Todd Tanner's blog

A Montana fishing story

There are days when it feels like I’m Charlie Brown and the river is Lucy, just begging me to kick the football
Photo: Todd Tanner

There’s a river I fish on a fairly regular basis that’s less than a 10 minute drive from my front door.

While it’s relatively large — at least for a Montana trout stream — it runs warmer than our other local waters because it flows into, and then out of, a natural, un-dammed lake. Except for the cooling influence of the occasion spring or seep, the river water below the outflow is approximately the same temperature as the lake’s sun-baked surface — which means things warm up quickly in the spring and stay that way into October.

The winds of change

The new infrastructure bill could help prevent the worst climate impacts
Photo: Todd Tanner

Last week was wild. The wind screamed down from the mountains with gusts pushing 50 miles per hour and the massive spruce tree less than ten feet from our back door bent first with grace, and then, as the storm’s fury increased, with a sudden and jarring violence.

The long green limbs acted like a sail in the wind, putting immense pressure on the shallow root system, and we watched the ground on the tree’s windward side bulge up three or four inches with each house-shaking gust.

Growing up on a pond

Things are different when you grow up on a pond
Photo: Clemens v. Vogelsang / cc2.0

Things are different when you grow up on a pond. The sounds of water lapping at the shore, and the melody of the birds, and the faint whisper of a breeze are always there, but they’re invisible—inaudible—residing just far enough from your conscious mind that they’re like the air you breath; vital, but forgotten and unnoticed in the moment.

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:

Countdown

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.

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