A Look Back at Anglers of the Years

A Look Back at Anglers of the Years

1985 Art Flick It is no small wonder why FR&R (just R&R back then) chose Art Flick as the very first Angler of the Year. Few ang

1985 Art Flick It is no small wonder why FR&R (just R&R back then) chose Art Flick as the very first Angler of the Year. Few anglers before or since have influenced fly-fishing as much as Art Flick. He is best known for two monumental books that marked the advent of a new period of American fly-fishing. The classic Streamside Guide to Naturals and Their Imitations (1947), and its successor Art Flick's New Streamside Guide (1969) distilled the esoteric entomology to a form easily digested by anglers.In addition to his writings, Flick led early efforts to protect the Catskill rivers he so often fished. He also fought hard to create New York's first no-kill water.

It should come as no surprise, as well, that Art Flick was one of the first two inductees into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame; the other inductee was Theodore Gordon. Update: Art Flick passed away in August, 1985. 1986 John Voelker Also known as the acclaimed author Robert Traver, or simply The Judge, but no matter by what name went by there is something both familiar and august about the man who gave it all up to fish for his brook trout on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Born in 1903, John Voelker captured perhaps better than anyone else the lifestyle and ethic of his generation of fly fishers, as well as influencing generations to come. But what people who knew him, as well as those who have simply read his books, remark most repeatedly about Voelker is that he was a man who was able to live exactly as he choose-right along the shores of a beaver pond. Update: John Voelker passed away in 1991. 1987 Dennis Black Back in 19Tk, Dennis Black started a small fly-tying operation along the banks of an Oregon river named the North Umpqua. Three decades later, Black's company, Umpqua Feather Merchants, of course, is one of the most recognized and respected names in fly-fishing.

Besides producing some of the most consistent, high-quality flies on the market, Black has been influential in introducing many new and dynamic patterns to anglers.

UDATE: Dennis is still on the Umpqua River about half the year and the other half in New Zealand. So he is still quite busy and but manages to tie a few flies and hook some fish. 1988 Nick Lambrou Nick Lambrou isn't a big name in fly-fishing. He has never made any money in the sport, he's not sponsored by any tackle companies, and most people have never heard of him-which is exactly why we gave him the award. Nick is leather cutter by trade and an extraordinary New England angler. Everyone knows someone like Nick-a quiet, modest type of guy who doesn't say much, but who just happens to be the best damn fly fisherman around. That's Nick Lambrou for you.

UPDATE: Nick Lambrou is alive and well, happily retired and still going strong. 1989 Richard May As the founder of California Trout (or CalTrout), Richard May led the fight to protect much of California's trout waters. In the 1970's May was instrumental in getting the Carter administration to designate many northern California rivers under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Always controversial, people either loved him or hated him, but to legions of West Coast anglers, Dick May is the man responsible for preserving many of the waters they fish today.

UPDATE: Richard retired from CalTrout leadership a dozen years ago and now heads the California political action committee TroutPAC. He attends CalTrout Board meetings as chief cheerleader. May journeys to New Zealand to fish every couple of years. Life is good. 1991 Bill Yellowtail Crow tribal leader, Montana state senator, rancher and fishing guide are all hats Bill Yellowtail has worn. His home waters are some of the best Montana has to offer including the Big Horn River and Lodge Grass Creek. As a state senator, Yellowtail was in the center of the stream access issue, and through his efforts anglers and floaters are able to enjoy access to some of the best rivers and streams Montana has to offer.

UPDATE: In 1996 Bill Yellowtail ran an unsuccessful bid for the US Congress, but later served as EPA's Denver-based Region 8 administrator in the Clinton administration. He now works as a guide in Montana. 1992 Leon Chandler Perhaps no one else has played a bigger part in helping spread fly-fishing across the globe than Leon Chandler. In 1941 he began working for Cortland Line Company as an accountant and eventually became the promotional director of the company before retiring in 1992. It was as the consummate sales rep and casting instructor, though, that Chandler cemented his fame in front of hundreds-of-thousands of spectators at fly-fishing shows around the world, particularly Japan where he is credited with introducing the sport in the 1970's. Chandler's countless television and media appearances, along with his foreign ventures, have earned him the title 'The American Ambassador of Fly-fishing.'

UPDATE: Leon Chandler is retired and travels between New York State and the West in his RV chasing trout. 1993 Fran Stuart Besides being an exceptional angler and fly tier, Fran Stuart was also the conscience (and critic) of FR&R. Alright, Fran repeatedly wrote letters taking the editors to task for (in her opinion) bias, sloppy reasoning, and basically anything else that didn't sit well with her conception of a fly-fishing magazine. Besides being a pain in the neck for the editors of FR&R, Fran was a passionate Atlantic salmon angler and created many patterns that have now become standard salmon flies, such as the Green Dragon.

UPDATE: Fran passed away in 1993 just before she was named AOY. 1994 Joan Wulff Joan Wulff is the first-lady of fly-casting, the grand dame of our sport. She has been casting a fly rod for more than 50 years and has shared her knowledge with thousands of anglers through her schools and instructional material. Besides being an expert caster, Joan is a serious angler-with her late husband, Lee Wulff, Joan traveled the world catching trophy fish, as well as offering some gentle suggestions on how to fix that tailing loop. Her easy manner and knowledgeable advice has made Joan one of the most beloved persons in fly-fishing.

UPDATE: 1995 Rusty Gates If Michigan's Au Sable River has a guardian angel, it would be Rusty Gates. He has led almost every effort to protect the river he grew up fishing. As the founder and president of Anglers of the Au Sable, opponents have called Rusty a 'communist,' a 'left-over flower child;' and even threatened to burn down his house and shoot his hunting dog. But Rusty's advocacy for catch-and-release, vocal opposition to gas mining and his hardline stance against military land grabs have made the river what it is today: perhaps the finest trout river east of the Rockies.

UPDATE: Rusty is still working to stop oil and gas development along the banks of the Au Sable, as well as raising funds for large, woody habitat programs throughout the river system. 1996 Gary LaFontaine The fly-fishing community owes much to Gary LaFontaine. Foremost, he is the man most responsible for transforming the caddisfly from a frustrating, little-understood insect into the go-to fly on streams across the country. His 1981 book Caddisflies is a classic that ranks right up there with works of Vincent Marinaro and Lee Wulff. Gary followed with two more books, as well as instructional videos and countless magazine articles (he published his first at age 15). Beyond his technical and literary achievements, Gary's biggest contribution to fly-fishing was as an ambassador of a sport he found so intellectually stimulating and enjoyable.

UPDATE: Gary passed away in 2002 after battling Lou Gehrig's Disease. 1997 Charles Gauvin In 1991 Charles Gauvin joined Trout Unlimited as executive director and later became president and CEO. He is credited with turning TU around following a period of declining membership and disconnection with its supporters. Under Gauvin's leadership, TU has become the premier coldwater conservation organization in the country.

UPDATE: Charles Gauvin is still at the helm of TU as president and CEO. 1998 Lefty Kreh Of all the big-name fly-fishers, there's only one who's recognized by his first name alone-Lefty; and no one is bigger in this business than him. To thousands of anglers around the globe, Lefty is like the familiar old uncle who taught you the basics of fly-fishing. Besides being a heck of a nice guy, Lefty also knows a lot about what goes into making a good fly rod and how to fix a sloppy cast. In the end, Lefty is simply one of the best.

UPDATE: TK 1999 Nick Lyons As the founder of The Lyons Press, Nick Lyons is responsible for many of the fly-fishing books that line our bookshelves and clutter our desks. Along with being an editor and writer, Nick Lyons also possesses the business savvy to manage his company to success in the cutthroat publishing industry. He is also the author of a number of popular angling books, such as The Seasonable Angler, and Confessions of a Fly-fishing Addict.

UPDATE: 2000 John Gierach John Gierach is everyone's favorite fishing buddy. He's probably fished by proxy with just about every fly-fishing angler living today. His string of highly successful books, including Trout Bum and Sex, Death and Fly-Fishing, have made Gierach a familiar name in fly shops from coast to coast. Indeed, John Gierach may be the best fishing buddy you've ever had that you've never met.

UPDATE 2001 Bob Clouser Just about every angler in the US, or the world for that matter, owes Bob Clouser a debt of gratitude for designing the fly that, more often than not, saves the day from what otherwise would have been a total skunking. Originally called the "Clouser Deep Minnow," its name has been abbreviated by its ubiquitous success, and now anglers the whole world over know the secret of the "Clouser."

UPDATE 2002 Ted Turner Love him or hate him, Ted Turner was Angler of the Year in 2002. No, we didn't pick him so we could fish his property; and no, it had nothing to do with the politics of his ex-wife. Yes, we picked him for his unfailing support for native westslope cutthroat restoration in the section of Cherry Creek that flows through his Montana ranch; and yes, many people have strong views on this subject.

UPDATE 2003 Robert Behnke Whenever there is a dispute among the FR&R staff about a particular aspect of trout biology or life history, we invariably turn to Dr. Robert J. Behnke for the final word on the matter. Behnke's seminal work, Trout and Salmon of North America, is a priceless resource for the curious-minded angler. Although he is now retired from a long career as a professor at Colorado State University, Behnke is still the final authority on all matters trout and salmon. In fact there's even a species of trout named after him: Oncorhynchus clarki behnkei, or commonly called the Snake River Finespotted Cutthroat Trout.

UPDATE: 2004 Ted Williams Since Ted Williams began writing our Conservation column in 1991 we've received countless letters from readers both criticizing (to put it mildly) and praising his writing. Ted is one of the few outdoor writing in the business who consistently writes about how the issues of conservation and the environment are critically important to sportsmen. Although the topics he covers can range anywhere from forests policy to personal watercrafts, one thing though is for sure: Ted Williams doesn't pull any punches.