Articles in the Category History

What Are You Working On?

It’s a question I ask of my friends and those whom I’ve just met. What are you working on? Because, whether we realize it or not, we’re all working on something.

“What do you do for a living?” is a common small-talk question. But I don’t ask that one much. I save it for later. What do you love? What are you passionate about? And what are you working on? Those are the more interesting queries that get to the core of each person.

So I’ve asked these questions for years. And it surprises me how often the answer is a blank stare. Some people simply don’t know what they love — yet. And that’s alright. Maybe they’re still searching for some passion in life. But inevitably, it’s those who light up with enthusiasm that I connect with. Tell me what you’re into. The topic hardly matters. I can listen for hours to someone who knows their craft from every angle, who understands what they love, why they care about it and what they plan to learn next.

Hardbody

I was driving a small Nissan pickup, halfway down a steep and rocky logging road, somewhere in the Pennsylvania backcountry. The truck crept down a small boulder field of mixed slate and sandstone. And the frame held solid while the suspension complained against larger obstacles. . . . That perfect, hour-long slow climb down a tram road and into the Fields Run valley was the beginning of a wonderful, memorable adventure . . .

What Does He Need?

These places change, but they are more constant than shifting, more lasting than fading. The stream that I fished as a boy every April still holds the same trout, and I follow those familiar bends upstream around rocky mountains. Fallen trees have diverted the channels enough to move the main flow twenty yards east or west, but permanence is more powerful. Here, change is minimal. And that’s comforting . . .

. . . He feels it too. And so he’s drawn to the woods, to these places larger than his small life that often seems too big. I’ve been doing the same for forty-three years . . .

. . . But what else does he need?

You Are Troutbitten

The whole thing started with four fishermen and a long email chain. That quickly became unwieldy, so Sloop and I set up a private message board for our small group of Pennsylvania anglers and titled it, Troutbitten. Each of us invited close friends — trusted fishermen — the kind of guys who could keep a secret, even after a few beers. And for a short while, a small, core group of guys called Troutbitten fished hard and shared their discoveries with one another . . .

Legendary

Legendary

Hours earlier . . .

I walked behind Dad to the river. I kept my head down through the steady morning rain, watching water drops grow on the brim of my hat and then fall in rhythm with each step forward. On a muddy side trail I followed Dad: my boot tracks into his, my wide and awkward gait to keep up, the sucking sound of mud and rubber separating with each step, and more water rushing in to fill the hole behind — then the splashing of my own half-sized boots into his full-sized tracks.

We walked until our path finally ended underneath a stand of spruce trees at the edge of the river. Dad looked back . . .

Border Collie and the Thunderstorm

Border Collie and the Thunderstorm

The border collie always sensed incoming weather before I did. Under the perfect contrast of black on white, just beneath mottled pink skin and between the ears, was a group of unknown senses, not just for the weather, but for a number of intangibles I never seemed to recognize. He tilted his head and stared at me with confusion, perhaps wondering why I couldn’t hear, smell or sense the thunderstorm before I could see it . . .

How It Started

How It Started

There was a small shop attached to the house where he tied flies and built fly rods. Everything was a mystery as I opened the screen door, but I recognize the smell of cedar once I walked in. I knew nothing about leaders, tippets, tapers or nymphs. I just knew I wanted to fish dry flies.

I was turning sixteen that summer, and the fishing had slowed — again. It always did. When the sun climbed higher and my freestone waters grew clearer with their summer flows, the minnows that I’d learned to fish so well just stopped catching trout. It happened every year, but I was old enough to be aware of the shift this time.

The Little League Series: Some Teams Are All Heart

The Little League Series: Some Teams Are All Heart

I’ll always have a soft spot for kids this age. These young boys and girls are six to eight years old and learning to be hitters, with their own coaches serving up meatballs across home plate.

They are sophisticated goofballs with only minor control over their emotions, with conditional attention spans that are sometimes ripped away by the slightest and silliest things imaginable. They’re kids.

And for many of these little people, baseball is a first chance to learn the life lessons that build strong adults: that true success is earned through hard work, that passion exceeds wishful thinking, and that teamwork is a constant compromise.

At the Little League age, heart is everything. And I’ve seen teams with half the talent take down bigger teams with twice the power through sheer will and desire — they just wanted it bad enough. Determination is contagious. Belief is addictive. And when a team buys into one another, they don’t easily let go of that belief.

The Fisherman is Eternally Hopeful

The Fisherman is Eternally Hopeful

Rich had cancer, and it was spreading fast. We both knew this was our last trip together and that a dear friendship was coming to a close.

We fished a long morning, and eventually, I worked upstream toward my friend. From thirty yards, I could see the exhaustion in his face. Rich stood where a long riffle dumped into his favorite glassy pool. He breathed a long breath and gazed at the cloudy sky. Reeling in his line and breaking down his rod, he looked at me, and we smiled. We each knew we were at the end of something . . .

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Eggs for Breakfast, Eggs for Lunch, Eggs for Dinner

Eggs for Breakfast, Eggs for Lunch, Eggs for Dinner

It was an early summer morning. Late June probably, and I was fishing my home water. Once the fog had lifted from the cold spring creek, I’d done alright. I caught enough trout to keep me moving upstream at a steady pace, hitting each pocket and every likely bank lie...

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What to Trust

What to Trust

Note: This article was published to Troutbitten in January, 2016. It's revised and revisited here today. The tall man crossed the old railroad bridge above me. He paused at the midpoint, lingered and watched me cast for a moment, then he bellowed downstream to me with...

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From Pennsylvania to Montana and Back

From Pennsylvania to Montana and Back

Early August in Montana, 2007. The afternoons burned hot, but the mornings were bitter and covered in frost. Our days swam together until neither the time nor the day of the week mattered at all. Dad and I had two weeks and more, long enough that the internal nagging and questioning about how long before all this had to end were sent away. We watched no television and kept the radio off. We visited no restaurants and no bars. With two coolers and a camper-freezer full of food, we restocked at a grocery store only once.  It’s as far away from everything and anything as I’ve ever been, for as long of a time as I’ve ever known. There were timeless, surreal moments, and they were fantastically long . . .

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Boys and Dads

Boys and Dads

I opened my eyes to full daylight. And the first sound I heard was rain in the gutter behind the bedroom window. I’ve learned to gauge the amount of rainfall by the dripping sounds of water inside an aluminum tube. Without pulling the window blind, I understood that the storm was steady. Somehow, I also knew it would continue all day.

Down the hall and on my way to the coffee pot, my nine year old son caught up to me, and with his characteristic excitement for everything in life, he asked, “Dad, can we fish today?”

I have a self-imposed rule for parenting. There are three things I always say yes to: baseball, music and fishing. When either of my boys wants to throw a ball, strum a guitar or sling a fly rod, I do everything I can to make that happen . . .

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This is Real Silence

This is Real Silence

Hatch Magazine published my story, "This is real silence." Excerpts . . . -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- . . . It can be dead silent on that mountain, quiet enough to remember a place in time with no interruptions, a day that started in a bustling, wide valley and...

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