Articles With the Tag . . . Memories

Sight and Feel

While all five senses blend together into the rich, unmatched experience of fishing through woods and water, only two are necessary for catching trout — sight and feel. These two senses combine to tell us a story about each drift. Some of our tactics require both, while others require just one. But take away both sight and feel, and the angler is lost . . .

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 . . .

Patience vs Persistence

A good angler doesn’t need patience. He needs persistence.

I forget who said this to me, and for that I apologize. But the message has endured. It’s a guiding theme for me, not just on the water, but in everyday life. The distinction between the two states of patience and persistence is a maxim that carries over, well beyond the river.

In some ways they are opposites. Patience is waiting for something to happen. And persistence is making something happen.

Over time, patience has been pinned to fishing, as if the two go hand in hand. And I think that’s a mistake. It’s an attached stigma that doesn’t fit — not for Troutbitten anglers, anyway . . .

The shakes, and why we love big trout

. . When I hooked him, I felt a tremendous release of emotion. Satisfaction merged with adrenaline. My yearning for such a moment finally came to a close as the big wild brown trout slid onto the bank. I killed the trout with a sharp rap at the top of its skull, because that’s what I did back then. I knelt by the river to wet my creel, and when I placed the dead trout in the nylon bag, the full length of its tail stuck out from the top.

. . . Then I began to shake. The closing of anticipation washed over me. The fruition of learning and wondering for so many years left me in awe of the moment I’d waited for. I trembled as I sat back on my heels. With two knees in the mud of a favorite trout stream, I watched the water pass before me. I breathed. I thought about nothing and everything all at once. I felt calm inside even as I stared down at my wet, shaking hands.

. . .When a gust of wind pushed through the forest, I stirred. Finally my lengthy revery was passed, and I stood tall with my lungs full of a strong wind. Then I walked back to camp . . .

Back to Basics — Back to Buggers

Back to Basics — Back to Buggers

Bill texted me at 2:00 pm. “How’s the fishing, and where should we meet?” he wrote. The chilly April day was changing from perfectly cloudy and drizzly to a pure washout. More of the darkening sky slid over the horizon as I hustled back to the truck. Patches of heavy...

It’s Not the Same

It’s Not the Same

** Note: This February 2016 story is revised and revisited here today. Sawyer skidded the truck sideways a little and pulled the e-brake as we lurched to a stop in the fly shop parking lot. He looked at me and grinned. "Be right back," he yelled, and he jogged up the...

Winter Welcome Home

Winter Welcome Home

Author's Note: I first published this to Troutbitten in the winter of 2016. This past week I had a day so strikingly similar that I had to dig this one up. I edited a few things and added some pictures from the latest trip.  God, I love the winter. I slammed my...

The further you walk, the more you leave behind

The further you walk, the more you leave behind

I wrote an article about the pleasure of solitude and the distances we'll go to get there. It's titled "The further you walk the more you leave behind," and it's available at this Hatch Magazine link. Here are a few excerpts: ... This should be early enough, but you...

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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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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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I want to, but I don’t want to

I want to, but I don’t want to

My favorite eight-year-old looked at me exasperated, with his signature furrowed brow and troubled eyes. He animated the short speech with both hands and turned up the volume on his words. “Well Dad, I want to, but I don’t want to.”  Ahhh yes. That’s my son, because I’ve felt like that my whole life.

His tortured answer was a reply to my easy question: “Should we fish today?” But life decisions are hard for a boy so full of ideas and new plans for each day. I know it. I feel it. I remember it.

At that age, I hadn’t yet learned about the bargains we make with time — that we may do this thing now and the other thing later, accepting that upon fruition the second thing may be only half as grand as we’d hoped, if only because it wasn’t done first. These decisions are desperate when you’re eight years old.

He’s stuck right in the middle of two eras — old enough that the adults aren’t regulating every facet of his life, and yet not quite adept at wielding the freedom of choice. It’s overwhelming sometimes. I see it. I get it. I remember it . . .

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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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