The Serendipitous Schminnow by Norm Zeigler


Some of the best flies contain an element of luck in their development. Al Troth once told me that he invented the Elk Hair Caddis as a wet fly but could not make it sink. My Norm’s Crystal Schminnow also fits this category.

This unprepossessing streamer pattern — which I invented 18 years ago for snook — has also caught 63 other species in fresh and salt water, from blowfish to stripers, steelhead and even sailfish.

The Schminnow was born about a year after my family and I moved to Sanibel Island, Florida. I had begun sight fishing for snook along the beach near our home and was unsatisfied with the local tackle shop’s fly selection, heavily weighted (pun intended) toward Clousers and a few Deceivers. I had observed that I got many refusals when I cast to cruising snook and that, in the case of Clousers, the fish would often spook if the fly landed closer than six or seven feet. There had to be a better way, I thought.

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Gumbo Shortcuts: Harry Campbell

Gumbo is probably the most reliable way to salvage game birds that are shot up or have been lingering in the freezer too long. I’ve tried dozens and dozens of different gumbo recipes and most of them were wonderful, so I’m not going to dictate my “favorite” gumbo recipe because I don’t have one. Instead, I’ll share some gumbo-making shortcuts that simplify the otherwise time-consuming preparation process, and urge you to discover a favorite recipe of your own on the internet or in one of the many cookbooks by Paul Prudhomme, Justin Wilson, or other New Orleans writers and chefs.

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Revel in a Creole Christmas with Reveillon: By Lindsay Mott

The spirit of New Orleans is about the party. Good food, good drink, lots of people and just outright revelry. The holidays are no different and give even more occasion to take something and blow it out of the water. Take a peak into how those with New Orleans and Creole roots celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.

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James Acord shares his custom Duck Strap


James wrote to Jim: “Since you have written about Duck hunting, I thought you might like to see a custom Duck strap I made for a lady customer to give her husband out in California, they both hunt ducks and in the past have ordered fly fishing cases from me, something new for me to try.”

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Wild Island Paradise: Haida Gwaii and its Winter Steelhead By Jeff Bright

Poking skyward from the sea off the northern British Columbia coast is an archipelago offering one of the most unique venues in the short list of high-profile steelhead flyfishing destinations. Known from colonial days as the Queen Charlotte Islands, and formally renamed in 2010 to represent its native people, Haida Gwaii harbors in its ancient, moss-draped forests an array of streams home to runs of large, wild winter steelhead—fish every bit as impressive as their cousin summer-runs born across Hecate Strait in the famous Skeena watershed.

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Nomads: My Bucket List // Photo Essay by Isaias Miciu Nicolaevici

There are mother-ships and then there are Mother-Ships. There are adventures and then there are Adventures. We all have a bucket list. More often than not, the destinations on it rarely live up to our expectations once we get there. But, there are exceptions to every rule. If time and money are of little concern, then the Nomads should definitely be at the top of your list.

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Battle at the Brick Yard // By Gordon Sutton

The 2013 turkey season seemed to ring with optimism. About a week before the season opened, I got news that sent my expectations into the stratosphere. My friend Gordon Giuliano’s (a.k.a. “The Don”) employer purchased a 300-acre tract of land we knew as “The Brick Yard.”

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Black Magic: The Ancient Powder with an Attraction all its own: By Terry Wieland

As a man-made substance, charcoal may well claim to be the oldest, as well as one of the most versatile, in human history. Like fire itself, the discovery of charcoal was probably accidental, but from that point tens of thousands of years ago, people have found one use for it after another.

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Trail Mix :: Story by Jim Stenson Photography by Todd Allen, Mark Lance, & Isaias Miciu Nicolaevici

It seems to me the older we get the more time we spend reminiscing about better days gone by, and I am certainly not immune. Perhaps those of us who love the outdoors are even more notorious for this than other old geezers. I grew up camping along the coast of Florida at least two or three times a month in the cooler months, those that pass for winter in South Florida. I will certainly tell whoever is unfortunate enough to be around to listen, how much the land and fauna have changed usually not for the better. Here, however, I’d like to reminisce on the part of the good old days which might just possibly have changed for the better considering your point of view.

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The Way It’s Remembered: A Letter by Bob White

My friend, Jay, is an English setter guy. He’s had at least one, and as many as three, ever since we were kids. It’s been my good fortune to occasionally share in the fruits of his dog training labors.

Jay called the other day. “I’m headed over to Wisconsin to pick up a new puppy,” he said. “Would you like come with?”

“Nothing would be nicer,” I told him, “but I’m at deadline on my new column…and I haven’t a clue what to write.”

“That’s too bad,” he replied. “Tell Lisa I’ll stop by on my way home and introduce you guys to the pup.”

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