You Can Do Something


Recently, a friend of mine returned from meetings in DC in support of public lands. You can read the write-up on Orvis News. When I asked him what he thought about the time he spent with representatives and how we felt afterward, he was encouraged by the receptiveness of the officials and their willingness to listen. More importantly, though, was the feeling that normal folks like us can have an impact.

If you are passionate about something, and this is something you should be passionate about, take the time to contact your representatives and let them know what you think.

And One Was Enough


I caught one fish today.

The creek is close, but not too close. The kind of place that doesn’t stand out on a topo map, but it looks fishy as hell when you see it. A few years ago, I put in a dozen days with clients. We had success in the dry days of summer when options were sparse, but it fishes best when the rain rolls in and pushes the water against the overgrown banks. It fishes best on days like today.

There used to be an old blue truck topper well above the waterline in one thick, rhododendroned corner. We found a chunk of it in the water today; how it got there is a mystery to me. Too far and too heavy to carry out, we dragged it back into the trees. It doesn’t belong in the woods, but it belongs less in the water. A bright splash of blasphemous blue, an unwelcome intrusion.

Lately, it has been more about the company than the fish. Today, though, was a perfect combination of friends, fish, and landscape. The rain reclined, making room for the fog, and the woods were loud with the sounds of spring. I blew the crow call here and there, optimistically hoping to expose a gobbler, but the forest answered with the almost violent roar that only comes to you when you set the silence aside. There is no quiet here.

I feel possessive of these woods. I grew up here, I learned to fish here, I hunt grouse here, and, in a few short weeks, I’ll be back in search of turkey. This brooding, brutal landscape is where I find my peace. You can keep your high-rises and high-risers; I’ll take my woods, my friends, and my contentment.

I caught one fish today.



A Fierce Green Fire


“A conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke [of the axe] he is writing his signature on the face of the land.”

-Aldo Leopold

I’ve been working my way through a too-large stack of unread books, and I’ve been reflecting on those works that seem to mean more to me. Just like music, there is always an unintended connection of time and place from which meaning is derived. I read Moby-Dick too early, I think, to perceive it as anything more than an a tale of adventure. I ran headfirst into Heart of Darkness at perhaps exactly the right moment, and I find myself returning to it with surprising regularity.

Then, of course, there are the books I almost can’t believe I’ve missed. Most recently, this was A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. I’ve come to realize, though, that most good things are only good as a result of when they are discovered, and Leopold is no different. Go buy yourself a copy, and read it with an open mind and an eye toward current events. The book is timeless, but it is also timely, and I think you’ll find a new favorite.

A Question, Eventually


Once again, we find ourselves facing that point in the waning days of winter when spring’s inevitable gravity is pulling us closer to the March equinox. These last days of winter mean that grouse season has ended, and while a recent job change took priority over days behind my bird dog, we did manage to keep the streak alive. Never a bad year with that dog, and hardly a bad day; I wonder what I did to deserve that.

Of course, this is also the time of year when new products are beginning to hit the market from all the major players. Some of them have been rumored for years, and others simply sprung forth from research dungeons hidden in old missile silos. At least, that’s how I picture it – kind of like that movie The Colony, but with machining equipment instead of, well, other stuff. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen that one; you ain’t missing much.

In an effort to take this rambling monologue in yet another direction, I want to pose a question to you, the esteemed SCOF audience. We’ll get there in a minute, though. I’m an avid consumer of podcasts, and one of my favorites is The Tim Ferriss Show, and one of my favorite questions that he asks is what recent purchase under some small limit, say $75, has made the biggest difference in the guest’s life. I’ll remove the dollar limit on my version, however.

What fishing-related purchase in the last year or so has had the biggest impact on you?


Six Hundred Small Steps


Photos by Brown Hobson of Brown Trout Fly Fishing

As anyone in the Asheville area knows, the French Broad River has a major problem with siltation. It can take well over a week to clear after a heavy rain, and it often puts a halt to our summer smallmouth expeditions. In a small but important step toward solving this issue, a few of us participated in a bank stabilization project on Cane Creek, a tributary of the French Broad and a major source of silt.

Organizaed by mountaintrue, small projects like these are a truly hands-on and meaningful method of preventing streambank erosion. In addition to getting in the way of fishing, sediment pollution suffocates insect life and reduces the oxygen content of water. Muddy water is more than an inconvenience; cleaner water means healthier rivers.

So, along with my friends Austin (Orvis) and Brown (Brown Trout Fly Fishing), as well as Anna from mountaintrue and a couple of other volunteers, we set six-hundred willow and elderberry stakes in the banks of Cane Creek. Through the spring, it is estimated that about 30% of these will take root and begin to grow a framework that will slow the erosion of the banks and lessen the sediment burden on the French Broad.

Of course, Cane Creek is just one such problem area, and we only covered a few hundred yards. While mountaintrue organizes these events throughout the winter, they could always use a hand. I’m sure there are plenty of organizations that do similar work in your areas as well, and I encourage you to seek them out and lend a hand where you can.