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New Owners Ensure a Future for the Flyfishing Film Tour

A mass e-mail went out on December 31st from the four "Fish Bum" members of AEG—Thad Robison, Justin Crump, Chris Owens, and Brian Jill —to all of the 2009 sponsors of the Flyfishing Film Tour. The message contained three short sentences, with the important one right up top:

"Effective today 12/31/08, I have resigned from AEG Media. It has been a pleasure working with you."

The announcement sent off a landslide of speculation in the flyfishing blogopshere as to what caused the foursome to resign and what the future might hold for the Flyfishing Film Tour.

"Eldredge Bros. Fly Shop started in 1992 with Scott Eldredge's love of fly fishing. This was an idea he had for a fly shop that offered excellent customer service where any fly fisherman, no matter what their skill level, would feel comfortable." This is what Jim Bernstien, the manager, told me four years ago. To this day, they offer some of the best customer service I have seen any where.

I pour a little rum in my cider and get typing. At present, I am coupled with winter, 400 square feet of cabin, a half-empty bottle of rum, and memories of my rookie year of guiding in Yellowstone Park. The only sound breaking the tap-tap of the 'writer is the occasional gust of wind dusting off the roof. A summer spent on the Firehole seems so distant now. Far off like the bonefish flats and snook mangroves of someplace tropical that I'm too poor to visit.

In Montana there are two kinds of winter days-those that are warm enough for fishing and those that aren't. Here, cold is a relative term. A week of high-sky, 40-degree weather in early November can send the Baetis hatch into submission and seem downright arctic after a month of Indian Summer. Yet a windless February day topping off at 35 will feel balmy enough to send you searching for early stoneflies.

Here's how you float the Yellowstone: With a good friend, it's impossible to make a mistake. It's also impossible not to. Every oar splash and drift through a seam is cause for good-natured accusation and graceful riposte ("You're the shithead." / "Hey, fuck you.")

Waiting your turn at the put-in, sizing up the other fishermen. Judging. There is, you decide, at least one fundamental truth about fishing. You yourself are the standard by which other fishermen are measured. Turns out that everyone is either a clown in costume or a sunburned, squint-eyed guru. On a hot weekend morning, the boats are lined up anchor to bumper. Tired guides tying on flies. Nervous clients pacing back and forth, glancing at watches. Name brands everywhere. Which leads to another truth about fly-fishing: Like a magnet with paperclips, it collects pretension. Look at these people. Christ. Inevitably, you find yourself in one of two camps. Competing with or reacting against. That guy in jeans soaked to the crotch and a stringer of browns for the barby might be somebody you could drink a beer with . . . or a local to be ignored. The fat man in the Orvis waders and Armani polarized glasses, his pipe leaking slow trails of Prince Albert, is either a resource to be mined or an out-of-stater to be mocked.