Fly fishing, as I have come to know it, is a sport defined by local flavor and knowledge; its micro-cultures and idiosyncrasies strongly tied to elements of place. The fly...
I tie flies at my dining room table. Or with my vice precariously balanced on the plastic storage shelves in my basement, a section of which houses the bulky cardboard box where my vice—and a respectable smattering of tying supplies—lives for around 363 days of each year. Among my many shameful inadequacies as an angler, predominant above all is my lack of dedication to tying.
Back in 2014, we celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday as so many outlets do, by talking about what we should be thankful for. Generally, doing so is little more than an opportunity to state the obvious or share trite sentiments that are more an exercise of convention and repetition than an expression of gratitude based on thoughtful reflection. But we did our best not to mail it in and, in the process, shined a light on a few things we thought all anglers should take the time to acknowledge.
It's hard to imagine anyone arguing that fly fishers are highly visual individuals. There's so much about our sport that's driven by appreciation for the beauty of the pursuit, whether that be the aesthetics of the landscapes in which we chase our quarry, the lashed fur and feather creations we tempt them with or the artfully crafted tools with which we ply the water. Fly fishing is a sport full of rich and diverse imagery.
Recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, native tribal members, lovers of wild places and defenders of common sense worldwide breathed a massive sigh of relief when, in 2014, the Obama administration finally delivered what so many had spent years tirelessly working for: a Clean Water Act 404(c) veto that would prevent the use of certain Bristol Bay watersheds for use as disposal sites for dredge or fill material. Or, in other words, it would block construction of Pebble Mine.
If you're not familiar with the work of RC Cone, you probably should be. Cone is best known in the fishing world for his films Tributaries and Breathe, but it is his 2016 film The Accord—which told the story of Heiðar Logi Elíasson, an Icelandic surfer that has spent his life chasing waves in the burly, wind-beaten North Atlantic—that has won Cone the most acclaim, as an official selection at both the Banff Film Festival and Telluride Mountainfilm. Cone has a knack for angles and cinematography and it shows through in his work.
￼It’s easy to spot serious anglers. They fish hard, they throw tight loops, and they stay out late. Over the years we’ve added one more criteria to the list. To be a truly hardcore angler, you have to stand up and fight for your fishing. That means taking action on the biggest threat we face: climate change.
For over twenty years, American Rivers has produced their annual list of the most endangered rivers in our country. The list is the product of a partnership between American Rivers and grassroots river conservationists who work to identify rivers with high natural and cultural value that face significant threats, especially those which have major decisions pending where public input has the ability to help decide the river's fate.
If you're like me, the idea of large scale gold mines in Paradise Valley—the headwaters of the famed Yellowstone River—sounds like a terrible plan. In fact, it probably sounds that way even if you're not like me. It seems almost everyone agrees, from high-end real estate developers and resort owners to dirtbag fishermen and everyday bikers, hikers and other recreationists. Everyone seems to get it: putting large scale mines at the headwaters of the Yellowstone River is a colossally dumb idea. But mining companies have a way of getting what they want.
I get it. How you fish is not how I fish. And that's swell. Really, it is. I like to fish with a fly rod. You don't? That's fine. I prefer to chase wild fish instead of stocked fish but if you don't care you won't hear any complaints from me. I like to hike away from the parking lots and trailheads and find solitude on the river, but maybe you prefer cajoling with your buddies right by the put in with a cooler of beer. Sometimes, I do too. However you like to fish, by and large, that's how you should fish.
Anglers are obsessed with water. Freshwater, saltwater, moving water, still water; it matters not. We peer from car windows as we speed across bridges, staring down in wonder at even the most unimpressive of trickles. We yearn not only to see water, but to know and explore it, to discover what quarry swims in it. We’re compelled to protect and preserve it, to stand in the way of those that would harm or endanger it. And now more than perhaps any time in a generation, the waters of our United States, which so often preoccupy our minds, face a grave and serious threat.