The future of fly fishing rests in our hands

The answer is blowin’ in the wind
Sunset on the South Fork of the Snake River in Idaho
Sunset on the South Fork of the Snake River in Idaho (photo: Bob Wick/BLM cc2.0).

Let’s start off with two vital questions. What happened on August 16th, 2022? And will that date go down as the single most important day in the history of fly fishing?


Think back. Did someone land the world record brown trout last August? Invent the perfect fly rod? Design the ideal knot? Create the first unbreakable leader? Publish the ultimate book of fly fishing secrets?

No, it wasn’t any of those things.

Instead, on August 16th of 2022, Joe Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act which, coincidently, had little to do with reducing inflation and a whole lot to do with shifting America away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner forms of energy.

So why should we, as fly fishers, care about the Inflation Reduction Act? Well, it’s actually pretty simple. When we burn fossil fuels to create electricity, or to power our internal combustion engines, we release vast quantities of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. And it turns out that those greenhouse gasses are having a massive negative impact on the natural world.

In other words, when we burn coal, oil or natural gas, we trash our fisheries. All of them. Everywhere. Saltwater and fresh. Which pretty much sucks. If it helps to think of fossil fuels as part of an equation, give this one a shot:

Burning fossil fuels = a hotter planet = chaotic weather = degraded landscapes = trashed fisheries.

That might sound like overblown rhetoric or a classic case of hyperbole. It’s not. There’s a reason why so many of the world’s top scientists are sounding the alarm about anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change. Please forgive the graphic analogy, but we’re pissing in the planetary punch bowl. At some point, things are likely to get so damn toxic that most of our fishing will disappear completely. Nobody — and certainly no serious fly fisher — should want that to happen.

Which brings us back to the poorly-named Inflation Reduction Act, and to question number two.

Will last August 16th go down as the most important day ever for fly fishing?

And the answer, of course, is “it all depends …”

Climate change is an international problem; one that requires substantive international agreement on how to move forward. At best, the Inflation Reduction Act is one very small part of the solution. It points us in the right direction, and creates the foundation necessary for further action, but it doesn’t get us where we need to go. Not even close.

So now we find ourselves standing at the proverbial fork in the road. As the reality of human-caused climate change becomes more widely accepted, and as chaotic weather events grow more frequent and more impactful, we have two basic choices.

We either do more to limit our greenhouse gas emissions, or we don’t.

If we do more both here and abroad, there’s a chance we can pull a rabbit from our hat and salvage a fair portion of our fly fishing for future generations. From where I sit, that’s a goal worth embracing.

If we don’t do more — if we allow anti-science know-nothings, and the fossil fuel industry, and the Dunning-Kruger brigade to destroy any chance at more substantive action, or if we decide that further legislation is a bridge too far and we’ve already done enough — then we will be consigning our fisheries to the grimmest possible fate and our children and grandchildren to a world that we would never, ever want to experience, or inhabit, ourselves.

That’s not really much of a choice, is it?

Our only reasonable option is to demand that our government, our financial titans and our captains of industry do more to limit the use of fossil fuels.

It’s a simple message; a clear message — and we need to shout it to the heavens.

Do more!

So please call your senators and representatives and ask them to do more on climate. Actually, don’t ask. Demand that they do more. Then vote for climate realists at the ballot box, and use the power of the purse to make a difference on a personal level. Petition your electricity provider to move away from fossil fuels and opt for cleaner alternatives like solar, wind and geothermal. Mothball your gas furnace and switch your home to a heat pump. Retire your fossil fuel rig and shift to an electric vehicle.

At the end of the day, we have a simple choice. Either we accept climate science and begin to treat the natural world with a little more respect, or we continue to rely on fossil fuels as we embrace the radical destruction of our fisheries. That shouldn’t be a tough call. It’s time to do more.


Hmm. "Tribal" alright.

Hi Todd,
I agree that Biden's Inflation Reduction Act has little - if anything - to do with inflation!
But I look and the entire climate change issue from a different perspective.
Like many folks, I've seen changes in the environment that I can't explain. But I don't simply say, "this is all due to man and fossil fuels, and we should kill the fossil fuel industry as soon as we can!" (Which is basically what Biden is trying to do by shutting down pipelines, imposing digital currency, and partnering with major banks on personal & corporate ESG scores, all to satisfy climate change initiatives!)
I believe the issue is much more complicated than that! Do I believe we should do more? I believe we should do what we can now - and join with other countries to make sure that CHINA, INDIA & RUSSIA do more!
Todd, I don't think you could disagree that the United States has done perhaps more than any other country to clean up our environment. At least I hope you don't. But the other countries I named have done ZERO, and are just continuing to expand their environmental contamination! China expands its building, industrial, and energy sectors every quarter! They can't be building the hundreds of coal fired energy plants they are building if they have even given one iota of thought to the climate change problems. India is worse! Their electronic salvage industries openly pollute across the country! And the shipyard salvage industries around the Indian Ocean are atrocious! What does the Indian government do about it? Zip! And Russia, I don't even want to get started!
I fully support finding a new alternative to fossil fuels. Could it be hydrogen?...if you can get around its explosiveness in car accidents maybe! Could it be electric? If you can tell me how all the electricity we're going to need in EVER INCREASING quantities (starting 5 years ago) is going to be generated - I'll support it!
BUT THAT'S NOT NOW. California already can't figure out how their current electricity needs are going to be met! And it's pretty obvious universally, that wind & solar power are not able to be the answer we need immediately.
I think we've made great strides by advancing and improving hybrid vehicles. In fact, I'm in the market to buy one now! Total EV's - well, they're great if you're wealthy.... and if you don't need to drive more than a couple hundred miles a day.... and if you don't need to tow something! We've made a good start, but where are all these new total EV's going to get their daily drink of "juice?" I asked my wife, how she would feel if I called her from work every night and told her I'm on my way home, but I'm the third person waiting in line to use a charger!!!?" (I normally drive 90 minutes each way to work - close to 200 miles just for work each day).
And as a trout fisherman, I live for days that I can wade a free flowing limestone stream and kneel on the bottom in my waders, and feel the coolness re-invigorate me! But how am I going to do that if my EV has very limited range... or the streams I want to fish are out of state...and I need to charge my car for 4 hours or more every 250 miles? How much less frequently will I be going fishing?
And how many "everyday Americans" can afford a $40 or $50 thousand dollar electric vehicle? And what are you going to tell every red-blooded American 17 year old when they're not going to be able to drive - because Mom & Dad can't afford to buy them even a cheap EV or hybrid???
Todd, I'm not siding against a cleaner environment...I'm just saying that there are still some major roadblocks that need to be overcome right now.
What Biden has done...and what the new green deal folks want not practical now. Hell, it's not even logical!
So, let me ask it fair to the American working populace that they should now bear the brunt of impractical, politically motivated, environmental edicts?
No...there's a more reasoned approach we should be using. Whereby as electric and other energy sources gain in performance & function, we then reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Just as we changed from horse driven transportation as the combustion engine became more efficient and affordable - that's how we should approach our current energy and climate problems.
Anything else is illogical.
Thanks for letting me put in my $.02 cents.

Well written Todd. Every angler who really cares about the future of coldwater fish should be looking for ways to reduce her/his carbon footprint and simultaneously sending a message to local, state and federal legislators that there is no time to lose in the battle to save a livable planet

This article is nonsense. Human caused global warming is the biggest hoax ever forced on the American people. It has never been about global warming. It has has always been about control. Global warming is the liberal’s ultimate vehicle for controlling everything everyone does.

I've heard it said when discussing climate change among fly anglers that one is talking to coverts and that a little precautionary warning goes a long way. Sadly neither is true. Thank you Todd for reminding us of how important--crucial even--it is for fly anglers to get involved and participate in this urgent global environmental crisis. Our 'wild' landscapes where fish live and prosper are precious and fragile, not to mention under threat. We ALL must do what we can to protect and save them for future generations.

You ever seen what a cobalt or lithium mine looks like? Dont act like your EV is making any progress in the world. Add in the slave labor being used in Africa to mine the cobalt how does that make you feel?

This article doesn't even pretend to be objective. Not intellectually worth pondering its points which rehash the Global Warming, now Climate Change screeds of the far Left. No question there is pollution to be mitigated and laws and ordinances that need enforcing. I will grant that our global population is growing and fast. But we can all fit in about a five or so mile cubic box. We are not swarming the planet. This nation has done more than most to keep sky and water clean. It will never be a perfect endeavor. The author is anything but the climate "realist" he would have us cast our votes for those who would represent his views. Sing us a sad song when you can explain away today's fears of climate cataclysm as to how many of today's winterlands were once tropical millions of years ago, when vast bodies of water flowed then shriveled up and became desert before humanity stuck its collective nose into nature. Your all electric, ban all fossil fuel world can crash harder, faster than any climate threat the Gretas can conjour up. Tight lines!