On a typically beautiful fall day in Montana, the event taking place at the Riverside Country Club in Bozeman was anything but typical. Jim Klug, founder of the fly fishing destination travel company Yellow Dog Fly Fishing, was honored with the American Museum of Fly Fishing’s Izaak Walton Award in an evening ceremony on October 5.
Our honoree was in the company of friends, family, and industry professionals who showed their support as the AMFF recognized him for the contributions that he has made to the sport of fly fishing and the conservation of the waters that we fish.
His business partner at Yellow Dog, Ian Davis, introduced Klug at the event, speaking warmly about his friend. He recalled the first time that they met, with a funny story about Jim being the first customer in a fly shop that Ian had just opened in Breckenridge, Colorado. It was that moment, Ian said, that he knew that he was in the presence of someone that he would want to be associated with for the rest of his fly fishing career. Stemming from that impromptu sales visit where he took the time to solicit the unsuspecting owners of a new fly shop (Jim ended up being the sales representative for a tying materials company, after all) to his photography work and Yellow Dog Fly Fishing career, Ian credited Jim with being the hardest working man in fly fishing. He then spoke from the heart about the Yellow Dog Community Conservation Foundation, which helps fund programs that improve the communities in which Yellow Dog does business. This is possibly the biggest passion project of the two creators of Yellow Dog Fly Fishing, as Ian detailed the unsettling conditions that they have seen in these places and the personal steps that they have taken to make them better.
An old man in a top hat who only fished dry flies once said "You can't have too much fun on the river". The Yellow Dog staff did not listen to that man.
Jim then took the stage and detailed the melting pot of oddities that he has experienced in his travels in search of fish – from being airlifted from a Bolivian jungle, to hopelessly wandering the alleys of Kashmir in search of beer for his film crew, to teaching an impromptu geography class to Guyanan school children. Looking back on his life in fly fishing, Jim recalled with a smile that “I have chased bizarre species, I’ve experienced exotic cultures, and I’ve found myself in more sketchy and uncomfortable experiences more times than I can probably count, each time swearing I would never discuss or mention it if I ever I made it home. But the neat thing is that all of these experiences, all of these things happened because of fly fishing. And it’s always amazing to me the places that this sport takes you. And In the end it’s the places, it’s the people, and the memorable connections, and most of all the stories that have made this journey so fulfilling.” Jim also commended the museum for being an entity that is truly dedicated to preserving the rich heritage of fly fishing and credited the board and staff for appreciating that “the history of angling is about much more than simply catching fish. What it is, is an important part of our American culture and tradition.” He accepted the Izaak Walton Award with humility and credited his family, friends but most of all his wife, Hilary, for encouraging his ambitious lifestyle and being a steadying, supportive influence while he was traveling. He also made sure to note that, despite a colleague’s remarks, just because he is receiving the museum’s award it does not mean that he is old.
Proceeds from the event benefitted the American Museum of Fly Fishing. In the pre-dinner auction, guests had the opportunity to bid on destination trips and even an R.L. Winston bamboo fly rod from their San Francisco days. The AMFF would like to thank Jim Klug, Ian Davis and the wonderful staff at Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures who made this event possible and more fun than we could have ever imagined.