It had been a week since our last fishing trip. We decided that we were not going to squander the day and rather spend it back in the woods creating a great adventure. What better way than finding an East Coast canyon stream?
We headed out in hopes of large browns and beautiful views.
The trail was straight down and all I could think about was heading back out, if going down was this bad coming back out was going to be worse. Especially given my sore muscles from a week of building a deck and other various projects. I kept reminding myself that the browns would be worth it.
This body of water literally took my breath away.
It is truly one of the most amazing places I've ever been able to fish.
We set right to it, starting with nymphing large pools and switching to tiny drys with the hopes of a hatch. Eventually, we even tied on some streamers after catching one fish, a small bluegill.
We've all used the term "even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while." That term was all too true on this trip. Despite our best efforts and all our hoping, the only brown trout we managed was quite literally a blind squirrel.
It was still an adventure, still a day I wouldn't trade for anything.
River Therapy. It's a real thing.
Due to life, and "adulting," we haven't been able to get out on the river in about a week. It's been a long week. It's funny how you start to feel almost claustrophobic when you haven't hit the water in a while.
A river is simultaneously a place of calm and excitement. I've often said that it's where you forget your troubles and find yourself. For me, specifically, it's where I go to reset.
I think people are kind of like computers. Being that I'm so "organic" I know that's a strange analogy for me to make, but I truly believe it.
Life gives you so much information and emotions almost constantly, much like we give our computers. We bombard them with internet searches, photos, videos, e-mails, music, etc... You have to clean it up now and then, reset it. We aren't so different.
You have to get away from all the crap that's bogging you down, slowing you up, causing you to "quit unexpectedly." You have to find a way to turn off and try again, better, less weighed down.
Tomorrow is river therapy day and I couldn't be more ready for it.
It's supposed to be 67 degrees. It's been in the 30s at night so you know there's going to be a hatch once the sun comes out.
You fall asleep dreaming of dry flies and slurps on the surface.
You wake up worried about having the right size, color, enough because you're about over nymphing. As the sun hits the sky you hit the water. You were right, there are bugs everywhere, in so many sizes you can hardly believe it.
Just about any dry will work. You've accounted for everything, you knew exactly what the day would bring.
Or so you thought you did.
You didn't account for every other angler being on the river, too.
You assumed that the great "tourist hatch" wouldn't be happening for at least another couple of months.
Then you remember that there are going to be days like this. Sure, you can't get to your favorite hole because of a family chunking rocks in it. You can't slip into your favorite run, there's already four anglers down there. There aren't many parking spots anywhere along the river. You head around the bend, but there's already someone there. The few fish you do catch are sore lipped and hard to land, you can feel their timidness in the take.
But, your favorite hole will still be there tomorrow. That run will still be running next week. This hungry browns will hopefully still be hungry when you come back. And you will be back because let's face it, we anglers will always go back.
The past several months have been so heavy. We've been bombarded by negativity and fear from just about every outlet available.
You can't turn on your radio or tv without hearing something.
You can't open a newspaper (yes, those still exist) without reading it.
You certainly can't get on social media without being smacked in the face with it.
I'm guilty of feeding into it. For me, it's hard to find the line between standing up for what you believe in and becoming a part of the "negativity" plague.
And so, this is my attempt to remedy that.
Shoutout Saturday, my way of talking about people who are doing great, cool, positive things in the fly fishing and outdoors community.
Everything from a badass fly to important organizations, and I couldn't think of a better one to start with than Soul River.
Image Credit: Chad Brown - Soul River Blog
If you aren't acquainted with Soul River Runs Deep, you really should be.
Soul River is a hip, fashion-forward, artistically based fly fishing shop in the heart of Portland, Oregon. It's classic Portland and typical fly shop; grab some original gear, take a trip, meet some cool folks, etc..
What makes Soul River so incredible is Soul River Runs Wild, an outreach program to help "heal" inner city kids and veterans.
Chad Brown, a Navy Veteran, founded Soul River in 2013. He created a way to get these kids into the outdoors and excited about fly fishing and conservation while grabbing up other veterans to be their mentors.
These two different groups of people come together and help each other in a really beautiful way. Kids that are not "supposed" to be in the outdoors are going on camping trips, holding a fly rod and are really excelling at it!
Veterans who have been tormented by PTSD are finding a way to heal in an unconventional way.
Ultimately, the Vets are "teaching" the kids and the kids are providing these Vets with love and hope.
I'm truly inspired by this organization almost daily.
If you'd like to read more about Soul River, check out this article from Outside Magazine.
And watch this video.
And this one.
So, here's to Chad Brown for making a difference and showing us the good in the world!
Summer came early.
I woke up yesterday to 68 degrees by eight o'clock in the morning.
The birds were awake and singing their songs.
The bugs seemed to be exploding to life everywhere.
The sun shone bright and warm.
I can't lie, it was pretty nice.
But then reality set in. It's February! It's winter. There should be ice and snow, nature should be hibernating. The frozen earth should be healing herself and preparing for spring.
Yesterday, basking in the warmth of the day I began to wonder how much.
How much can we take from nature before there's nothing left to give?
We dam up her rivers, telling her we know better than she does.
We cut down her trees, convincing the world that there are so many it doesn't really matter.
Chemicals are pumped into the air and trash dumped wherever it's convenient.
Fish are taken out by the multitudes and replaced with hatchery grown biology experiments to make up for it.
We inject high pressure water into her very core, hoping to gain some oil or gas.
But one day the dams break, certain trees become extinct, the water is no longer safe, there are no more naturally occurring fish, and she literally starts breaking apart.
This isn't an environmental protest, per say, but a legitimate question I'll ask again.
How much can we take before there's nothing left?
Better yet, how much longer can we afford to take this earth for granted until we wake the hell up?
1. an exciting or very unusual experience.
2. participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises:
the spirit of adventure.
3. a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome.
4. a commercial or financial speculation of any kind; venture.
For years now, Jacob and I have used the phrase "we're on an adventure." It's been brought up driving across the country, lost, to sitting under a rock ,fishing the back-country, waiting for a thunderstorm to pass. It's been silently mouthed back and forth in the company of strangers and stranger things.
I guess maybe it's kind of our thing.
As are fishing trips with adventure being the sole reason for the outing.
This winter has been an up-and-down of temperatures. It's been winter only to return to spring two days later. I think that it's been in the sixties more than the forty's this season, but I'm not complaining. That's given us the ability to fish wild water all year, go on adventures.
I don't think I'll ever get bored with back-country trips.
I know that climbing up waterfalls and rock hopping will never get old.
I'll never tire of a six inch wild brook trout at the end of my line.
I refuse to ever be anything but adventurous.
A couple of weeks ago I received a Instagram message from She On The Fly. It came after a blog post I did for the Public Lands fight, An Open Letter to President Trump.
I was hesitant to open it. That day had brought out all sorts of emotions from a multitude of anglers, all across the board. When you write on subjects like politics, you have to be prepared for that, but I was tired and just didn't want any more negative energy.
I opened it anyway and I'm so glad I did.
It was the exact opposite of negative energy.
I'd been following She On The Fly for a few months on IG and liked the premise of featuring lady anglers and cool fishy pictures, but I found out it's so much more than that.
SOTF is on a mission to not just promote females in the world of fly fishing, but to bring them together.
There's no set "type" or category you have to fit into to be in the Collective, all these ladies are totally different. The only commonality is "living life on the fly" and the conservation of the waters and fish we love.
This appealed to me in such a deep way. There's a real sense of community and acceptance, no pressure to fit into a mold, just be you. Make lasting connections with other ladies, create memories, encourage them, teach them what you know and learn what you don't.
Basically, it's what being an angler is all about.
Image credit She On The Fly
"...In a college town you meet some writers and some fly fisherman and settle into learn the respective crafts. You've been writing since high school and fishing since before you can remember, but it turns out you know less about either than you thought you did. On the other hand, you're not entirely surprised to find that success in both disciplines depends on patience, persistence, diligence and attention to detail. These were never your strong points, but you vow to change. You publish here and there in literary magazines for bragging rights, but no money... You also manage to catch some trout. In the grand scheme of things, these are not enormous accomplishments, but they make you inordinately happy.
-John Gierach, All Fisherman Are Liars
If you've read my blog you know that the chance of losing our Public Lands has weighed heavy on me for several months now. When you spend the majority of your time in them, the fear is almost all consuming.
Earlier this week Jacob and I headed into Pisgah National Forest, as we often do, to find some productive trout water. As we wound our way around the mountains, parallel to The Davidson, I started to picture what they might do to this land. I saw little fracking huts everywhere with bare forests, stumps of trees everywhere. I saw the river, almost dried up, dead trout floating downstream. I envisioned abandoned trails and "keep out" signs. My mind travelled to "The Lorax," I saw Pisgah National Forest as the valley of the Truffula trees.
(Parents read this book to your children, it will stick with them always.)
This morning I woke up to news that Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Utah, had decided to withdraw HR621.
This morning was a small victory for all those in the Public Lands fight.
Early into our fishing trip I hooked up. The trout immediately swam straight upstream. When I got close enough to almost see him, he raced downstream, me running right after him. Then back up, then back down. I was sure the thing had to be at least sixteen inches.
He wasn't, no where close, maybe 10 if I'm measuring in fisherman standards.
This little trout had put up such a fight, in an impossible situation. If I was going to land him, I was going to have to fight just as hard as he was. It was then that I realized that it's not your size, it's the size of your fight that counts.
We didn't get nearly as much media coverage as many other groups with concerns. We didn't really have any celebrities or mighty voices shouting on our behalf, that's probably a good thing. I don't even know if we had the same numbers, but we had fight.
We had something to fight for.
The past few weeks, months, have been loud. There's been a constant flow of changes, information, confrontation, and anxiety. Granted, I'm partly to blame for this noise due to my perpetual listening to NPR; although, I very much enjoyed the piece on eating a taco everyday.
It's been getting more difficult to "quiet the noises" with the influx of negative opinions and biases formed and executed through social media. The anxiety of life had start to become so crippling (probably self inflicted) that enjoying the little things began to get difficult.
Yesterday started out that way.
I just wanted to get away, find some quiet. The river was not particularly quiet. People were out and about fishing, hiking, riding their bikes, they seemed to be everywhere, and I'm so happy they were out enjoying our National Parks, but I just really wanted some peace.
And then, it happened, the quiet came.
When it snows, the whole world gets still. There's a silence that covers everything like a giant, soft, gray blanket.
Unfortunately, none of it stuck and it didn't last more than a few hours, but it gave me that peace that I so needed.
It's funny how what you need you always receive when in nature,
whether it be a "win" and adrenaline rush or just a few hours of peace.
"Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread."
By the way, yesterday was Edward Abbey's birthday.
If you you don't know him, you need to.