Rescued by Fishing

Bob [Guess] bought me my first fly rod, and we traveled and fished together for many years. I quickly discovered that I love everything about fly fishing. I love the scenery, the sound and movement of the water that can lull you to sleep if you’re quiet enough, the thrill of catching a fish. I love the peace. Fly fishing allowed me to distance myself from the horror I saw at work, and it restored a sense of calm. Bob revealed to me that with a pair of waders and a handful of bass flies, I could escape my world of lights and sirens and enter another in which I could hear the buzzing of a passing dragonfly, witness bass chasing minnows on the shoreline, or watch the rings emanating from a rising trout. Even though Bob passed away about 20 years ago, I still have some of his popping bugs, and I think about him every time I drive by Burke Lake.

Don’t tread on… Public Lands?

It was a beautiful day in the spring of 2012 when small business owner and fly angler Dargan Coggeshall headed to the river to clear his head. Tucking his fishing license into his pocket and his fly box into his kayak, Coggeshall entered one of Virginia’s finest waterways, Alleghany County’s Jackson River, from a public boat launch owned by the US Forest Service and managed by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) by joint agreement. Carefully keeping to a section of the river the state clearly marked as public property, Coggeshall gently released each naturalized rainbow and wild brown he caught back to its watery home. This, he told himself, would be a day to remember.

It certainly was.

Trespassing Issues

If you’re a landowner struggling with trespassing issues, you’re not alone. Landowners across the country, especially riparian landowners, are struggling to keep their property secure. Trespassing can occur for a variety of reasons, but most trespassing is done out of ignorance and not malice. I can honestly say I have never met a sportsman who repeatedly trespassed, once he or she knew they were on private property. Good sportsman respect private property. Below are a few questions you might want to consider if you are having trespassing issues. 1) Is your property posted legally? Posting requirements vary widely from state…

Baitfish Wars: The Ongoing Fight Over Menhaden Management

Like in an episode of “Deadliest Catch,” the winds are shifting and tempers are flaring in the menhaden management crisis. Fans of “reality” television are undoubtedly familiar with Deadliest Catch, a program that chronicles the trials and triumphs of anglers who brave the frigid temperatures and unpredictability of the Bering Sea in pursuit of the deadliest catch, the Alaskan king crab. Indeed, commercial angling is not for the faint of heart: it is considered one of the most dangerous professions, in the practice of which anglers get little sleep, work long hours, often perform arduous and dangerous manual labor, and brave the elements on a daily basis.

Who’s River Is It?

Tom Brown, fishing manager for the Orvis store in Roanoke, introduced me to the Jackson River. I’d been fishing the river intently just below the Gathright Dam and working my way downstream when Tom brought me up short. “We have to stop now, Beau. From here down to Johnson Springs is private property and there are cameras in the trees to spot errant anglers.” Naturally I thought he was joking, but he pointed to a very intimidating posting as proof. The sign left little doubt that we were not welcome beyond where we stood.

Where Have All the Menhadden Gone?

“What are you guys down there doing about the menhaden situation?” Jindal asked anxiously. “Virginia really isn’t all that popular with us right now because the menhaden population is really off. Most folks know that Virginia still allows commercial fishing of menhaden in state waters for purposes other than bait. You guys don’t seem too interested in doing anything about it. What gives?” For a moment I just looked out over the water and thought about his question, which was really an indictment. And then I explained to him where Virginia’s menhaden stand right now. It’s not a pretty picture.

Advanced Tactics for Farm Ponds

Seems like I spent my childhood fishing in freshwater ponds and small impoundments around my home—and I still love a good farm pond when I get the chance to fish one. Over the years, I’ve picked a few tricks to fishing such ponds, and I’ve learned a lot from my own mistakes. Here are a few tips that I hope will help to make your next pond fishing experience more enjoyable. Farm ponds and small aquatic impoundments crisscross the country and are found in nearly every state. Gaining access to these ponds is your first step to success. Though most…

Public or Private? The question of public access on New York’s Delaware River

Each year thousands of fly fishers make their pilgrimage to the great New York tributaries of the Delaware River, and with good reason: The beauty of the clean, cold water is intoxicating as it winds its way through the Catskill Mountains, placidly flowing past old farms and family homesteads that lie in stark contrast to the neon, concrete, and noise of the Big Apple to the south. Visiting anglers find the river not only picturesque but chock full of healthy brown and rainbow trout, some of which easily exceed 20 inches. Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado may win the “fly-fishing” word association game, but American fly fishing was actually born right here in the Catskills.

Hot Dogs

When my friend and international fly fishing guide Harry Robertson told me that he was going to Alaska to catch chum salmon, I thought he was pulling my leg. “I’ll admit that I don’t know much about salmon, Harry,” I snorted in derision, “but aren’t chums called ‘dog’ salmon because the Alaskan natives fed them to their sled dogs?” After all, everyone knows that folks travel thousands of miles and drop thousands of dollars to catch kings and silvers—not chums. Harry looked down his nose at me before responding, “You’re right, Beau: You don’t know much about salmon. If you…

Who Owns the River? An Angler’s Guide to Staying on the Water

Each season anglers find it more difficult to pursue their passion on public waters. Private fishing clubs and other exclusive properties are on the rise—a boon to those who can afford them, certainly. But three recent case studies from Virginia, Tennessee, and Utah serve to illustrate the problem and its ramifications for everyday anglers nationwide.

“You having any luck today?”

Startled, I turned to find a man standing right behind me. I hadn’t been paying much attention to my surroundings, and instead was focused on the crayfish pattern I’d been meticulously retrieving near an old stump on the far side of the stream.

“Yes, I have,” I replied, eyes fixed on my line as I continued to fish. “I’ve had a very good morning.”

“Have you kept anything?” he asked. It was then I realized I was not talking to a curious angler, but someone who obviously believed I was up to no good.