Category Archives: Fish Tales

How to Catch the Biggest Brook Trout of Your Life, Again

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana The first time I caught the biggest brook trout of my life, I was so excited that I felt compelled to write a how-to essay called—boldly enough—How to Catch the Biggest Brook Trout of Your Life. Although I thought I was doing […]

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He Was After Walleye

Catch and release is a difficult thing to explain to someone who has never thought about catching a fish with a deliberate plan to release it. Opposable thumbs and a three-pound brain have enabled us to invent spectacular and efficient ways to feed ourselves, and some people can’t understand why other people use those methods […]

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A Modern Angler in Judge Voelker’s Court

A lone fair-weather cloud in an otherwise blue sky was the first thing Josh recognized when he regained consciousness. The familiar sounds and smells of the river came next. Then, gradually, he began to remember the missteps that had caused his awkward fall. Josh would have drowned if the old fisherman hadn’t pulled him from the […]

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Growing Older But Not Up

Much of the fun of getting to know a new fishing buddy is the slow and pleasant process of asking questions about their life and answering questions about yours. Where’d you grow up? What do you do for a living? If you could have any superpower, what would it be? That’s the routine Tom and I […]

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Sincerity

Sincerity—if you can fake that, you’ve got it made. Attributed to many. Those of us who relentlessly pursue large trout with a dry fly are hopeless addicts. If we weren’t, we’d take up easy chores like curing cancer, ending world poverty, or explaining how long forever is. The essence of our addiction is uncomplicated: When we see a good trout rising, […]

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Everything’s Amazing and These Guys Are Happy

Everything is amazing right now and nobody’s happy. Louis C.K. The modern marvel of flight transports us from New York to San Francisco in under six hours, but—as Louis C.K. observed in his brilliant comedic rant—a twenty minute delay on the airport apron is an occurrence we remember for its extraordinary cruelty. Humankind’s spectacular escape from the Malthusian trap has […]

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Why I Let Them Go

When someone asks why I release nearly every fish I catch, I have a friend who says “Tim likes to play with his food.” I didn’t always do it this way. Much like Howell Raines, I was schooled in the Redneck Way. Sure, fishing was fun, but a bucket full of bluegills proved that I […]

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Fishing with a Worm

Bliss Perry was a pioneer in the teaching of American literature. He taught at Williams, Princeton and Harvard, and edited the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others. But I wouldn’t know anything about Professor Perry if he hadn’t written a book called Fishing with a Worm. His short book—published in 1916—begins with an indictment […]

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It Looked Like He Knew What He Was Doing

I have a friend who casts a fly for neither distance nor accuracy nor stealth. Aside from those limitations, he’s a splendid fisherman. It’s not for lack of strength or dexterity or intellect. Warren is a farm boy from Catawba, Wisconsin, and he has the farm-boy frame you’d expect: bone, muscle and gristle. He learned […]

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Keith

Two recent deaths in my family sent me searching through old boxes and files for a photogragh someone took during a camping trip in southern Illinois sometime around 1970. My obsession worsened for about a month until the person most affected by those deaths sent me a scanned version of the photograph. The man with a child in […]

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Secrets

Fishermen acquire the talent. They start out lying to themselves and, before they know it, they’re lying to anyone who’ll listen.             – Paul Quinnett The latin word for witness is testis, which—according to ancient lore—arose because male Romans testifying in court were required to place one hand over their “jewels” as they swore to tell the truth, the whole […]

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Trophies

When my friend Jerry invited me to join him, Chad, James and Tim for a couple days on the Trophy Waters of the Au Sable River, I worried that I would be out of place in this group of tremendously talented writers and artists. But just as I’ve come to know Jerry to be, these guys are […]

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