Rapid Fire Questions
What does the perfect day on the water look like for you?
“I love to hunt as much as I love fishing. I fish about 180 days a year and really enjoy casting dry flies to rising trout – that is my first love. We live on the Madison River, and I can see the Madison from our house. But I really enjoy just walking and stalking and fishing dry flies on the river here. Basically, any day of the year, provided that the weather and the wind is such, the winter offers some great dry fly fishing. You have midges, there’s nobody on the river, and you’re pursuing rising fish. And you can get close! I love to see their eyes when they take my fly. I’ll wait on my knees a lot – we’ll get as close to the rising trout as we possibly can. Sometimes, you have to back off of them in order to make a cast.”
Is there a particular fly fishing memory that stands out to you?
“You’re not going to believe this, but a couple of years ago, I fished for a brown trout on the Firehole River in the park. I love the Firehole River as well as the Madison, but I was fishing to this brown trout, and I fished to it for nineteen days. I couldn’t get it! I couldn’t get a good float or a proper presentation to this fish. I finally hooked it on a size 24 Sparkle Dun. I land it, and I’m just screaming to myself, you know. And a buddy of mine comes running up… it was 9.5 inches long. Those are the kind of fish that I love to remember. And I don’t care if it was only 9.5 inches. You know, those are the ones that really, really make a difference to me.”
What are a few pieces of gear that you never leave home without?
“My Tom Morgan Rod Smith 8.5 foot 4 weight. That’s my favorite rod. You know, you can fish 7x with it. It protects the fine tippet, even with big fish. It’s the best casting tool for close-in fishing, and I just love that rod! When Tom was still alive, he made it for me, and I fish it pretty much every day. I’ve got several other rods, but that’s my favorite.”
If you could fish with a celebrity, who would it be?
“Well, there’s several, but I’ll try to narrow it down. My closest friend is Yvon Chouinard, the owner of Patagonia. We fish a lot together. We fished many, many days over the course of the year together. One of the lasting relationships that I’ve had with an angler and a real close friend is Tom Brokaw. We did have a chance to fish together several times, but I’ll never forget going up to Slough Creek, the Silvertip Lodge, and spending a week with them a few times during the course of the year. It was always such a joy to fish with them and their whole family.”
How can we all do a better job of involving ourselves in conservation?
“Being in the fly fishing business and even simply just fly fishing – we’re all in an extractive industry. We’re using public resources to satisfy our goals and our fun times by catching wild and native fish. With starting 1% For The Planet, recently we broke $360,000,000. With 1% giving, it’s all about conservation and environmental issues. We feel that if you use a public resource, you have to give back, particularly if you’re in the business. I try to encourage younger people to become more conservation-focused, which is really hard for people now. I keep thinking I will have to write an article someday and call it “The Death of Advocacy.” People profess to be environmentalists, but nobody wants to step forward when it comes to activism and advocacy. And I’ll admit, some of them are guides and outfitters. You have to protect the resource because it’s the source of their living. I just spoke before Montana State University School of Chemical Engineering. I don’t know a dang thing about chemical engineering. There were a couple of hundred people there, and my part of the program was advocacy and activism – how you get involved with a unique community building, community participation, and advocating for wild trout and wild places and clean air and clean water, and particularly what we’re seeing right now. We’ve got to stand up and speak up a whole lot louder and more frequently for what we love and what we want to protect.”
What are Your Favorite Fly Fishing Destinations, Besides the Greater Yellowstone Region?
“I’ve been all over Patagonia and do a lot of salt. You’ve got to experience Patagonia. I mean, whether it’s Argentina or the Chilean region of Patagonia. It’s such a special place. Regarding the fish, there are no avian predators there, so you can stalk fish, and they’re not afraid of anything flying, so you know you can watch them feed and get close to them. You can sit on the bank and watch fish feed for quite some time. Then you can try and imitate what they’re feeding on. I’m not a big streamer or nymph guy, I want to mimic what they’re feeding on. It’s satisfying to see it.”
What are trips that are on your bucket list?
“Someday, I’d like to go to New Zealand. I put it off and I’ve been invited to go many times. It’s almost like I keep postponing it, and because I want to relish it”
What's new in Craig's world?
“Well, we just started the Fly Fishing Climate Alliance. Right now, we’re scrambling for members and for money. We’ve got to stand up for wild and native trout resources, our clean air, and our clean water. Let’s face it, activists and advocacy. It wasn’t John Muir or Roosevelt. It was people holding little bake sales trying to raise money to fight dams and to fight pollution and that’s what we all have to stand up for. That’s what I advocate for right now.”