Maine's Smallmouth Bass

  • By: Rick Ruoff
  • Photography by: Barry Beck
  • , Cathy Beck
  • and Val Atkinson
smallmouth_3_9_lg.jpg

Flip open a copy of Delorme’s Maine Atlas and Gazetteer and you might be amazed at all the water in the state. Probably best known for big brook trout and classic landlocked-salmon fishing, Maine has everything required to fulfill fishing fantasies. Throw in some wonderful saltwater fishing for stripers and blues along the coast, not to mention the big bluefins shouldering along the continental shelf, and what else do you need? Well, bass, for one thing. Largemouth and smallmouth inhabit areas of the state as large and varied as the trout and salmon habitat, in some spots even overlapping those salmonids.

Tarpon, Man, Tarpon

  • By: Greg Thomas
  • Photography by: Louis Cahill
  • , Greg Thomas
  • and Jeff Edvalds
Man Vs. Tarpon

That I ever ended up in the Florida Keys at all was happenstance. Catching a tarpon on the second cast I ever made to those fish, from the bow of a 28-foot cabin cruiser called the Water Lilly, no less, was pure miracle.

But that’s getting ahead of myself. First about the Keys—to be honest, in my 20s I had no interest in saltwater fish, aside from the Northwest’s salmon. I was fixed instead on the northern Rockies and learning those waters better than any trout-bumming author on the planet. My thought process was this: There are too many great trout streams in the Rockies, and too many varied hatches and water conditions, to understand many of them well, let alone to know a few completely. So, why stray?

secret spring creek

  • Photography by: Brian Grossenbacher
Secret Spring Creek

Kept from public knowledge; withdrawn, remote, secluded.

Photo essay

Foreign Tied

  • By: Zach Matthews
  • Photography by: Greg Thomas
Foreign Tied Flies

“DEAR SIRS,” the e-mail started, “My name is Reginald Kibugi, and I am seeking to sell you excellent-quality fishing flies.” My cursor hovered over the Spam button, but the next line made me hesitate: “My asking price is $3 per dozen.” That’s a quarter a fly. Was this a good deal? A bad deal? I didn’t know, and chances are, you’ve received similar e-mails, if not this very one, and you don’t know either.

In order to answer that question, you have to know a bit about the world of commercial fly-tying, and that means you need some history. Back in the 1970s, an American professional fly tier named Dennis Black was driving from shop to shop to peddle his wares. On one of his long road trips across the West, he had an epiphany: He might be better off supervising other tiers than doing all the work on his own.

Fishing Soft-Hackles

  • By: Dave Hughes
  • Photography by: Dave Hughes
Sylvester Nemes on the Yellowstone River

I first met sylvester nemes through his 1975 book, The Soft-Hackled Fly. It was a small book, tightly focused on its single subject: wet flies tied with bodies of silk thread, sparse hackles, rarely anything extra. Sylvester’s prose reflected his subject perfectly. It was spare, compact and didn’t stray from its subject. Which is to say, the book was beautifully written. Best to me: It was—and is, because it’s still in print under the title The Soft-Hackled Fly and Tiny Soft Hackles—one of those rare books that enthused me to immediately sit down at the vise, tie a bunch of the flies described, and rush from there to a stream to fish them.

The flies, and the methods described, worked. Sometimes they worked wonders. One of my favorite days with them came on a gloomy fall float of Utah’s Green River, downstream from Flaming Gorge Dam. Few trout rose all day. My friends and I tried pestering them to attention with weighted nymphs tumbled along the bottom, which turned out to be ineffective—and because it produced few trout, was also very little fun.