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22 of 52

Another year has passed, and passed too quickly. I suppose the upcoming year will go by even faster. I’ve been fortunate, lucky and very humbled the past 365 days. To continue to see and capture the world through my own eyes is a dream turned reality.

Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard on location in the remote Andes Mountains for an upcoming conservation film titled “Finding Fontinals” (photo: Bryan Gregson).

I lived out of packs for 22 of the 52 weeks that I attempted to live. I observed many things outside the small box I live in. The more I travel the more I realize how much I take for granted, how much I really don’t know, how much I don’t need, how much time I waste on the meaningless, how many stereotypes are wrong, how many insignificant things are given great value too, and how much a single drop of water is worth.

I grew and I made too many mistakes along the way. I learned the hard way more than I’d like to admit. I was taught lessons. I could have been more compassionate, caring and understanding. I could have used my voice to be heard a little louder. I lost too many friends and too many loved ones.

The Unbelievable Rainbow Wrasse

I have noted to more folks than I can count that I find trout -- a grouping I casually expand, solely for the purposes of that discussion, to include most salmon and char -- to be indisputable as the most beautiful fish in the world. For most of the year, trout and salmon exhibit a streamlined, understated elegance and beauty that I've scarcely, if ever, seen matched elsewhere. And when spawning season comes around, they put on a show. It truly is hard to imagine fish more beautiful than the likes of the Alaskan leopard rainbow, a brook trout in full spawning colors and so on.

That is, until you see the rainbow wrasse.

Christmas Island Rainbow Wrasse
A Christmas Island rainbow wrasse (photo: Earl Harper, Harper Studios).

Add in the fact that wrasse can be taken on the fly and they become even more alluring. The wrasse pictured above was caught off the beaches of Christmas Island, which lures anglers from far away -- given that virtually everything is far away from Christmas Island -- to chase bonefish and giant trevally.

'Twas the Day Before Christmas

Editor's note: Our Mike Sepelak has made an annual tradition of sharing on his always entertaining and well-read blog, Mike's Gone Fishin', his home waters version of Clement Clarke Moore's famous poem, which Mike calls as "awful as Grandma's fruitcake and Uncle John's reindeer tie." This year, Mike's has offered to pass on his holiday habit of "squeez[ing] in a holiday post without having to actually work for it" to us, and we're inclined to accept, awfulness and all.

Backcountry Weather
Photo: Justin Hamblin.
'Twas the day before Christmas and down on the Haw
Not a fish was arisin', the weather was raw.
The water was frigid and brisk was the air,
Too chilly for fishin', but I didn’t care.

The Ultimate Fly Fishing Gift: Patagonia

Been struggling to find just the right gift for the angler that has everything? Well, search no longer. Give the gift of Patagonia. Heck, for the price of a fly rod (if you're into really scarce, antique bamboo, that is), you can send your favorite angler on the trip of a lifetime, with us, when we head to Patagonia this April.

Patagonia's Malleo River
Patagonia's Malleo River (photo: Matt Jones).

Yes, that's intentionally a bit tongue-in-cheek. Fly fishing vacations aren't the sort of thing you toss under the tree in a box. But, if you've got Patagonia pegged high on your list of dream travel destinations -- and we've yet to meet an angler for which it doesn't -- you'll want to learn more about what we've got in store this April.

Our Most Read Articles of 2014

Each year, around this time, we take a look back to see which of our articles are read the most. Not only does it give us a great deal of insight into what our readers value, it's a lot of fun and there are always a few surprises in the mix. The three articles that follow reached more people in more places than everything else we submitted for your review this past year.

12 Dry Fly Fishing Tips

On Top: 12 Tips for Catching More, Bigger and More Difficult Fish on Dry Flies

Articles about tips and technique are almost always popular. For the most obvious of reasons -- we all want to catch more fish -- an angler that isn't fairly insatiable about learning is a rare one. Even the shortest tidbit about angling tactics and strategy can offer the potential for big changes in fishing success, and so most anglers are eager to lay their eyes on as much educational material as they can.

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