One of the last great wild landscapes in the American southeast is still in peril thanks to a fall settlement between the company that wants to mine on the edges of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge for heavy-mineral sands and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Some years ago, when I was just a bit younger than I am now, another fly fishing guide and I were fishing a well-known Montana creek right before run-off. He was using nymphs, while I was casting a dry fly. We split up for a bit, then met up and compared notes. I was doing pretty well, but he wasn’t having much luck. Then he mentioned that he didn’t think there were many trout around.
It’s not just a fishing trip. Remember that. There will be plenty of fishing, but it’s not just a fishing trip.
As I gazed out over the deep, dark water of southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage from the observation deck of the Liseron, a refurbished military minesweeper that now serves as an intimate touring ship that navigates the fjords between Juneau and Sitka, these were the words I kept silently reciting.
It’s not just a fishing trip. It’s an experience.
Many people—including some who ought to know better—call Michigan’s Upper Peninsula a winter wonderland. But with two feet of snow on the ground in late April, my only wonder is why I still live here. In much the way a puppy accedes to the leash, I’ve come to accept March as a winter month. But April is supposed to be spring. Major League Baseball opened its season three weeks ago—even in Chicago and Milwaukee—and if I have to take one more strike standing in the snow with the bat on my shoulder, I will undoubtedly lose my Dodge Ram mind.
When I tell my wife about the mastodon tracks in our backyard, she hides the sharp knives and suggests I drive south to find open water in the temperate climate of Wisconsin. I would never deliberately manipulate her in this way, but when my subconscious plays a game with fishing as the prize, I don’t hold up the stop sign. Instead, I wave it around third and toward home with the exaggerated windmill motion of an excessively excited coach.
Between now and the end of the year, recreational anglers who fish in the salt have a chance to influence the management practices employed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as it works to update the National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy.