October 2009

October 2009

Mousing Around in Alaska


Unforgettable is the way anglers describe a good day of mousin’ when big rainbows rise to the surface, often in a splashy, all or nothing style; these fish aren’t just trying to sip in a mouse, like a Montana rainbow might lip-kiss a PMD, they’re trying to kill it. They have to react that way because Alaska provides some of the harshest winter conditions in the world and those fish need every ounce of protein they can get.

  • By: Greg Thomas

Unnatural Gas

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"So-called clean natural gas fouls everything but your furnace. In a process called “hydraulic fracturing,” developed by Halliburton Company, a witches’ brew of water, sand, formaldehyde, acids, petroleum compounds and herbicides (highly toxic to fish) that discourage pump-clogging algae in wastewater ponds and tanks, is blasted into the earth at high pressure, fracturing the shale."

  • By: Ted Williams

Trout Realism


he artwork here is excerpted from Freshwater Game Fish of North America: An Illustrated Guide by Peter Thompson, available from Fly Rod & Reel Books.

  • By: Peter Thompson

Stalking the Conejos


"Creeks are 'dear to my heart,' as my grandmother would have said, and since I don’t have a spare heart to turn to, I’m glad to know there are hundreds of thousands of miles of them: more than I could fish in thirty lifetimes."

  • By: John Gierach

Simple Gifts

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FR&R’s 2009 Angler of the Year declares his move toward ultimate simplicity, on and off the water.

  • By: Yvon Chouinard

Inventing Montana

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If your life on water is, like Leeson’s, rich with rumination and memories, even ruminations about memory... “Memory forms our most private domestic space, the architecture of our own past, with its hearth, warm rooms and cold ones, vaults of pleasure and places where we just toss our junk…”

  • By: Seth Norman

Cover Stories

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The front cover is the face of a magazine. The façade. The entryway. Done well, through the image chosen and the cover lines written, it’s the summation of not only the pages to follow; but the feeling of the magazine. The cover strikes a nerve, triggers an impulse and arrests our attention. It causes the reader to pause after shaking the magazine free from the mail pile—or, to the enduring satisfaction of we editors and art directors who create these canvases, convinces a customer to buy this magazine from a retailer. More than a mere cloak, a cover is the magazine’s personality. Here, we went back to our beginnings, March/April 1979, marched through the decades and selected some of the most engaging of the past 178 FR&R front covers.

  • By: Joe Healy

The Secret Life of Walter Troutty


"Walter looked at the Lucite containers of pelts and parts surrounding him like circles of ice. The fur and hair ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous—antron, kip tails, hare hair, micro mink, monkey pelt and yak."

  • By: R. C. Hooker

2009 Traver Award Winner: The Land Beyond Maps


The 2009 Robert Traver Fly-Fishing Writing Award Winning Story: "She casts again, the backcast too low, almost onto the rocks, but there’s only beach back there. This time she strips too fast, the fly skittering across the water, which is all the trout needs to bust after it like some hog bass. Totally hooks itself."

  • By: Pete Fromm

Mack Attacks


"I cast again, saw the fly plop on the surface and a fish break to take it right away. I set the hook and the line flew through my fingers at lighting speed. I knew I had a nice-size mackerel, for sure."

  • By: Chico Fernandez

Blitz Season at The End


Montauk, the terminus of land off Long Island, New York, is known as “The End.” During autumn anglers consider it one of the country’s best fly-fishing locations for striped bass, bluefish and false albacore.

  • By: Pat Ford
  • and Paul G. Quinnett
  • Photography by: Pat Ford

Healing Wounds and Lifting Spirits


“I caught my first fish ever on a Woolly Bugger and absolutely loved it,” David Folkerts said. “Once I pulled that trout in and looked down and saw how beautiful it was, I knew I wanted to keep doing it.” Folkerts now serves as program manager for Project Healing Waters...

  • By: Deborah Weisberg

Creative Solutions


From 1929 to today, Winston has based its business on designing and building quality fly rods for specific angling situations.

  • By: Tom Keer

Traver Award Winners

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It’s my great honor to introduce the winner and the second-place finisher in the 2009 Robert Traver Fly-Fishing Writing Award Competition. Our lead short story this year, “The Land Beyond Maps”, which begins on page 42, is written by Pete Fromm, a Montana resident and the winner the first year we co-sponsored this important award with the John D. Voelker Foundation(1994). Fromm’s pace-setting story 15 years ago was “Home Before Dark” and is included in his collection of fishing stories Blood Knot (The Lyons Press) and will be the title story of a French edition of the same book, Avant La Nuit, to be published by Gallmeister Editions next spring. It’s also the opening story to our Fly Rod & Reel Books edition In Hemingway’s Meadow, a collection of Traver Award stories coming out this fall and available at flyrodreeel.com. Part of the proceeds of this book will go to the Voelker Foundation; Robert Traver was the pen name of John Voelker, the Michigan judge and beloved fly-fishing author in whose honor the foundation exists; go to voelkerfdn.org. The foundation has long made recognizing and rewarding great fly-fishing writing part of its mission, and contributes a cash prize of $2,500 each year for the winning stories we publish. We thank them once again for helping to celebrate fly-fishing’s deep literary traditions.

Our second Traver Award short story in this issue, titled “The Secret Life of Walter Troutty”, is by RC Hooker. He’s a graduate from Youngstown State University with a degree in philosophy, which he says is “a haunting honorarium that was both a social liability and a personal asset.” Naturally, the degree led to his teaching math and science and coaching basketball. But as writing about the outdoors became his destiny, the Montana resident quit teaching and began a freelance career in dreaming about fish in fishy places. His Traver story is a rollicking parody of James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”

  • By: Joe Healy