John Voelker at Frenchman’s Pond in 1980. From the collection of the American Museum of Fly Fishing. Photo by Al Pellicane. 

The Robert Traver Fly-Fishing Writing Award was created in 1994 by Nick Lyons and the John D. Voelker Foundation to encourage and recognize “distinguished original stories or essays that embody the implicit love of fly fishing, respect for the sport, and the natural world in which it takes place.” The Traver stories and essays must demonstrate high literary values in one or more of these three categories:

  • The joy of fly fishing: personal and philosophic
  • Ecology: knowledge and protection of the natural
  • Humor: piscatorial friendships and fun on the water

The award is named after Robert Traver, pen name of the late John Voelker, author of Trout Madness, Trout Magic, Anatomy of a Fisherman, and the 1958 best seller, Anatomy of a Murder.

Since 1994, twenty-two awards have been given for the winning entry. Two anthologies of the Traver Award–winning essays were published in two volumes: In Hemingway’s Meadow (2009) and Love Story of the Trout (2010).

The 2022 Traver Award

The John D. Voelker Foundation and the American Museum of Fly Fishing are pleased to announce that submissions are now being accepted for the 2022 Robert Traver Fly-Fishing Writing Award (the Traver Award). The 2022 award, which includes a $2,500 prize, will be granted for the winning short work of fiction or nonfiction essay in the English language not previously published commercially in print or digital media. “Short work” means 3,000 words or less. An entry fee of $25 will offset the administrative costs of the award program. Previous Traver Award winners are not eligible.

Please submit an entry form, a PDF of your entry, and entry fee to by midnight on May 31, 2022. The form and additional submission requirements can be found on the Voelker Foundation website. The 2022 Traver Award winner will be notified in the fall of 2022, with the winning entry to be published in the Winter or Spring 2023 edition of the American Fly Fisher, the journal of the American Museum of Fly Fishing.

Submission Instructions

Writing Webinars

In April 2022, the John D. Voelker Foundation and the American Museum of Fly Fishing hosted two panel discussions with past Robert Traver Fly-Fishing Writing Award winners and honorable mention writers, in which they discussed their stories and their writing process. These free webinars, intended primarily for aspiring writers and future entrants in the Traver Award competition who are looking to raise their writing to the next level, are available for viewing below.