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Age, pain and apologies

As we anglers age, we face unavoidable, inevitable truths
Still on the bow. For now (photo: Chad Shmukler).

I woke up one morning late last month and felt like I’d been doing sit-ups all night. Not that doing calisthenics in my sleep would necessarily be a bad thing, but the muscles in my gut had clearly been involuntarily enlisted into some sort of nocturnal enterprise, and not one I consciously approved of.

You don't want what I have

Those with questions about public lands in the West need only look east for answers
Photo: Gerry Tomasen

I know this awesome couple out in Idaho. Bruce and Kat, like many folks in Idaho, are avid users of the great outdoors. Bruce hunts elk with a bow and fishes rattlesnake infested canyons with a fly rod. They both ride fat tire bikes up and over majestic ridge lines. In a day, Kat can cross-country ski distances that I won’t drive without a bathroom break. All on public lands that are easily accessible.


This is not where you put a massive, manure-spewing industrial hog farm
The Buffalo River (photo: Johnny Carrol Sain).

I’d lamented about rained-out local creek smallmouth fishing all summer long. High water had made fish tough to find and often posed a wading hazard. But just an hour’s drive north of my home, the crystalline cool flows of the Buffalo National River resembled something closer to normal summer conditions. Ever since the fly rod — an elegant tool for a more civilized angler — found its way to my hand last fall, I’d dreamed of a trip to the iconic Buffalo River.

Seeking absolution

The catch and release debate, inside and out
The release of a wild rainbow from the Smoky Mountains (photo: Rueben Browning).

There’s a tension at the heart of fly fishing, a baffling, bulbous, gordian knot that we can’t untie with logic or reason or emotion. Yet most of us — in fact, the vast majority of us — are not even aware of the issue.


In all things, we need balance
Photo: Todd Tanner

I drove over to the West Fork late this afternoon. Molly was gone for the day, off to Idaho with her friend Elizabeth, and I’d been holed up in the house with the doors and windows shut to keep the heat - low nineties in the shade, a hundred and two outside in the direct sun - at bay.