Back Issue Content: 2013

Idylwilde’s Wild Ride

The fly-tying company that lost—and blogged—it all

On the morning of May 19, 2013, Idylwilde Flies founder Zach Mertens stared into his computer screen, digesting the bizarre circumstances that had sent his business spiraling. He then began punching paragraphs into the keyboard with the kind of blunt transparency unexpected of a company president and owner of an established business—a man who had, in the past, kept quiet about what had ailed him.

"In 2012 I fell extremely ill to debilitating depression," he wrote. "This was brought on by stress and the amount of work I was doing to insure [sic] that Idylwilde was successful and to build a brand that you the consumer of our flies could relate to. That stress, combined with emotional trauma from my past, sent my brain into shut-down."

Keeping tabs on steelhead and salmon


Almost Every Northwest Angler living within 100 miles of the Columbia River or its tributaries has a weekly, if not daily, if not hourly, ritual this time of year: checking the salmon and steelhead counts passing over eight dams on the Columbia and lower Snake rivers—Bonneville, The Dalles, John Day, McNary, Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite. Until the mid 1990s, about the only place to find these numbers was the sports page of The Oregonian newspaper. Now, "daily" reports no longer satisfy society's instant-info demands. Lucky for the obsessed angler, sharp-eyed human fish-counters stationed beneath the dams mean we don't have to wait.

Landing the Indiana State Record Atlantic Salmon

I woke up Sunday morning with no way to hold my head that didn't hurt. I contemplated spending the rest of the day staring out the window, imagining fishing trips that never happened. But the cobwebs started to clear, so I figured I might as well go fishing.

I loaded a new two-hander in the car that I'd been meaning to master. This time of year, the fish—smallmouth, mostly—are sluggish and hold deep. So I had low expectations but still wanted to get out there and throw some line. I had an old Atlantic salmon fly, a General Practitioner, that I thought might be a reasonable crayfish imitation, so I tied it on, made a couple practice casts, then let ‘er rip.

The IGFA calls Steve Huff "the most well-respected guide in the history of flats fishing." In Andy Mill's book, A Passion for Tarpon, he calls Huff "bar none, the best tarpon guide alive, the best there was and the best there ever will be." Though he spent the first half of his career guiding the Lower Keys, Huff has spent the past twenty years in the Everglades, where long-time Drake contributor Monte Burke caught up with him for a day of backcountry tarpon fishing.

Groundhog Day for Salmon

Another biased BiOp makes the rounds

Fishing is a fine way to gain insight into the true nature of water. Russian literature is an equally effective medium for getting a handle on the nature of corruption.

In the 1842 novel Dead Souls, by Nikolai Gogol, the protagonist Chichikov connives to get rich off a bureaucratic loophole. Estates are taxed based on the number of serfs the rich keep. Counted as “souls” on census data, which is gathered far less frequently than taxes are levied, the wealthy complain incessantly about being taxed for their “dead souls”—serfs that have died—but are still counted as a tax burden on outdated government rolls. Chichikov to the rescue: He roams the Russian countryside, greeting a batch of greedy, vain, unscrupulous landowners, offering to buy their dead souls. Then he’ll take this list to the bank, use it as collateral to procure a lavish loan, and live like a king for the rest of his days.