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FISHING AT FLETCHER'S COVE ON THE POTOMAC, ONE OF THE BEST SHAD FISHERIES IN THE COUNTRY.

Coming to terms with a new reality

This past December, I received an unwelcome holiday surprise. Our corporate overlords rounded up the staff at the magazine where I've worked since its inception, twenty-three and a half years prior, to announce our new direction. The upshot: We could still pursue exciting careers in magazine journalism, a vocation now rivaling that of lamplighters or bowling-alley pinsetters for growth potential. Just not at our magazine. They were shutting it down. We were all sacked. As Christmas bonuses go, I'd have preferred a Cabela's gift card.

PAYOFF ON THE MADISON, JUST UPSTREAM FROM ENNIS.

A winter of discontent in Ennis

If your summer plans include a tailwater weekend along Montana's Madison River, you won't be alone. In early April 2018, after years of surveys, public meetings, and citizen advisory committees, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) released its draft Recreational Management Plan for the Madison, which included some alarming data. From 2013 to 2017, the number of angler days on the upper Madison doubled, from 88,000 to 179,000. Data also showed that commercial outfitter use had increased 72 percent from 2008 to 2017.

"HOW CAN I BE THE ONLY ONE OUT HERE FISHING?" PHOTO BY NICK PRICE.

Just another walk on the beach

My primary tactic for snook in South Florida revolves around what my friend, Bear, calls "people avoidance." It's become a mantra that leads us toward, through, and past things—not only what river-section to float or campsite to choose, but when to pick up or set down certain hobbies, learn new ones, or abandon old ones entirely. It can sometimes be easy to forget about the people variable. But then you whip into a beach parking lot and find the lot full of minivans and the beach crawling with unrepentant shoobies.

FISH ON. ROD GONE... PHOTO BY BRIAN GROSSENBACHER.

Not the leave-behind you wanted

My father stood in the middle of the Beaverhead River, looking upstream calmly but urgently, almost how he looks when he's sorting cows. This was a little different. His reel and his rod's butt section were sitting on the bank. And he had a question.

"Do fly rods float?"

CHICKEE CHECK-IN TIME. PHOTO BY JEREMY CLARK.

Revivalists and renegades in South Florida's Everglades

It begins as a subtle unzippering across the surface. Nothing more than shape and motion—forcing the brain to calculate distance to target, direction of movement, and speed of travel. These computations form the basis of what comes next: an attempt to drop a bottlecap-sized fly in the path of a rocket-sized fish. Results vary. But when all goes well that nebulous wake erupts in an airborne Everglades tarpon—thrashing and hanging in the sky for a brief moment, like a postcard image from a lost era.