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Maryland Adds New Brook Trout Regulations

Big news for Maryland’s only native trout species!

As of January 1st, the state of Maryland now requires 1) catch-and-release for brook trout in all put-and-take waters statewide, and 2) catch-and-release for brook trout in all waters located east of Interstate 81 (central Maryland).

The purpose of this action is to eliminate the harvest of mature brook trout in Maryland’s most pressured waters (put-and-take waters) and stressed populations (fish east of Interstate 81).

Maryland brook trout regulation map
Courtesy of Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

This is a big win for brook trout conservation because brook trout populations have decreased substantially throughout their native range. The combination of human population growth, urbanization, and climate change have resulted in considerable habitat degradation, mainly through loss of forest cover and riparian zones, increased water temperatures, and siltation. Consequently, brook trout are found in less than 35% of their historically occupied areas in Maryland.

In an effort to maintain and enhance the current brook trout populations, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is in the process of developing a conservation plan to improve population resilience. Additionally, Maryland is a signatory partner of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement. The Agreement includes the Brook Trout Outcome, which calls for an 8 percent increase in occupied habitat by 2025.

Brook Trout
Courtesy of @gemichaels

For anglers worried about their ability to harvest trout, the DNR will continue their usual stocking efforts of approximately 330,000 hatchery-raised trout per year. Outside of native brook trout, stocked trout will provide ample opportunities to catch and keep other trout species. When it comes to brook trout, the DNR believes that the value of releasing these fish is greater, both socially and ecologically than harvest, especially given the abundant opportunity to harvest stocked trout.

It is also incredibly important for anglers to be able to distinguish between trout species when deciding whether or not to keep a fish. This is especially important for the put-and-take waters where there may be populations of both wild and stocked fish including brook, brown, and rainbow trout. If you need to brush up on your trout identification skills check out this video from our friend Huge Fly Fisherman.

Brook trout flank
Courtesy of @skinnywater_drifter

Brook trout populations are in constant flux due to a variety of factors. Droughts, high flows, and anchor ice are all factors that can impact the recruitment and future abundance of these fish. Eliminating harvest will not correct population declines associated with weather extremes, climate change, and land-use changes, but it may minimize further loss— particularly during stressful periods when large adults are most vulnerable.

For more detailed information on the new regulations see here. You can read the original regulation proposal, here.

All information in this article was obtained from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Throwback Video of the Week: Streamers Inc.

Happy New Year Folks! In this week’s Video of the Week, we are throwing it back 6 years to Craig and its epidemic of streamer junkies. Back then it was all about Clousers, Dungeons, and buggers until the black market dealer “7wt” got ahold of some flashback and maribou. All jokes aside this video touches on the sarcasm and fun it is to be a fly fisherman. Whether you’re a dry fly purist, a nymphomaniac, or a meathead this video will give you a good laugh alongside some awesome fish from the ever famous Missouri River. So sit back and enjoy as Mark Reisler and John Arnold get to the bottom of the Streamer Epidemic of Craig, Montana.

Make sure to check out these other articles as well and remember if you ever find yourself in Craig without your meat box, you know where to look.

Video of the Week: Carpoon

Video of the Week: Huge Fly Fisherman’s Trout Smackdown

Fly Fishing Streamers – Everything You Need to Know

Grassy Mountain Coal Mine: A Threat to Bull Trout, Westslope Cutthroat Looms in Southern Alberta

Southern Alberta, home to some of the most pristine wilderness and fly fishing in the world, is currently under consideration for a 1,520-hectare open-pit coal mine known as the Grassy Mountain Coal Project, funded by an Australian company Riversdale Resources. Coal mining in this region has been illegal since 1976, with the creation of the Coal Policy created in part due to potential impacts on fish and wildlife, until recently when the policy was rescinded without notice or public consultation. Open-pit mining is a process that involves destroying a mountain and separating the valuable parts from the invaluable parts, in this case, coal.

I traveled to this region from where I previously resided in Upstate New York in 2017, some 2500 miles each way, for a chance to catch both a Bull Trout and Westslope Cutthroat, one of the few places left in North America where you could catch both. In the United States, many of the remaining fisheries that still hold these fish are protected or restricted. Since 1999, the Bull Trout has been considered threatened in the United States, and in 2019, Canada moved them to a threatened status as well.

Location of the proposed Grassy Mountain open-pit mining project.

Bull Trout and Westslope Cutthroat populations are in major trouble in most locations in the United States and Canada due to habitat loss and degradation, blockage of migration corridors, and poor water quality. Bull Trout require colder water temperatures than most salmonids, need the cleanest stream substrates for spawning, and need complex habitats of lakes, rivers, and oceans that connect to headwater streams. Two of these headwaters are the exact proposed location of the mine. 

Author with an Alberta Bull Trout.

There are several rivers in Alberta where you can catch both a Bull Trout and Westslope Cutthroat in an afternoon, one of which being the Oldman River –a river system that is easily one of the most pristine and beautiful places I have been to. The river runs 225 miles through the Canadian Rockies, with a drainage of over 10,300 square miles, before joining the Bow and becoming the South Saskatchewan River, eventually draining into Hudson Bay. The river system is not only the home to these fish and other wildlife but is also the drinking water for 200,000 people.

The Grassy Mountain Coal Project will drain into both Blairmore Creek and Gold Creek, two critical habitats for both fish species and other wildlife. According to Riversdale Resources Limited’s website, “The Project is projected to produce around 93 million tonnes of product coal over its 23-year mine life.” The company goes on to state economic benefits for the region of about 350 jobs after construction and that they have an intensive plan to “minimize or reduce overall impacts to fish and fish habitat.” It is impossible to say how much the acknowledged impact will actually have on the fishery and does not account for the possibility of any kind of unforeseen accident. It is noteworthy that although Westslope Cutthroat are mentioned in the FAQ’s regarding the mine, Bull Trout are not mentioned anywhere.

You don’t have to be a biologist to see that an open-pit coal mine placed at the headwaters of two fish species that are very sensitive to pollution and poor water quality is a bad mix. I know that there are always economic benefits to projects like these, but is there really no other way to get them than this? Can the Bull Trout, the Westslope Cutthroat, and all the other species of wildlife in the area withstand the impacts of this mine over the next quarter-century? Is it worth finding out at the cost of this beautiful fishery for 350 jobs? The author, and many others, would say no.

If you agree, here’s a link to resources about the project: https://linktr.ee/flyberta

Click here to sign the Change.org petition against the mine.

Images courtesy of @FacelessFlyFishing and the author, Ben Burgholzer.

Lodge Living and Fishing in Alaska with Matt Bertke

I got the chance to chat fishing, flying, and lodge living with Matt Bertke, owner of Chelatna Lake Lodge in Alaska. Lake Creek comes out of Chelatna Lake, and I have spent some time rainbow fishing out there, so it was wonderful to chat with him about the creek and the beauty of the area. Matt is living the Alaskan dream, but it does sound like a ton of work! Check out the interview below to learn more about what it takes to own a remote Alaskan lodge and the amazing experiences to be had at such an incredible place.

Flylords: Who is Matt Bertke?

Matt: Oh man, that’s a hard question. I am a guy who lives in the middle of nowhere, and I like to go fly fishing and snow machining. I am also a lifelong Alaska resident and private pilot. Growing up I spent winters in Anchorage and summers out at Chelatna Lake Lodge. For the past six years, I have lived year-round at the lodge and get to experience the hard work and fun times of remote living.

chelatna lake lodge alaska

Flylords: What is life like living at a remote lodge?

Matt: Lodge life is not easy, there is a lot of work involved, but it is also very rewarding. Being able to share the beauty of Alaska with others is awesome. The northern light shows that I get to see all winter long are insanely beautiful.

chelatna lake lodge alaska

Matt: In the summertime, I fly my Cessna 206 back and forth from Chelatna Lake to Anchorage 2-3 times a week. During the trips, I get groceries for everyone at the lodge as well as fuel and other supplies. Summer lodge life is super busy and it goes by so quick, I wouldn’t change it for the world!

chelatna lake lodge alaska

Flylords: What are some challenges that come with living at a remote lodge?

Matt: Living in a place away from civilization sure has its challenges. For example, if I need something, I have to fly to get it. If the weather is bad and I can’t get to town then I’m out of luck for a few days. Logging is part of my daily life due to the lodge being heated by a wood stove, which is hard work. If something breaks down at the lodge, the only way to get parts is to snowmachine or fly them in.

chelatna lake lodge alaska

Flylords: When did you start fly fishing?

Matt: I was a freshman in high school when I started fly fishing; spending summers at the lodge gave me lots of time for fishing. Thanks to my dad I started being an assistant guide at the lodge right after that. It was always fun to go out with the guides after dinner and do some rainbow research.

chelatna lake lodge alaska

Flylords: What species can you fish for at your lodge?

Matt: Rainbow trout are my favorite species, and Lake Creek offers excellent rainbow fishing. Fall is the best time for rainbow fishing because the salmon start dropping eggs. The trout get super fat from eating all the eggs and late fall brings the huge bows. Fishing for arctic grayling, lake trout, and salmon is also offered at the lodge.

chelatna lake lodge alaska

Flylords: What do you do all winter?

Matt: Work hard – spending winters out here is a whole lot of work. A wood stove heats the lodge, so I have to cut down trees all winter long to stay warm. There is also a considerable amount of effort involved to get groceries or any other goods. I have to get all the snow and ice off my PA-12 and heat up the engine before making the flight to Anchorage. The short days of winter also make it harder to get things done.

chelatna lake lodge alaska

Matt: Although there is a ton of work involved, there are some pretty cool things I get to do! I love snow machining, and the Chelatna Lake area has some insane mountains and powder. Snowboarding is another fun winter activity that is pretty sweet to do with buddies when they come to visit.

Denali View001

Flylords: Why/how did you choose the lodge lifestyle?

Matt: My parents bought the lodge the year I was born, so I grew up spending summers enjoying lodge life. I always knew I wanted to run the lodge eventually, and my parents were thinking of selling it so I volunteered to do the winter caretaking. My parents and I ended up breaking a deal and six years ago I purchased the lodge and became the caretaker and owner. My parents would always hire a winter caretaker, but I decided to go all-in and move to the lodge full time. After spending one winter at Chelatna Lake, I fell in love and cannot imagine moving back to civilization.

chelatna lake lodge alaska

Flylords: How has COVID affected you and the lodge?

Matt: I mean I’m in the right place for COVID… just my girlfriend, me, and the dog out here! It’s definitely not super cool to be in tourism right now, we had some big-time impacts this past summer. Once March hit my phone was dead, no one was calling. I had to decide if it was worth bringing the staff out, and I did and we got some projects done and made the most of the situation. Luckily I was able to hold on to some bookings and push others to the summer of 2021. Hopefully business goes back to normal this summer!

Flylords: Is there an experience from lodge living that you will never forget?

Matt: My first winter at the lodge it was super cold and clear, so the northern lights were amazing almost every night. That first year I also realized how many noises the lake makes. Giant ice sheets would drop and giant cracks would form. I’m not going to lie, it was kind of scary at first but now I find it pretty cool! It definitely made me feel very small compared to the huge lake. An awesome part about lodge living is that there are always amazing experiences to be had, being out in nature brings exciting challenges and adventures.

chelatna lake lodge alaska

To keep up with Matt and his adventures in lodge living, follow him on Instagram @mattbertke or check out the Facebook page Chelatna Lake Lodge.

Fly Fishing Team Wins 178-Boat Bass Tournament, Out Fishing Conventional Tackle Teams

In what may be the biggest upset in American Bass fishing tournament history, a fly rod helped take home 1st prize. At the Wild West Bass Trail’s (WWBT) Lake Shasta Tournament on January 2nd, anglers Ryan C Williams and his partner Logan McDaniel took home both the overall “W” and the “Big Fish” prize of the tournament.


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A post shared by Ryan Williams (@_ryancwilliams)

The two winners of last weekend’s tournament were Ryan Williams and his partner Logan McDaniel, and according to Ryan, “the fly rod legitimately contributed 50/50 to our bag.”

Results of the Lake Shasta Team Tournament

While most will probably put their noses in the air and say this wasn’t a full victory for long-suffering bass-on-the-fly anglers seeking validation in tournaments. It does go to show that with perseverance, flies can, and sometimes will, out fish even the finest amateur conventional-gear anglers.

Congrats to Ryan and Logan for the victory, thanks for bringing one home for the fly team!

The WWBT is a bass fishing tournament series that runs in Arizona and California, playing host to both team tournaments and Pro/Am competitions.

How to Select the Correct Tippet for Your Fishing Trip from Trouts Fly Fishing

2020 is now behind us and the horizons of 2021 are live and well. This past year was a year of growth and reflection. Although it was tough and full of change, it was a great year to take advantage of your local waters in pursuit for the fish species we know and love. If you are new to fly fishing, it is important to know the basics going into 2021 to ensure for a successful year of fishing. As overwhelming as it can be, fly fishing is about getting outdoors, exploring new areas, and enjoying your time removed from daily stressors. In this tips and tricks video of the week, Russell Miller of Trouts Fly Fishing and Umpqua Feather Merchants breaks down how to select the correct tippet for your fishing scenario. Umpqua Tippet Material can be purchased directly from Trouts Fly Fishing at their Denver or Frisco locations or online by clicking here.

How to Select Your Tippet

Dry Fly Fishing:

  • Using nylon tippet is best when in comes to dry fly fishing. Nylon carries less mass that fluorocarbon material therefore it floats on the surface far better than heavier tippet.
  • The benefit of nylon is that it doesn’t absorb water. This means there will be less drag and better floating capabilities for dry flies.
  • Presentation with dry flies is everything and nylon improves the ability for subtle approaches.

Nymphing or Streamer Fishing:

  • Fluorocarbon tippet is necessary for nymphing or streamer fishing. This tippet carries a heavier mass and gets down in the water column much easier.
  • The goal for these two styles of fishing is to present the nymphs or streamers to the fish lying deep. This heavier and more invisible material is perfect for just that.
  • Fluorocarbon is naturally more abrasion resistant. This is very important for saving your tippet as it is pulled between rocks and structure deep in the water columns.

All in all, nylon tippet will be perfect when taking subtle casting approaches to rising trout. Fluorocarbon tippet is great for stealthy nymphing approaches as well as chucking streamers around all day. Hopefully you have learned how important selecting the correct tippet material is. Being educated on the water is one of the most important assets you can carry with you. Best of luck out there and remember to soak in and enjoy your surroundings!

For fishing gear, flies, educational courses, or guide trips check out Trouts Fly Fishing by clicking here.

Best Fly Fishing Sunglasses

As anglers, we are presented with countless options when it comes to choosing sunglasses. The sunglasses that work best in some scenarios like trout fishing will vary from those that excel in saltwater fly fishing environments. We’ll take a look at some of the performance benefits that different color lens can provide in various scenarios along with some of our favorite models. 

Polarized sunglasses are a crucial part of my fly fishing equipment year-round. Photo by @nikkibrockwell.

For starters, you’ll want a set of polarized sunglasses no matter where you find yourself fly fishing. The polarization on sunglasses acts to filter out horizontal light waves, which ultimately reduces the glare you get off of the water. Polarized sunglasses make spotting fish significantly easier than standard sunglasses. Regardless of brand, style, or lens color, every angler should have at least one pair of decent polarized sunglasses to help spot more fish while providing your eyes much-needed protection from harmful UV rays. There are a lot of considerations to make when choosing the best fly fishing sunglasses and I hope this simple guide will point you in the right direction.


Best Fly Fishing Sunglasses for Sight Fishing

As mentioned above, the lens color on polarized sunglasses can really make a difference in an angler’s ability to identify fish. This ability is extra critical when sight fishing for trout or bonefish that are prone to spooking easily. Brown, copper, and amber sunglass lenses are generally accepted as the best for trout fly fishing but also are great for sight fishing flats. They act as a great all-around lens that excel in differentiating well-camouflaged trout from the river bottom. 

Costa Caballito Sunglasses with 580P Copper Lenses are one of my choices.

The copper lens from Costa come in glass (580G) and plastic (580P) configurations and are a favorite of mine and many trout anglers alike. If you find yourself fishing in low light or overcast conditions, like chasing late evening trout rising to dries, yellow-tinted lenses can give you a big advantage. One thing to note for all sunglasses is that while plastic lenses are lighter in weight, they scratch far easier. For this reason along with increased clarity, I’d recommend going with glass lenses although they tend to be more expensive.  Be sure to give the Costa Caballito sunglasses with copper lens a consideration for great all-around trout fly fishing sunglasses. 

Best Fly Fishing Sunglasses for Saltwater

For saltwater anglers and even freshwater anglers that pursue fish in deeper water, lens color is a far less important characteristic to consider when selecting new fly fishing sunglasses. A traditional gray lens or even blue won’t alter your perceived colors like copper or amber that are designed to make the fish stand out, which isn’t an important characteristic if you aren’t sight fishing. 

The Costa Reefton Sunglasses are a Flylords favorite. Photo by @nateholmes_wild

Another consideration to make when selecting sunglasses is whether or not to choose mirrored or reflective lenses. This is really just a stylistic choice as there is no real added value in terms of enhancing your vision, so choose what suits your fancy. The Costa Del Mar Reefton sunglasses have been a favorite around Flylords for a while now as they have a large frame that provides maximum coverage. The Costa Reeftons come in a variety of frame and lens color combinations for the saltwater angler to choose from.

Protect Your Eyes

Picking up a pair of quality polarized sunglasses for fly fishing will not only protect your eyes from UV rays but they can also help you target and land the fish of a lifetime. While any polarized sunglasses are better than none, the reputation that Costa Del Mar sunglasses have garnered in the fishing world isn’t without merit. Lastly, don’t forget to take your polarized sunglasses with you the next time you head out on the water.

Where to buy: 

Check out the link here to shop the Costa Sunglasses store on Amazon, they can help you narrow down your decision based on what type of fishing you will be mainly doing and what style you prefer.

Alternative Brands

Some other great brands to consider would be Smith Optics and Electric. Smith is notorious for their Guide’s Choice sunglasses which provide great coverage. The Guide’s Choice Sunglasses are available in an array of lens options from blue to bronze to yellow, so there’s an option for every angling scenario you’re bound to encounter. Electric Sunglasses provide an opportunity to express yourself on the water with some less traditional styles that still perform when you need them like the JJF12 Polarized Sunglasses.

Article by Evan Garda, he is on the Content Team here at Fly Lords. He can be found chasing trout throughout the west with his trusty fly rod. Check out his adventures at @evangarda.

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Best Fly Fishing Gloves

Wild Reverence: The Wild Steelheads Last Stand [FULL FILM]

WILD REVERENCE is now available to stream for free. The movie had an everlasting impact on the steelhead community when it was first released. Watch the full film for yourself and learn about wild steelhead and their struggles to live on.

“Director Shane Anderson made a pilgrimage to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state to the rivers he once fished as a boy. His relationship with the wild steelhead and the rivers in which they met upon taught him just how precious life can be. What was once a childhood fishing trip has evolved into a journey to find answers why his favorite fish is disappearing from the rivers and appearing on the Endangered Species list. How could this wild and beautiful creature slip toward the abyss of extinction?”

WILD REVERENCE embarks on a quest to begin a movement to enact real change not only for the steelhead but for all ecosystems.

New Fishing Rules Signal a Renewed Hope for Washington’s Winter Steelhead

Behind the Fish: Steelhead/Salmon Biology with Scientist John McMillan

The Top Flylords Stories of 2020

It’s needless to say that 2020 has been a year that will be burned into our collective memory, and that’s not just because of the pandemic outbreak. The fly fishing world seemed to explode before our eyes as more and more new folks decided to give fly fishing a try. We had the honor of highlighting numerous brands and individuals in the fly fishing industry, focusing on how they were weathering the COVID storm in our “Staying Afloat” series. We even produced a film in this year’s F3T, “Time“, focusing on one of fly fishing’s living legends, Flip Pallot. But, more than anything, we are grateful for all of our loyal readers for following along this year, we could not do this without you! We’d like to extend the deepest thanks to all who have contributed stories to the Mag, your adventures, tips and stories of legendary fish keep us inspired, and never fail to get us stoked to get on the water.

So, on this, the final day of 2020, we wanted to look back and share the most popular stories of the year and a few of our favorites as we prepare our gear and stories for 2021!

Most Popular Stories of 2020

#KickRocks Campaign Stands Up Against Cairns

8 Trout Fly Patterns to Tie During Quarantine

Underwater Footage of Striped Bass Blitz Will Get Your Blood Pumping

How to Tell the Difference Between Stocked and Wild Trout

Feature Length Fly Fishing Films You Can Stream For Free!

Editor’s Picks

Staying Afloat Presented by Fat Tire

Introducing the Staying Afloat Serieswhere we take an inside look into the lives of many different fly fishing guides, shops, brands, and lodges across the world in hopes of finding out how the CO-VID is affecting them, what they are doing to help, and how we can do our part to help them.

Faces of Fly Fishing Series

Faces of Fly Fishing: Riverhorse Nakadate

Check out all our 2020 Faces of Fly Fishing Interviews, here!

Small Business Spotlight Series

The 3 Bearded Brothers of O’pros: A Talk About Family, Fly-Fishing, and Facial Hair

Check out the other brands we’ve highlighted, here!

2020’s Behind the Lens Interviews with the Fly Fishing Film Tour 

Check out all the films and interviews with the filmmakers, here!

The Bright Spots of Conservation in 2020

Illiamna River Lodge, Flylords

As we close out 2020, it is healthy to look backwards and celebrate the positives. Sure, it is easy to dwell on the bad in 2020–the human and economic devastation of COVID, wildfires, protests, a crazy election cycle, etc. There was, however, a great amount of good in 2020, too–without, in any way, minimizing any of the devastation. For all the partisanship over this past year, for example, applaudable bipartisanship emerged within the conservation sphere. Follow along for some of the greatest conservation victories of 2020!

Pebble Mine

Where to begin…denying Pebble Mine was one of the greatest conservation victories the fly fishing community has experienced. And it came in the middle of this difficult year, after many assumed it would move forward. Hundreds of thousands of anglers, conservationists, and Alaskans united to form a coalition for Bristol Bay that brought politicians together from across a wide aisle. There weren’t many issues that politicians agreed on in 2020, but opposing Pebble Mine enjoyed bipartisan support, facilitating the US Army Corps of Engineers denying Pebble’s permit. As we move into 2021, permanent protections for Bristol Bay under the Clean Water Act are needed and possible.

Klamath River Dam Removals

In a massive win for wild salmon and steelhead, a Memorandum of Understanding on restoring the Klamath River and dam removal was signed, Tuesday, November 17th, by the Governors of California and Oregon, leaders of the Yurok and Karuk Tribes, PacifiCorp, and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation. This would be the largest dam removal project ever undertaken in the United States and “restore salmon access to more than 400 miles of habitat, improve water quality and strengthen local communities that rely on salmon for their food, economy and culture.

Fishing and Hunting Participation

One side effect of COVID’s social distancing and quarantining practices was that more Americans took the outdoors. Fishing and hunting license sales contribute millions of dollars directly to conservation efforts throughout the country. In 2020, “many states saw a dramatic rise in residents taking a hunter safety class for the first time. Some reported growth in young, female and first-time hunters—groups that hunting advocates have been trying to recruit for years, in hopes of slowing the demographic decline.” Hunting and fishing license sales fund state conservation projects, which ensure public access, preserve clean land and water, restore habitat, and conduct environmental studies. Additionally, the more people that understand and appreciate the outdoors, the easier it will be to advocate for their long term preservation.

Great American Outdoors Act

The Great American Outdoors Act, which became law on August 4th 2020, builds upon LWCF’s 2019 permanent reauthorization by fully and permanently funding LWCF–$900 million annually. This bill guarantees that these funds are used to conserve and enhance our country’s outdoor recreation opportunities, rather than diverting them elsewhere. In addition, the bill provides billions of dollars to address a massive maintenance backlog on public lands. The broad support that allowed these legislative priorities to become law was a major bright spot for 2020 and a reminder of what is possible when our leaders come together. Regardless of the politics surrounding its passage, the Great American Outdoors Act, is one of the greatest victories for conservation in decades.

So, while we all took some hits this year–many of them life changing–it was not all gloom. We achieved great things for our lands, waters, and wildlife. Is there still more to do? Absolutely–there are countless priorities and projects that need our attention. But we learned in 2020 that we can accomplish serious priorities if we, the fly fishing community, come together. And, in one of the most encouraging outcomes of the year, our fly fishing community is growing!

The Top Flylords Stories of 2020

ASGA and Other Stakeholders Urge Responsible Menhaden Management


Lid Rig