Tell Me A Story


Word on the skreet is that Providence (by Confluence Films, trailer above) has taken home a few of The Drake Flyfishing Video Awards. The awards are well deserved, but the one that strikes me as most appropriate is that it won Best Story. I think there’s a lesson here.

I’ve followed the fly fishing film phenomenon since the beginning, and we have seen some absolute gems. Running Down the Man felt like one of those adventurous yet attainable ski films that leaves you longing for new destinations. I remember that same sort of feeling I always got watching good climbing films. There was Low and Clear, a film that brought the people to the front of the stage. The fish were just the x-ray glasses that revealed the characters. More recently, A Deliberate Life proved that point to perfection. It was on a steelhead trip to NY that Matt Smythe, a friend of mine and the writer of A Deliberate Life, first showed me the film. I remember not quite being sure how to react and hoping that a smile would give cover to the tear forming in my eye. I think I mustered a simple “well done,” but I know that wasn’t sufficient.

Good films, even those ostensibly about something as trivial as fly fishing, tell a good story. It can be a story about dam removal or personal reflection; the details don’t much matter.

We’ve turned a corner, though, in the films that make it to the top. I have to think that production budgets now exceed those of B-movie horror films, and in many cases the exotic destinations stand in for compelling characters. The good films to me, though, are those that don’t let the scenery overwhelm the tale itself, and Providence does that for me.

Unless you carry gravel in your voice like Jim Harrison or somehow find a way to draw blood with your words like Tom McGuane, leave the four-minute opening pontifications to the side. The dirtbag chronicles are exciting, but they don’t last. The ones that stick, the films that I watch and rewatch, are always the films that are first driven by the story.

I’ve Got That Old Feeling



T minus 3 weeks.

I’m deep in countdown mode again – three weeks until Belize. Three weeks until tropical sun, that familiar salt air, and, if I’m lucky, a few fish.

I need a vacation. A new job has meant less time on the water; it seems funny that the more time you spend in this business, the harder it becomes to actually get out and fish. I suppose that’s just the trade-off that must be made, and I always enjoy the time I do get to spend on the water regardless of the outcome.

If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be in San Pedro by noon and on a bonefish or two that afternoon. There will surely be a few rum drinks in there somewhere, too. Then, we’ll see what the next few days hold.

So, I’ll be counting down the days and making large red X’s on the calendar in my mind. I’ll go through the usual packing and repacking, and I’ll tie more flies that I’ll ever use. After all, the anticipation is second only to the experience.

More Bad News For Atlantics


I don’t suppose we should be surprised, but the finalized population estimates from the Atlantic Salmon Federation for 2016 look even worse than expected. I’ll leave it to you to read the details, but the fact that their estimates indicate 27% fewer fish returned to North American Rivers in 2016 than in 2015 should give you some idea of the peril these populations face.

SCOF: Good Books


I’m nearing the end of Douglas Brinkley’s The Wilderness Warrior, and I feel compelled to share this one with you for a number of reasons. Before I get into that, however, I feel as though you should be forewarned. Coming in just short of a thousand pages, this one might take you a while. Chronicling the conservation work of Teddy Roosevelt through both the formative upbringing and the implementation itself, I’ve come away with a new appreciation for our twenty-sixth president. It’s long, but it’s worth your time.

The Wilderness Warrior seems especially important in our current environment. After the wildlife decimation of the nineteenth century, it was TR, along with men like Pinchot and Burroughs, who laid the foundation for the good old days of wildlife that many of us were born into. While so many are begging to undo the work that TR helped start, I can’t help but think that reading this book will allow all of us understand what it is we are fighting for and why it is so important that even small concessions must not be allowed.

It might be hard for non-hunters to understand the mindset of a man like TR, and I can see the seeming contradictions. The truth at the time, and still today, is that sportsmen are the greatest defenders of wildlife. We are the greatest force for conservation that exists. Roosevelt had a hand in creating over two hundred million acres of public land, and many today seem intent on undoing his accomplishments. While reading a book of this size might seem like a TR-sized task itself, I can’t recommend it enough.

Read it, and continue to fight the good fight.