Down by the river

Todd Tanner is old as dirt and proud of it
Angler Mike Sepelak tosses a big streamer at a logjam on the Elk River near Fernie, BC (photo: Chad Shmukler).

I’m thinking about driving up to British Columbia in the morning to sneak in a little dry fly fishing. It’s crazy, but I just can’t get Neil Young out of my head.

Old man sitting
by the side of the road
With the lorries rolling by,
Blue moon sinking
from the weight of the load
And the buildings scrape the sky,
Cold wind ripping
down the alley at dawn
And the morning paper flies,
Dead man lying
by the side of the road
With the daylight in his eyes.

I don’t know why — I don’t listen to music on the river — but as I’ve grown older, my music and my fishing have grown more connected, to the point where I don’t feel quite right walking in to that little side channel on the Missouri, or road-tripping to the Henrys Fork, or driving up to Fernie to fish the Elk, unless the music has me ready for what’s about to happen.

Some folks want a perfect breakfast to start the day. Others want that perfect cup of coffee. In my case, I want music that’s going to put me in the right mood, that’s going to leave me humming, that’s going to synch with the rhythm of the river and take me to a space where I can’t help but fish with joy and passion.

So I’m going to do something a little unusual. I’m going to share tomorrow’s song list. Just the last ten, for when I’m across the border and driving through those incredibly huge British Columbia mountains. You’ll notice that things start out pretty loud and then start to mellow — which is just the way it should be, at least from my perspective. What do you think?

Alice in Chains: Rooster
AC/DC: For Those About To Rock
Focus: Hocus Pocus
Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter
Black Crowes: Remedy
The Police: Roxanne
Led Zeppelin: Going To California
Grateful Dead: Ripple
Neil Young: Don’t Let It Bring You Down
Bob Marley: Redemption Song

And more importantly, if you were on the road tomorrow, heading out to fish, what would you have cranking in your rig?


a few summer's ago we were breaking in a buddies new drift boat on the colorado river. we'd hit it a little too hard the evening before. the drive to the river was pretty quiet, not wanting too much extraneous noise to add to the throbbing temples. a few hours down river we hit the yarmody rapid and got stuck on a rock, watching the boat almost fill up with water. we made it off and upon pulling over a hundred yards downstream to assess the damage, the oarsman said "i ALWAYS listen to eric clapton and jj cale's ride the river before a river trip, and we didn't today..." never again.

You had me till Roxanne.

Jack Johnson : Bubbles
G Love & the Special Sauce: Georgia Brown
JJ Gray: Lochaloosa
White Buffalo: One Lone Night
Joe Purdy: Outlaws
Josh Abbott Band: She's Like Texas
Casey Donahew Band: Twelve Gauge Shotgun
Foo Fighters: What Did I do
James McMurtry: No More Buffalo
Jason Isbell: Different Days
Janes Addiction: Rock & Roll from XXX
Sam Cooke: Bring it on Home from Live at Harlem Square (Opening Scene of ALI)
Entire Ryan Adams and Willie Nelson Discographies.

Old songs:
Tears for Fears: "Trout, Trout, Fish 'em all out..."
Or for the evening hatch, how about Dio's "Like A Rainbow in the Dark"? Too spot-on?

Very good list. I personally would just add several songs. Always found the start to a good road trip deserves Bruce Springsteen's Cadillac Ranch and Bob Seeger's live version of Nutbush City Limits. Both songs have always served me well getting on the road and stoked headed to spring skiing in Tuckerman's Ravine since 1981. We used to make mix tapes for special events, but most of my contempories seems to not bother going through the process anymore.