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Fly fishing through a pandemic

In times of turmoil, should we even be talking about fly fishing?
Fly fishing—especially in remote locations like this one—can help us decompress and de-stress during these trying times, not to mention help us soak up much needed Vitamin D-fueling sunlight. But, if you head out, be sure to respect all social distancing measures recommended by local, regional and national authorities (photo: Chad Shmukler).

The world is changing all around us. March Madness was cancelled. The NBA season was suspended. So was the remainder of spring training and the beginning of the Major League Baseball season. Schools are closed. Grocery stores are having a hard time keeping goods on the shelves. (Good luck finding hand sanitizer or toilet paper.) Meanwhile, anything approaching a normal life has disappeared in Europe, where Italy and France are locked down and modern medical facilities are being overwhelmed by the global pandemic.

Winter surf fishing

Finding warm water fishing while winter still clings
Photo: Tom Hazelton

I needed to get out fishing. A February thaw was taking a bite out of the Northern Michigan snowpack. A wide sheet of water, recently roof-snow, hung in front of the office windows, glittering like a million falling diamonds in the unseasonable afternoon sun. A small river had cut a ravine through the hard-packed ice in the parking lot, and twisted into a dangerous-looking vortex over the storm drain.

The tiger trout takeover

Are frankenfish what we want swimming in our backcountry fisheries?
Photo: Spencer Durrant

The creek looked like something pulled out of a wilderness designer’s catalogue. It snaked through a sweeping meadow valley, each turn revealing deep undercut banks and plenty of hiding spots for trout. Rocks peppered about half the runs, giving me a mix of pools, riffles, and pocket water, in which I knew were cutthroat eager to smack a dry fly.

Winter midges

The smallest things can reveal a river's biggest surprises
Photo: Rueben Browning

Within a minute of leaving the truck, I regretted the extra layers I’d added at the last second. Sure, it was cold, but the snow was waist deep. The exertion of moving through the landscape warmed me up plenty. More than necessary, probably, since I felt my extra layers trapping too much moisture against my skin. But I wasn’t about to head back to the truck and change.

Looking ahead

Before society can move forward, we need to develop a shared vision for the future
Photo: Swithun Crowe / cc2.0.

When I was a young boy, seemingly immune to my mother’s constant focus on all things neat and proper, I spent my summers mucking around in the swamp behind our house. As swamps go, ours was neither large nor particularly dangerous, boasting not one single crocodile, alligator, poisonous snake or patch of quicksand. To be absolutely candid it was a small swamp, and its most perilous (if you could call them that) denizens were snapping turtles and water snakes, either of which might decide to give you a nip if you happened to stick a finger or toe in the wrong place.