Articles With the Tag . . . friendship

Local Knowledge

You know the water level, clarity, the hatches, weather and more. That’s great. But local conditions are different from local knowledge. Here’s what I mean . . .

How to stay in the fly fishing game for a lifetime

I know what the game of chasing trout has given me. For over forty years, I’ve had a wonderful purpose, a focus, endless challenges, and a reason to set my feet on wooded, watery paths often enough to call these places home . . .

Fishing is as big as you want it to be. From the beginning, I’ve been in it for the long game. And in the end I plan to wade upstream, toward the light at the end of the tunnel.

Coffee and Secrets

I wasn’t quite sure why I’d asked the kid if he fished in the first place. But there was something about him that compelled me to share. And here I was, about to give up a guarded secret.

“Do you have a piece of paper back there?” I asked. “I’ll show you something . . .”

Smith and the Tree

Right on time, Smith’s signature worn-out ball cap crested the hill on the north side of the gravel pull off. When his full frame came into view, I motioned to the propane grill and smiled with a nod. It was preheated. Resting on a large chunk of limestone, I had the portable grill ready for meat. When Smith approached, I handed my friend a beer without a word. Glass chimed and we nodded again.

This is what I like about Smith: We planned for noon, and he’s so reliable that I knew it was worth lighting the propane at 11:50 . . .

How to stay in the fly fishing game for a lifetime

How to stay in the fly fishing game for a lifetime

I meet a lot of anglers who used to fish. Some of them were die hard, passionate and persistent, often for many years or even decades. But somehow and in some way they gave it up. Maybe fishing was pushed aside for other interests or responsibilities, or maybe they...

Coffee and Secrets

Coffee and Secrets

The clerk at the convenience store seemed frustrated. No doubt, he’d had a long shift, punctuated by the challenges of a demanding late-night crowd after the bars let out. He’d probably built a dozen gas station subs and dunked cheeses, meats and sliced potatoes into...

Smith and the Tree

Smith and the Tree

Right on time, Smith’s signature worn-out ball cap crested the hill on the north side of the gravel pull off. When his full frame came into view, I motioned to the propane grill and smiled with a nod. It was preheated. Resting on a large chunk of limestone, I had the...

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...

Some days are diamonds — Some days are rocks

Some days are diamonds — Some days are rocks

Austin and I left at dawn. We crossed the wide river at a tailout and entered a dense forest of hemlock and sycamore trees. Walking through dew and morning shadows, we quietly moved downstream toward a favorite, brushy island section for one final fishing trip.

Austin graduated from Penn State a few days before our trip last week, and he’s moving to North Carolina next week. And while many farewells are accompanied by a sincere “I’ll be back soon,” neither of us were willing to tell each other that lie. Sure, life may bring Austin back sooner than later, or ten years from now I may be talking about a good friend whom I miss and haven’t seen for a decade. It’s hard to predict.

I like that. A good life is unpredictable. If you have enough lines in the water, something unexpected is bound to happen. We might label those events good or bad, but I for one am happy for the variety. I’m glad this life is full of surprises.

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Jeff’s Chicken

Jeff’s Chicken

In his mid-twenties, my friend Jeff walked away from his job to be a trout bum for a few months. It was a bold move, but a strategic one. Jeff had enough funds saved up to float him from late spring all the way into the fall, and he simply wanted to hang out, drink beer and catch trout for a while.

Some people hike the Appalachian trail. Others take a year after school to travel across Canada or maybe backpack through Europe, if you have that kind of money. Jeff just wanted to fish the hell out of Central Pennsylvania and be a trout bum for once. So that’s what we did.

At the time, my own lifestyle was pretty flexible. I’d already spent five or six years exploring Central and North-Central Pennsylvania during the day and playing music in clubs and bars at night. Gas was cheap then, and it was nothing for me to wake at dawn and travel north for a hundred miles.

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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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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #35 — How to Fish With Friends

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #35 — How to Fish With Friends

Fishing with a stick and line is a solitary endeavor by nature. It always comes down to the two hands of one angler: one on the rod, and the other in control of the line. Sharing the water with friends is great, but fishing, inherently, is not a team sport. It’s more like pole vaulting than a baseball game. It comes down to individual performance. And at its root, fishing is just a contest between one man and a fish.

. . . But we fish together to share our experiences, to learn from one another, to catch up with old friends and make new ones. We choose to fish together because the bonds formed on a river are like none other, and because flowing water and shared moments can heal friendships and mend grievances . . .

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The Dirty Fisherman

The Dirty Fisherman

I walked around the bend and saw his blue truck, but I couldn’t see Gabe until the lean man sat up. He stretched and slid slowly off the tailgate, onto his feet and into his sandals. The climbing sun made the blue paint of his pickup bed too hot, and when the shadows were gone, the dirty fisherman’s rest was finished.

Gabe leaned back on the hot paint again and grabbed the duffel that he used for a pillow. The faded bag was stuffed with clothes: some stained, some clean, and most half-worn-out. He pulled a thin, long-sleeved shirt from the bag and changed, tossing his wet t-shirt toward a damp pile of gear by the truck tires. The long sleeves were his sunscreen; the beard protected his face; the frayed hat covered his head, and the amber sunglasses filled the gap in between.

Gabe was a trout bum. Not the shiny magazine-ad version of a trout bum either, but the true embodiment of John Geirach’s term: authentic, dirty, and dedicated to a lifestyle without even thinking much about it. He fished on his own terms. He was a part-time fishing guide for the family business and a part-time waiter. We never talked much about work, though. I just know that Gabe’s life was fishing, and everything else was a cursory, minor distraction.

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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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