Author Archives:

The Greenhorn

I had just threaded my line through the guides, tied on a fly, and was ready to cast when the intruder emerged from the curtain of alders below the downstream bend. In a rushed act of deceit, I hooked the fly to one of the rod’s guides, tightened the line around the reel and walked casually downstream, toward […]

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How to Catch the Biggest Brook Trout of Your Life

I don’t normally do how-to essays. My way of doing something might not be the best for everyone, so I worry about feeling bad when someone points out that there is a better way. Just the other day, though, I caught the biggest brook trout of my life. That made me feel good. Really good. And now that […]

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The Trout Will Let You Know

After Ted Williams watched three balls go by without offering the slightest evidence of a swing, the young catcher behind the plate turned and complained to the umpire. “You’re squeezing us, man.” “Listen, bud,” the umpire responded, “when your pitcher throws a strike, Mr. Williams will let you know.” That’s what I thought about as I clipped off Clarence Roberts’ […]

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Last Night I Had a Dream

Last night I had a dream. I dreamed that a three-day rain transformed a famous river into a raging torrent, and when the river finally receded my friend Mike took me fishing. I dreamed that we didn’t catch a fish the first morning, and while we ate lunch along the bank of the river I […]

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The Good Old Days

I hate graveyards and old pawn shops John Prine, “Souvenirs” The old man sat in a chair next to the picnic table, which, today, was a makeshift bar stocked with a dozen bottles of whiskey. Most were bourbon, but one was an orange-flavored liqueur and another a fifth of scotch that cost more than a […]

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Not So Bad

In 1983 John Syrgemaki shot a 400 pound black bear while hunting near his home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Still wearing a blaze-orange vest with the words DON’T SHOOT, I AM A MAN stamped across his back, John described his kill to a reporter from the region’s lone television station. “I was walkeen an hunteen deer […]

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It’s About Time

How did it get so late so soon? Dr. Suess In the time it takes our planet to complete an orbit around its sun, Mike goes fishin’ again at least 52 times. More often if possible, but he’s set the bar at an average of once a week. Many of his trips are well-planned and researched, but […]

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Marginal Water for Trout

(or How I Caught the Largest Trout of My Life) “Where can I catch a big trout?” people sometimes ask, undoubtedly mistaking me for a person who is smart enough to know and dumb enough to tell. Our subsequent dialogue normally transpires like a scene from All the President’s Men: “Follow the money.” “What do […]

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A Future Fly Fisher

But it required a few years before I perceived what a science teacher’s job really is. The goal should be, not to implant in the student’s mind every fact that the teacher knows now; but rather to implant a way of thinking that will enable the student, in the future, to learn in one year what […]

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Small Stream Sisu

Steelhead are not native to Lake Superior. They have, however, made their homes in the great lake and its tributaries since the late 1800’s. In the minds of some local anglers, this fabricated fishery is a simple two-stage process: put and take. For others, it’s a more nuanced affair. The states of Michigan, Wisconsin and […]

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Jerry’s Rod

My friend Adam—the same Adam who persuaded me to buy my first bamboo fly rod by pointing out that life is short and I could get run over by a moose tomorrow—began his note with a query that would have made my wife’s hair bristle had she read it: “Lusting after any new rods lately?” […]

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Sweetgrass Versatility

In the sprawling territory between Princeton and Cornell, a storied river cuts and bends its way through land that is as wild today as it was when John Voelker called it “a forgotten region which was virtually ignored in the westward surge of population.” The river is home to the Upper Peninsula’s native bass and […]

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