Back Issue Content: 2011

Severed by North Dakota, the Saskatchewan plains, Alberta tar-sands, and British Columbia’s snow-covered Coast Mountains, Gaylord, Minnesota, is far removed from a proposed large-scale Alaskan mining operation and the toll it would take on anadromous fish runs. But it’s in Gaylord that Sportsman’s Alliance of Alaska Director Scott Hed had lived a quintessential Midwestern life—playing football and baseball, hunting, fishing, and anxiously awaiting annual pilgrimages to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area—before he started down a path to spearheading the 49th state’s highest-profile environmental standoff in recent memory.

Hed attended Minnesota’s St. Olaf College, where the aspiring economics and accounting major crunched, chewed, and digested meaty numbers and the intricacies of gain, loss, and risk. Money, it was clear to Hed, made the world spin. And while Oliver Stone’s Wall Street was hitting paydirt in the late ’80s, an aspiring Bud Fox was born.

A different sort of worship

“Mountains are giant, restful, absorbent. You can heave your spirit into a mountain and the mountain will keep it, folded, and not throw it back as some creeks will. The creeks are the world with all its stimulus and beauty.” – Annie Dillard

I grew up in the Catholic Church where, by a certain age, I was deemed qualified to choose right from wrong and gently forced to admit the latter. I soon rejected this practice—the dark room, the hidden man, prayers at the end to make up for it all. It felt hollow to me. So I gave up the altar boy gig and slept in on Sunday.

Shortly thereafter, I began flyfishing Conoy Creek. It started as an excuse to get out of the house and smoke Backwoods cigars, but slowly became the place I went to figure things out. I started with the fish: where they were and what they ate. Then branched out: relationships, ambitions, how to get from point A to point B. The process became part of the casting, the wading, and the stream.

Image: Tom Bie
Because 1% of fishermen catch 99% of the fish
  1. Immediately institute “Finder’s Keeper’s” rule for all bales of pot that wash up in the Marquesas.
  2. Ditch Hemingway look-a-like contest and expand Fantasy Fest to the first Saturday of each month. Boobs and feather boas ring cash registers. Old fat white guys with beards, not so much.
  3. Student loan relief from Key West Community College, Sandy Moret’s Florida Keys Flyfishing School, and Vixon Fitness Pole-dancing University.
Image: Corey Kruitbosch
Are you paying to fish public water

There aren’t many rivers in the Rockies more appealing in late September than Colorado’s lower Taylor, which sits halfway between Crested Butte and Gunnison and is known nationally for its monster, mysis-shrimp-filled rainbows that inhabit the short tailwater section below Taylor Park Reservoir. The river received national attention of a different sort in the spring of 2010, when Dallas-based developer Jackson-Shaw purchased a 2,100-acre riverside ranch, named it Wilder on the Taylor, divided it into 26 parcels, and notified two local rafting companies—Scenic River Tours and Three Rivers Outfitting—that they were no longer allowed to float past the Wilder on the Taylor property, as doing so was akin to “walking across my front lawn,” according to a letter written by Jackson-Shaw president Lewis Shaw.

Steelhead by Thomas McGuane

I STOOD IN THE NEAR DARK AT THE TOP OF THE TRAIL THAT LED DOWN a series of switchbacks to the river. A neighbor had told me that for several days there'd been grizzly tracks all down the trail. I thought that grizzlies probably liked these low light levels and could see well enough to take your face off with a swipe. I was certain that if I could pass this test I would catch at least one steelhead almost on arrival. That was strong incentive and a steelhead had a better chance of forcing my move than a channel cat, perch, or horned pout. I fingered the bear spray and thought the sliding cap was awkward considering the speed of a bear. A friend of mine was attacked by a grizzly while he carried a rifle. He shot from the hip as there wasn't enough time to raise the gun to his shoulder and dispatch the airborne carnivore.