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.

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 —...

Hatch Matcher

Hatch Matcher

It was the summer before college. Before the real world started, they said — although college life never proved to be anything like the rest of the world. I was working for a printing company, spending three hot months in a delivery truck, shuttling press orders to...

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #3 — Fish New Waters

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #3 — Fish New Waters

I’m a wanderer. On the water, I’d rather explore a new section of river than visit a familiar one — almost always. There’s excitement and an expectation of the unknown in and around every trout stream. I’ve found too many remarkable things around the bend to expect...

Kinda Slow

Kinda Slow

I was either born or raised with an abundance of fishing optimism.

. . . No matter the situation, I have an ability to regroup and believe in big possibilities again. Within a few hours of making it home and saying to my sons, “It was kinda slow,” I’m ready for more. After a bowl of cereal and a few talks with friends, after a couple flies tied with something just a little different than last time, I always find a reason to believe the next trip will be better . . .

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You’re in too Far Now

You’re in too Far Now

That large tail waved goodbye, and a sturdy wild brown trout slid back into the flow. It was a good fish for this river, and I texted a couple pictures to Burke — just to remind him that I was fishing and he wasn’t. This is what we do to each other.

I must’ve been a little too gleeful and gloating — chuckled with a little too much gusto when I hit send, maybe — because on the next cast, instant karma sent my leader and flies into the sycamores. And so began the twenty minutes of foolishness that followed . . .

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We watched daylight race the river downstream …

We watched daylight race the river downstream …

We added to the memories of a year gone by. A gray winter day with little sun and a lot of wind provided the last page in a final chapter — the last casts of 2016. And we watched daylight race the river downstream.

The best thing about a float is seeing miles of water as if in one frame. It’s like a filmstrip that you can take out and hold in your mind for a while. If you’ve done this long enough, then every rock around every bend carries a memory. The best island channels hold a group of those stories and offer them up as you float by. It’s a photo album: the river is a flowing film of your best and worst times on the water — moment by moment passing by. And if you’re lucky, you might create a new highlight for the reel . . .

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Anything at Anytime | Meet Honey Bunny

Anything at Anytime | Meet Honey Bunny

I approach from downstream, making daring casts into the brush pile, probing a dark network that's shaped by collected seasons of tangled roots and half trees. A heavy current crashes into the pile and is redirected outward, and I wade into the bottom part of that...

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The Secret

The Secret

I poked through the dense brush, shed my pack and dropped it in the clearing. In a yellow patch of sunlight, I knelt to catch my breath and watched the wind detach leaves from their parent branches, pushing them into a wild collage across the morning sky and traveling faster downwind to find a place of rest for the coming winter.   

This place is rough. It’s the kind of spot that doesn’t get much traffic from anyone — home only to the squirrels and birds. The best method of navigating through the thick stuff is to find a deer trail. I did that, but when I crested the hillside and started my descent, the path closed in with newly fallen trees, and I was forced to make my way through a maze of dead branches and briers which had quickly sprouted, taking advantage of the sun after the tree fell. I moved forward slowly, but the branches grabbed at my coat to hold me back, as if protecting the river below.

There are two kinds of secret places, I suppose: one that’s truly tucked away somewhere unknown, and one that lies right underneath the fishermen’s noses. This place harbors a little of both . . .

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Peace In the Valley

Peace In the Valley

Dad and I didn't set up camp in our usual spot. For as long as I can remember, we’ve chosen primitive, state forest lands rather than campgrounds. It’s quieter, and there’s more of a sense that you’re truly getting away from everything for a while. But this year the...

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