Outside

Essays on outdoor adventures and expeditions


Outside: Secret Waters

Spring & Summer 2009       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

Last summer, as gas rose to $4 a gallon, I decided that a footloose angling life was something I couldn’t sustain. I vowed to stay close to home and fish local…

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Outside: Chasing Brook Trout

Fly Fishing 2011       Written By Greg Thomas      

I got into brook trout for the same reasons I sought brown trout, golden trout, char and, for that matter, tarpon, bonefish, permit and even Atlantic salmon; like most anglers I…

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Outside: A Larch by any Other Name is not a Tamarack

Fall 2014       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

I had a college buddy who used to flip off every logging truck that passed by. This wasn’t a problem on the highway where he could step on the pedal…

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Outside: Flies from Foreign Lands

Arts 2014       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

I never considered fly tying to be a dangerous endeavor until I pushed a chair away from my tying table and sank a size-4 streamer hook into the bottom of…

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Outside: Fish On The Brain

Fly Fishing 2016       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

Giving yourself just 24 hours to catch a steelhead and then setting out on the road to do so is one of angling’s worst gambles. Especially when you must drive…

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Outside: Steelhead in the Magic Forestgreen on the Sol Duc

Fly Fishing 2012       Written By Greg Thomas      

I first felt a need to step on the Queen Charlotte Islands back in the 1980s when a friend and I steered a 42-foot long wood trawler, called the Cape…

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Outside: Cabin Living

Arts 2015       Written By Greg Thomas      

For a good part of my life I thought everyone’s vision of a cabin meshed with mine: a small, single room, post-and-beam or log structure set in the woods, heated…

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Outside: The Culling

Winter 2011       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

I'm not sure whether mule deer hunting or commercial fishing defined my work ethic. I do know that each endeavor — scouring the remote alpine basins of Washington’s jagged Cascade Mountains…

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Outside: Saving Grace

Fly Fishing 2015       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

When you’re known as “the fly fishing guy,” and you live in Montana, friends and acquaintances are sure to come knocking. This isn’t a bad thing because I love introducing…

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Outside: On the Front

Fall 2016       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

I started hunting back in the 1980s, climbing into Washington state’s highest and gnarliest alpine terrain to find some big-bodied and wide-antlered mule deer. Those bucks were tough to come…

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Outside: Hard Angle

Winter 2009       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

WHEN I FIRST MOVED TO MONTANA I thought that being a true resident of Big Sky Country meant spending winter in the wind and snow. Those who headed south to…

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Outside: Public Water, Private Experience

Arts 2009       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

Living in southwest Montana, in what my gardening book describes as the most brutal of growing zones, I spend half the year dreading the onset of fall. I have nothing against…

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Outside: Riding High

Summer 2014       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

If there’s an absolute about mountain biking on a vast array of trails surrounding Missoula, Montana, it’s this: You’re either struggling uphill in a state of leg-grinding and lung-burning misery,…

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Outside: Grayling

Fly Fishing 2014       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

Nobody likes a grayling until nothing else bites. Then that bland-colored pushover that’s painted like a gray winter sky and has a nasty maw like a whitefish becomes everyone’s little…

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Snakes, Drakes and Baetis Bonanzas

Summer 2012       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

I lived in Jackson, Wyoming, back in the 1990s, scratching out a living at the local newspaper, spending my pennies on cheap beer and as many flies as I could…

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Outside: Pike A-Plenty

Summer 2015       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

Northern pike weren’t supposed to spread through Montana like a swarm of locusts. No one planned on them trying to eat their way through this state’s trout population. In fact,…

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Outside: Salmon River Steelhead

Fly Fishing 2017       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

I grew up along the Pacific Northwest’s coastal salmon and steelhead streams where it was easy to spot the rookie anglers: These were people who proudly posed for photos with…

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Outside: Three for the Doldrums

Arts 2016       Written By Greg Thomas      

I have a friend who called one day in a panic and said, “There’s a new fly people are fishing on the Big Hole and the trout can’t refuse it.…

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Outside: Sea Run at Nimmo Bay

Fly Fishing 2013       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

It's take time for me to realize that fishing trips, no matter how well I prepare for them, rarely match and seldom exceed my pre-trip expectations. At least in the ways…

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Outside: “Tough Trip Through Paradise”

Winter 2013       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

For a few straight years in the early 1980s my Uncle Bill gave me the gift of time travel. That’s when he and my aunt packed a slew of my…

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Outside: Esox on the Fork

Winter 2016       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

You really can’t blame the northern pike for living in Western Montana’s waterways; these fish simply rode in on the helping hands of anglers, decided they liked the scenery, and…

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Outside: Fly on the Wall

Arts 2011       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

Adam Trina Got it like most of us get it, only his “What are you going to do with your life?” moment came from a client he was guiding on Montana’s…

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Outside: One-Fly Season

Winter 2015       Written By Greg Thomas      

Several seasons ago I switched from wearing a classic fly-fishing vest to a modern fanny pack, not necessarily as an outdoors fashion statement, but rather to avoid being choked to…

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Outside: Guilt by Association

Fly Fishing 2009       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

Each spring in the mid-1990s my dad and I traveled to the Florida Keys and hung out with a business associate who considered public water, even if five boats were…

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Outside: Chasing Lunkers

Winter 2010       Written By Todd Wilkinson      

You've heard the lament of that fly fisherman from Missoula — the troutcentric fellow who wet his hackle along the Big Blackfoot, dabbled in words and had a novella turned…

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Outside: Hit the Hatch

Fly Fishing 2010       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

There was a time and it wasn't long ago when I needed to hit every major western insect hatch within 1,000 miles of my front door. It wasn’t as if I…

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Outside: The Hunter’s Dilemma

Fall 2015       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

Any seasoned outdoorsman can tell you that getting there and back is half the fun. But at 5 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11, I was feeling anything but eager to…

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Outside: Onto the Smith and Out of the Grind

Summer 2013       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

For many people the most anticipated day of the year is Christmas, when most of us find out what’s beneath all that wrapping paper and ribbon. For those who like…

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Outside: On the Blackfoot, for Cutthroats

Summer 2016       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

If you fish Montana’s Blackfoot River and you want to get away from the throngs, sooner or later you’ll encounter loose footing, high above the water, hoping that the entire…

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Outside: On Your Own

Summer 2011       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

If it has to be an argument I’d say Montana has more quality public trout water than anywhere else in the West. That’s especially true if you like large streams…

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Outside: Lost Fish

Arts 2013       Written By Greg Keeler       Art By Parks Reece      

From the Editor: In the first year of Big Sky Journal, the Keeler & Reece column added a dash of sporting humor with comical writing and punny illustration. This collaboration…

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Outside: The Art of Fishing with Tricos

Arts 2010       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

To this day, my greatest mistake was leaving Ketchum, Idaho, in the mid-1990s after being fired from an editor position and, subsequently, declining an offer to assist one of Sun…

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Outside: Wading into the Future

Arts 2012       Written By Greg Thomas       Photography By Brian Grossenbacher      

KC Walsh wasn’t fond of the view. In fact, peering over central Los Angeles from his shiny, silver-tinted office window at Deloitte, he didn’t see anything that even hinted at…

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Outside: Missoula’s Mountains

Winter 2012       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

Back in the 1990s, while attending the University of Montana, I was anything but a model student. I was interested in the outdoors, not in the classroom, and knew then exactly…

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Outside: Minimalist on Rock Creek

Summer 2010       Written By Greg Thomas       Illustrated By Fred Thomas      

Last June, I started a website called Angler’s Tonic and like any major project it began with great optimism and excitement, but as weeks went by it lagged into burden and…

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