Back Issue Content: 2012

One of the only upsides to having a drought year out West is that we can backpack up to the high country a few weeks earlier than normal. And since it's hard work getting up there, don't shortchange your trip by bringing that broomstick of a six-weight or that noodley old fiberglass rod because "it won't matter if you break it." Get a two-weight. Backcountry brookies and cutties can still be selective, and even if they aren't, casting tiny flies to 10-inch trout just feels better with the appropriate rod—especially after you hook one.

Images: Alex Cerveniak
How cane is like a venereal disease

Bamboo fly rods are a little like herpes. Both are achieved out of lust which, in the light of day, provokes a certain retrospective guilt. Both, once acquired, invoke the sort of awe that elicits careful handling, and—be it split-cane rod or irritated genitalia—the newfound host might find himself wondering "Damn… should I even touch that thing?" Perhaps most importantly, both can prove terrifically hard to get rid of. That said, a bamboo fly rod is also often quite beautiful, and valuable, and typically created at the hands of someone who cares deeply for the craft and its requisite tools—and the gesture of quiet loveliness that throws a feather-wrapped hook at a fish.

Image: Brad Tyer

Missoula's got nuthin' on Oberlin

I thought I was just sharing a lark—fine: I was bragging—when I posted a Facebook update a month after moving from Missoula, Montana, to Oberlin, Ohio: "Just caught a dozen bluegill on a fly rod in a light rain standing on the shore of Oberlin Reservoir. I think I'd forgot how much fun fishing could be."

My friend Dan's comment caught me off guard: "Guy leaves a trout mecca to fall in love with bluegill on a fly. Story of your life, perhaps."

Dan was right, I'd avoided fishing in Montana—turned my back on a daily luxury that normal people spend thousands of dollars and precious vacation time to indulge. Why? Honestly, I'm kind of scared of you people. You fishermen. You flyfishermen especially. So serious.

Two sides of Southeast Alaska

IT'S AN EARLY MAY MORNING IN SOUTHEAST ALASKA AND I WAKE TO THE SOUND OF SOMETHING EATING CRACKERS.

Rolling over from my plywood perch on the top bunk, I peer down to see all three of my cabinmates asleep. So I rule them out. Slipping the headlamp from beneath my pillow and turning on the light reveals not one but two Alaska-sized mice sitting on top of a cooler, munching saltines. I stare at them. They stare back. I grab my socks, scrunch them into a ball, and throw it at the intruders. I immediately regret using both socks. Out of ammo, I lower myself to the floor and shoo-away the rodents. Stepping outside to pee, my bare foot comes down on an ax leaning against the door, causing me to lose my balance and fall off the deck into a dark, wet pool of Chichagof Island rainwater mixed with wood chips and discarded, half-squished beer cans.

Dargan Coggeshallin is being sued for flyfishing on a public stretch of Virginia’s Jackson River. If he loses his May court case to River’s Edge developers—who claim to own the river bottom—you stand to lose, too. “You can be fishing in a public river that is marketed by the state—on a tailwater managed with taxpayer dollars—and you can be sued for doing that,” he says. Coggeshallin’s Virginia Rivers Defense Fund was established “to defend against misguided litigation that jeopardizes the public’s right to use and enjoy Virginia rivers.”