Friday, September 16, 2011

20 Questions: Craig Mathews

Craig Mathews
Craig Mathews is one of my heroes, so when he agreed to be the second victim of the Eat More Brook Trout 20 Questions challenge, I couldn't have been happier. In addition to being one of the country's fly fishing elite, Craig is a staunch conservationist who, over the years, has been able to speak truth to power in a way that is constructive and helpful. And he puts his money where his mouth is--in partnership with Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, Craig helped start the "1% for the Planet" program, where businesses and industry could earmark 1 percent of their profits to conservation-centric the non-profits of their choice. 

To date, the effort has contributed over $100 million to the environment. 

When I first moved to Yellowstone Country in 1999, Craig's book (that he wrote with Clayton Molinero) was one of my first purchases, and I kept that copy in the glove compartment of my truck for years, until one day, during a sudden rainstorm at Cave Falls, the book just fell apart on me. Craig was key to me venturing into the Yellowstone backcountry, and I'm forever grateful for that education. 

Craig lives near West Yellowstone, Mont., with his wife Jackie and stable of dogs. You can find him most any day at Blue Ribbon Flies in West, sharing information with anglers. He'll be the guy with the smile on his face.

Now... on with the questions:

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  
Native trout rising to a mayfly or a caddis fly emergence on Yellowstone waters … a calm-clear day and not another soul on the river.

2. What is your greatest fear?  
Specifically climate change and the fact that the environment is 19th on the peoples’ list of problems to deal with when it should be the top priority.

3. Which historical figure do you most identify with?  
Perhaps Teddy Roosevelt.

4. Which living person do you most admire?  
Michael Finley, former superintendent of Yellowstone National Park who never ran from a fight to save our national parks from those who would use the parks for their personal gain and greed.

5. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?  
I have no patience

6. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  

7. What is your favorite journey? 
I'm on it, one of the original fun hogs of life.

8. On what occasion do you lie?  
When it protects someone I love.

9. Which living person do you most despise?  
Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

10. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  
''Unbelievable,'' and ''dead as a wedge.''

11. What is your greatest regret?  
Not moving to Yellowstone Country sooner. I came when 29 years old and have been here now 33 years.

12. What or who is the greatest love of your life?  
My wife, Jackie.

13. What do you consider your greatest achievement?  
Being co-founder of 1% for the Planet, total giving $100 million for conservation to date.

14. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?  
I'd like to think it may be a honey badger, fearing nothing, fighting for all that is right.

15. What is your most treasured possession?  
My 3 dogs; Taz, Leksie and Finn.

16. Where would you like to live?  
In Yellowstone Country, where I live.

17. Who are your favorite writers?  
Nick Lyons, Kafka, Vince Marino, Carl Hiassen, Col. E.J. Harding and G.E.M. Skues.

18. Who are your heroes?
Those folks that stand up for the environment; those holding bake sales to raise money for environmental causes to protect; preserve and enhance wild places and wild things for all future generations; those taking on the polluters and plunderers that would steal a healthy life from our kids and grandkids and all things wild.

19. How would you like to die?  
Knowing our world is safe from those that would steal and plunder wild places and wildlife, clean air and water from us in the name of progress.

20. What would your profession be if you couldn’t do what you do now?  
Police officer, a former profession of mine.

BONUS QUESTION: If there is a Heaven, and you go to Heaven, what would God say to you upon your arrival?  
Finally … someone from Montana!


  1. Ha! Great questions and great answers. It's easy to like Craig and make him a hero.

  2. Chris,

    I have always admired Craig Mathews. I've found his book on the Madison to be totally accurate and extremely helpful. I've been in Blue Ribbon Flies and Craig personally showed me how to tie some good flies for the Madison. To his great credit, he is very approachable and not the least bit arrogant.

    More importantly, every time I step foot into the waters at $3 Dollar Bridge with the sun rising to the east, I say a prayer of thanks for Craig Mathews and others for preserving that special place. I was there just a few weeks ago and the sunrise, the landscape and the river were so beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes. I want my kids to see and experience such places and it's good men like Craig that will make this possible.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.


  3. A good man, someone I can get behind. An interesting yin and yang from your last 20 questions.

  4. Indeed... a little bipolar blogging, huh?

  5. That was a perfect coffee read for this saturday morning. Thanks!

  6. Great read!

    Short note: 1% FTP companies give one percent of TURNOVER, not profits!

  7. Craig is for real! One of the awesomest fly anglers out there, who serves as a great inspiration to people like me.
    "What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? - I have no patience"
    That's just not right! A very patient man too. While taking me and a few friends tenkara fishing in Montana he seemed very happy to watch us not changing flies that day despite the slowish fishing, and continued to point us to great lies.
    Thanks Craig for 1% for the Planet, and for the inspiration!