Articles With the Tag . . . Discovery

Grandfather

He didn’t fish. He hunted. Wandering over wooded mountains, and whispering through the wheat fields, I followed my grandfather into a broken forest. We climbed over long oaks, and we scaled fallen hemlock trunks to reach the other side of a small stream. My footsteps fell into his. He walked slowly — much slower than a boy’s patience could match. And when my eagerness overtook me, Grandfather turned to force my pause. He leaned in and granted me this wisdom: “Slowly, child. Life’s secrets are in these trees.”

He was gone before my sons were born.

And now, when I enter these forests, these forgotten tramps, miles away from industry and deep inside shaded canyons, the wet moss absorbs my footfalls and silences the mental rush of an average life. These muted and hushed moments are given for remembering . . .

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

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

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.

Legendary

Legendary

Because I couldn't fight back the tears, I turned away. Because I'd never had a moment where I felt such immediate loss, I surrendered to the defeat. The emotion was too big for a ten year old boy, and I fell apart. — — — — — — Hours earlier . . . I walked behind Dad...

Border Collie and the Thunderstorm

Border Collie and the Thunderstorm

The border collie sensed incoming weather before I did. Under the contrast of black on white, 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...

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...

Right Here

Right Here

I guess I’ve been searching for something. For months now, I’ve spent my time on the water fishing progressively more remote locations. Turning down offers to float and cast over abundant wild brown trout on our major rivers, I thought I was looking for solitude. What...

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.

I was fishing a large parachute ant, moving quickly and covering a lot of water, as was my habit on Clover Run in those days. And in the right months it was a tactic that brought at least one chance to catch and release a really good fish. But on that morning I hadn’t caught much of anything, so I threw a couple careless, hopeless casts into the glide ahead of me as I waded the last thirty yards toward my friend.

“Put a few casts to that bank,” Rich said, and he gestured toward a shallow piece of side water next to the riffle where he was standing.

With not much cover on the bank for a trout, and with the sun poking through the clouds at midday, I didn’t have any hope.

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Angler Types in Profile: The Rookie

Angler Types in Profile: The Rookie

I’m consistently surprised by the lack of river sense that’s missing in so many anglers. I mean that literally and not condescendingly. Just as a city kid marvels at the sight of deep darkness on a moonless night, fifty miles deep into a state forest, the country boy doesn’t give it a second thought. It’s experience. And that’s all it is.

People who are new to fishing just don’t know much about rivers. And I never really get used to that. Because so much of what a river does, and what fish do in response, is organic to me. I grew up fishing and playing in small streams. As a kid, I was drawn to every runoff ditch within walking or biking distance. I couldn’t stay away. And like anything else, you grow into your surroundings. I don’t think that can be changed, whether we’d like it to be or not.

Anyway, those without that same history with rivers see the water differently, and sometimes I have trouble remembering it.

On a cool April morning, Sam and I hit the water with all his new gear . . .

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Fishing Alone

Fishing Alone

I swear I fish best when I’m alone. I can’t prove it without a witness, of course, but I guess I don’t care to verify it anyway . . . and that’s the point.

In what seems like another lifetime ago, I fished the mountain streams alone and often, and I miss it now. In daydreams, I sift through memories of small water, the infinite brown-green variations of spruce and ferns, moss and bedrock. I see the variance of shadows oscillating in the wind among tree branches and impeding the passage of sunlight, from the deepest blacks to the hazy flickering shade marbling a maple leaf canvas on the forest floor, with its fresh but dying colors of fall. I miss the brookie streams.

Fishing mountain water is how I first defined my fishing self, and I long for that adventure and discovery again. I guess I stopped fishing the mountain water once my life became more about other people and less about me: marriage, a real job, kids. I had more time before all that, more days for dedicating to the miles and efforts it takes to reach lonesome places, to fish a while and then just walk back out . . .

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Respect the spots, man!  | A fisherman’s thoughts on friendship and spot burning

Respect the spots, man! | A fisherman’s thoughts on friendship and spot burning

There are two ways to tell the experience of an angler: how he holds a fish and how he keeps his secrets. The latter is probably more important.

My secrets aren’t your secrets. The places and dreams that I find sacred and worthy of protection are likely much different than your own. Among good friends, though, the respect for another’s treasure is given. It’s hard to find a good fishing partner who yields to this tenet — to find a friend who will protect your secrets like his own — because secrets are a burden to carry, and most choose to shed that weight and give up a prize that isn’t theirs.

So we come to accept that holding secrets is a lonely affair, and that’s okay for me and the other introverts — of which I think the majority of the fishermen’s gene pool is comprised. It’s the damned extroverts that you have to be wary of. It’s the gregarious guy whose off-hand remarks about a river can sink the best of spots.

As most of us quickly realize, good fishing friends are hard to come by . . .

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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #4 — Fish Familiar Waters

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #4 — Fish Familiar Waters

When I was a boy, I dreamed of having a trout stream close enough to walk to. It was my greatest wish. I now have Bellefonte, Pennsylvania’s Spring Creek just a short hike out the back door. It’s a remarkably consistent river, the kind you should never be skunked on —...

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