big pike - reindeer lake - saskatchewan
Photo: Steve Zakur

Pike thumb

An honest trade

On a early spring evening, just as the tide goes slack low, you can see bobbing headlamps on the sandbar at the mouth of a certain New England river. Packed into tight groups the anglers will be sharing stories of the outgoing. If all went well, headlamps will be focused on the roughened pads of thumbs. Lipping stripers during a good evening eventually scours the thumb to the texture of well used sand paper. The same happens on a good day of largemouth or smallmouth fishing. Bass thumb isn’t a problem, it’s a badge of honor.

maine brook trout pond
Photo: Matthew Reilly

Among brook trout and lake monsters

Mining wonder in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom

As devoted to the science of angling as I’ve become, I sometimes lament its sobering effects on the endeavor. It seems to me that installing physical definitions upon such fascinating muses as underwater ecosystems takes the romance out of spending time with a wandering mind in the company of water. Luckily, the beauty of wild things features an enigmatic mechanism for anomaly which, humans and fishermen both, have learned to mine, religiously. I’ve found New England to be thick with such a culture.

fly fishing alaska's dalton highway
Photo: M. Fairbanks

7,000 miles and on

Fly fishing Alaska's Dalton highway

We crested Atigun Pass on the Dalton Highway as the Arctic sun slid seemingly sideways across the cloudless northern sky. Before us stretched the true Arctic, that desolate swath of wind-weary, wilderness muskeg fit for no reasonable human, yet home to mankind for thousands of years.

Here, where trees don’t grow and nude, rocky peaks rise abruptly from the swampy bottoms, caribou and muskoxen wander the willows. Arctic foxes dive into leafy caverns created by ground-hugging vegetation, rangey moose boldly navigate exposed river bottoms and … a pipeline runs through it.

cracked windshield alaska highway
Photo: Chris Hunt

Windshield

Earning your damage

I debated the merits of springing for a new windshield last spring. I’d managed to accrue a handful of small-ish chips and cracks over the winter, and I’d even had a couple of the more egregious faults sealed and repaired. But it got cold during a road trip to Missoula last January, and I actually watched as a crack visibly wandered from one rock chip on the passenger side all the way across the bottom of the windshield to the rock chip on the driver’s side. There’s no patching that crap.

Photo: Matthew Reilly

Breakfast, in the Maine woods

A soujourn in the wilderness

There’s not much more peaceful than a simple breakfast amid the chirpings of an awakening northern forest. Humans, with their God-like reign over fuel, need do little more than boil water and add it to oats and coffee grounds to enjoy a meal as comfortable as one prepared in the modern home. After doing just that, on a brisk morning on a remote pond in the Maine woods, I recorded those thoughts, and reveled in the opportunity to be where I was.

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