelves. (Good luck finding hand sanitizer or toilet paper.) Meanwhile, anything approaching a normal life has disappeared in Europe, where Italy and France are locked down and modern medical facilities are being overwhelmed by the global pandemic.

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.


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