The John D. Voelker Foundation and the American Museum of Fly Fishing (AMFF) are pleased to announce the winner of the 2023 Robert Traver Fly-fishing Writing Award: “Middle-Seat Meditations” by Matt Powell of Twin Falls, Idaho. Mr. Powell’s story is a fly-fishing guide’s reflection on karma, enlightenment, and suffering on the Henry’s Fork.
The winning entry will receive a $2,500 prize and is available to read on the American Museum of Fly Fishing and the Voelker Foundation website. “Middle-Seat Meditations” will be published in the Winter 2024 issue of the American Fly Fisher, the journal of the American Museum of Fly Fishing.
Matt Powell’s hunting and fishing stories and his bird dogs have been featured in outdoor magazines and on television. Matt is a professor at the University of Idaho, where he has studied trout and salmon for more than 25 years. He lives in southern Idaho with his wife and their two Weimaraners.
Mr. Powell commented, “I am deeply honored to be receiving the Traver Award and I sincerely appreciate all the time and consideration given by the judges. I am truly excited.”
The Traver Award judges also bestowed Honorable Mention recognition on two other entries:
“Fixer-Upper” by Thomas Walters of Banner Elk, North Carolina
“The Cerulean Trout” by Jacob Sotak of Montpelier, Vermont
Both honorable mention stories are available on the American Museum of Fly Fishing and Voelker Foundation websites, and their writers will each received a $250 prize.
The 2023 competition drew a field of 65 stories and essays. Entries were judged anonymously resulting in six finalists. The other three finalists were:
“Crossing the Blue Ceiling” by Jon Tobey of Duvall, Washington
“Fish on the Wall” by John Humphrey of Mystic, Connecticut
“Hope Truly Is the Thing with Feathers” by Mike Toth of Pennington, New Jersey
The Traver Award is named after Robert Traver, pen name of the late John D. Voelker, author of Trout Madness, Trout Magic, Anatomy of a Fisherman, the 1958 best seller Anatomy of a Murder, and the fine historical novel Laughing Whitefish. Judge Voelker also served on the Michigan Supreme Court as its 74th justice from 1956 to 1960. A collection of Voelker’s finest “yarns” and observations about fishing was published posthumously by Nick Lyons in 2001 under the title Traver On Fishing.
The Traver Award was created in 1994 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 winning story or essay must demonstrate high literary values in one or more of these three categories:
— The joy of fly-fishing: personal and philosophic experience
— Ecology: knowledge and protection of the natural world
— Humor: piscatorial friendships and fun on the water
Twenty-four Traver Awards have been conferred since 1994. Two anthologies of the Traver Award winners and finalists have been published: In Hemingway’s Meadow(2009) and Love Story of the Trout (2010).
The Voelker Foundation and the American Museum of Fly Fishing joined forces in 2018 to administer the Traver Award and publish the winner in the AMFF journal. For more information, see www.voelkerfoundation.com and www.amff.org.