Fish

Muskie Tribe

  • By: Brad Bohen
  • Photography by: Tosh Brown
brad_bohen_muskie_tribe.jpg 

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I used to be a blissfully happy trout angler living a normal life in southwest Montana, catching dozens of fish a day on tiny dries or great big streamers. I had a job, a life, a routine. Now I’m a bachelor living in the Wisconsin northwoods, packing a fly box the size of a briefcase, and I’m happy when I boat a single fish in a long day on the water. My only routine is treating chronically slashed-up hands and healing my pride after it is trounced by what has become the focus of my life—the muskellunge.

So why did I give up trout and take on this highly predatory and confounding fish? The answer is this: The pull of my home state was too strong to ignore, and I wanted to rediscover myself, find my soul, on the water, while mastering what many considered an impossible task—regularly taking muskie with flies.

Blowing it Up

  • By: Robert S Tomes
  • Photography by: Tosh Brown
Blowing It Up    

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Whether you realize it or not, modern fly-fishing is guided by an age-old code of conduct with specific rules that help you catch more fish and, in some cases, keep the peace. Among those rules: don’t spook the fish; don’t drag your fly; keep your tip up; let the fish run; and never, ever give away a friend’s secret spot.

That’s all true in the world of trout, but in the Midwest and its emerging world of muskie fly-fishing, anglers are smashing those rules by blending elements of conventional and saltwater techniques, including big flies and figure-eight retrieves, to take muskie, with regularity, on flies.

Near Record Fish Count on Idaho's South Fork Snake

The South Fork Snake is one of Idaho’s best trout fisheries—some would argue that is the gem state’s best fishery—and it hosts some solid rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout.

It gets a lot of pressure from locals and the outfitting crowd from Jackson, Wyoming. Bu the river keeps banging them out each year and it should continue to do so in 2012 because research conducted last fall found more than 5, 177 fish per mile in the river, the second highest tally since the mid-1980s.

What does that mean? It means that you should hit the river this spring before runoff and then continue to do so after runoff, which should occur sometime in July this year.  Also this: if you’re looking for a really big brown trout, meaning a fish that stretches past 24 inches and might weigh six, seven, eight, even 10 pounds, the South Fork is a good place to toil—it holds some hogs.

Skwala Stones Emerging on Montana's Bitterroot

It was too nice not to get out of the house this weekend and throw a line on Montana’s Bitterroot River. My decision was made a little easier when I talked to John and Jed Fitzpatrick and was told that they’d take care of the boat and shuttle—all I had to do was show up and fish. That I can do boys, even after staying out way, way too late on Saturday night.

Fab 5 Fall Hatches

  • By: Greg Thomas
  • , Matt Supinski
  • , John Holt
  • , Tom Keer
  • and Skip Morris
  • Photography by: Louis Cahill
October Caddis Serendipity

I enjoy watching friends fish, but this debacle was too much and I was on the verge of losing it. My pal Dan Summerfield had just missed, like, 15 eats in a row.

“WTF,” I shouted from my perch above Idaho’s North Fork Clearwater River, mocking our dreadful societal sway toward slaphappy acronyms, as if I were texting instead of sharing an afternoon on the water with a friend. He answered, “This size 20 Baetis is so small I just can’t get a good set.”

Cold-Weather Trout

  • By: Dave Hughes
  • Photography by: Dave Hughes
Oregon's Deschutes

The standard advice for trout fishing in nippy winter weather is TO rig with a sinking line and a big streamer (to coax idle fish into action), or with a pair of weighted nymphs (to roll along the bottom and right into open mouths). Both formulas have their appropriate places, when temperatures fall and also when water levels rise. But rigging takes second seat, in winter, to something far more important: Reading water to find the trout. If you cast those sunk streamers and tumbling nymphs in water that holds few fish, or just as often no fish at all, you’ll have system failure, even if you do everything else precisely right.

Riviera Redfish

  • By: Walter Kirkland
  • Photography by: Walter Kirkland
  • , Tosh Brown
  • and Greg Thomas
Big Bull Red

Looking forward to the late fall and winter, my neighbors in Fairhope, Alabama, duckaholics for the most part, work themselves into apoplexy anticipating the beginning of their annual bird slaughter. Those not as mad at them ducks might turn their attention to catching redfish in Louisiana or Texas. But, I don’t care for freezing my butt off in futile attempts to blast mallards from the sky, nor for hauling my boat down to the Biloxi Marsh to stalk fickle redfish that disappear on anything other than a perfect bluebird day.

Sight-Casting for Black Drum

  • By: Chico Fernandez
  • Photography by: Chico Fernandez
Black Drum

Black drum get no respect. And I really don’t know why: THEY TAIL while feeding on the flats, you can sight-cast to them in shallow water, they are plentiful, they grow to more than 100 pounds (that’s not a typo), they can fight hard and they are not easy. If you haven’t cast to a big, tailing black drum, I recommend you give it a try. You may become a better angler for it. I have always thought that when you go after a new species, you can’t help but learn more about the fish’s environment and the different foods in their habitat, while improving your casting accuracy, fly manipulation and fish-fighting.

Cape Cod Stripers

  • By: Rob Conery
  • Photography by: Bob Mahoney
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You can hear it as soon as you step on the Centerville property. It gets louder as you walk down the grassy path, past the flats skiff and the old Bahamian smuggling vessel up on stands. From the open barn door near a small pine grove, in the humming, electric air, an urgent buzzing pops. Inside, from the rafters hang fly rods, surfboards and yacht club burgees.

Going Coastal

  • By: Greg Thomas
  • Photography by: Greg Thomas
Chasing king salmon along the Bering Sea.

I have adventure-seeking in my blood; my great grandfather hunted sharks for their oil from a wood skiff during World War II and was a market hunter during the Klondike gold rush; my sister used to cruise around Alaska on commercial fishing boats and now runs fish-buying operations there; my father was a part-time commercial fisherman and hunted mountain goats and brown bears in Alaska; and an uncle and a cousin are cut from that mold, too, one brewing moonshine and prospecting for gold in Idaho, the other a trapper, a bow-hunter and a sailor who now wants to ride a horse, solo, across Mongolia.