With Thanksgiving come and gone, I find that I’m still thankful. I’m thankful for my friends and family, but mostly I’m thankful for the fish. These are the 15 species that make the fly-fishing world go round and why we should still be thankful for them:

1. Brown trout. Thank you for being the ultimate immigrant. You’re not “from” North America, or South America, or New Zealand, but you turn more people on to fly fishing in those places than most other fish. You built the empire.

  1. Carp. Thank you for always being there. You can live in dirty water, clean water, cold water, warm water, moving water, and still water. And you’re always somewhere nearby. You never complain.

3. Tarpon. Thank you for changing my life. The first time I hooked you, and watched you jump and rattle, everything I ever thought about fly fishing changed in an instant, and I have not been the same since.

4. Brook Trout. Thank you for being the messenger. You tell us when our rivers and ponds are sick by simply going away. But when you get cold, clean water, you show us how you can flourish.

5. Largemouth Bass. Thanks for taking one for the team. You divert the attention of most of the anglers in America, so our beloved trout don’t get pounded harder. But you still like to play fly-fishing tricks yourself. You’re a real gamer.

6. Smallmouth Bass. Thanks for proving that smarts, and grit, and toughness are more important than physical appearance. Because let’s face it, you’re ugly. But we adore you for who you are.

  1. Cutthroat Trout. Thank you for living in the prettiest places in the world.

8. Bonefish. Thank you for living in the prettiest saltwater places in the world. And thanks for swimming 27 miles an hour after you eat a fly. Nothing else on the reel feels quite like that.

9. Permit. Thanks for teaching us humility. Actually, you’re kind of difficult to thank, because your really aren’t typically a “giving” fish. But thanks anyway.

  1. Striped Bass. Thanks for stopping by. We don’t get to see you all the time in the same places usually, but we can count on you swinging by for a visit.

11. Redfish. Thanks for being so fair. You reward good casts, but you aren’t foolish. You aren’t overly demanding, but you’re no stooge. You’re the most “fair” fish on the planet.

  1. Pacific Salmon. Thanks for feeding us. A special shout-out to the dog (or chum) salmon, because, though you’re typically not the best tasting, you are pretty cool to look at.

  2. Atlantic Salmon. Thanks for doing your best. We’re sorry for making you homeless in America.

  3. Northern Pike. Thanks for the memories. Your toothy maw makes for the ultimate grip-n-grin photo for any angler’s wall.

And last but not least…

  1. Rainbow Trout. Thanks for teaching so many of us. Most of us learned to fish by chasing stocked rainbows somewhere. And many of us aspire to catch native, wild steelhead at some point. Of all fish, you do the best to foster the ideals and interests of all anglers at all stages, from the upstart rookie to the seasoned veteran.