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A woodcock in the yard

Woodcock play by the rules, and we love them for it
Photo: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren / cc2.0.

Shortly after sunrise on a dank, damp, dreary first Saturday of April in Green Bay, Wisconsin, I looked out my kitchen window and saw a woodcock in our backyard. She—her size revealed her gender—was standing at the edge of a skiff of fresh snow, her pear-plump, needle-billed silhouette jumping out unmistakably from that white backdrop. I'd been on the phone with a friend who'd retired to St. Augustine, Florida, and I interrupted whatever we were chatting about to exclaim "Oh my god, there's a woodcock in the backyard!"

Two bottles

I don’t fish with people who waste the mountain air talking about work
Photo: Chad Shmukler

A few years ago, I got a job at a local exercise equipment company. Always on a quest to work off the occasional pint, I figured that I should avail myself of the on-site gym, starting on Day One. I was doing cardio and reading Northwest Fly Fishing Magazine when an older gentleman came up, introduced himself as Paul, and asked my name. After exchanging pleasantries, he allowed as my name sounded familiar and then nodding to the magazine asked if I wrote for it. I begrudgingly admitted that I had written an article, one on fishing in downtown Seattle.

Shut up and fish

Your guide is your guide for a reason
Antonio, a guide at Mexico's Palometa Club, hoists a client and guide-earned permit (photo: Chad Shmukler).

A decade or so ago, my buddy Kirk Deeter, now a colleague of mine at Trout Unlimited, flew north to Lake Athabasca for some serious late-summer pike fishing.

Deeter, in addition to being an author and the editor of TROUT Magazine, is also a fly-fishing guide, so it was interesting to watch him interact with the native Dene First Nations guides we fished with over the course of a week.

Not on my pants, not again

A totally meaningless journey down the eastern seaboard
Photo: James Joiner

"Ah man, not on my pants. Not again."

A knowing sadness weighed the voice bursting sharply from beneath the bathroom stall, startling me mid-stream. Not sure what to say or do to help, I finished depositing an afternoon of coffee and beer and made for the exit, tired from a long weekend talking fishing, wiggling fly rods, and knowingly peering at gear.

A nearby faraway

Standing outside the woods, peering into it, became ritual
Photo: Johnny Carrol Sain

“When I call to mind my earliest impressions, I wonder whether the process ordinarily referred to as growing up is not actually a process of growing down; whether experience, so much touted among adults as the thing children lack, is not actually a progressive dilution of the essentials by the trivialities of living.”

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