fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)


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…they’re the people that you read each day*

This post brought to you by the writing prompt “Which Outdoor Bloggers
would you like to Meet?
” from the Outdoor Blogger Network (OBN),
though not all of the bloggers mentioned here are OBN members…


Contemplating this question I realized how lucky I was to meet Kirk from The Unaccomplished Angler in person before his recent retreat from fame. It certainly brings your inflated online impression of someone who’s written a few books and maintains a consistently enjoyable blog down to earth when you sneak up on him while he’s doing yard work. Though I’ve already met him, I’d still like to someday take up Kirk on his offer to spend some time on “The Forks.”

I started my blog before the term existed. I started in 1997 with a simple website that was cumbersome to update, and because it was hand-coded HTML, new content (e.g. “posts”) appeared periodically. (Those of you who recently stepped into blogging don’t know how easy y’all have it with CMS and blog publishing applications.)

Then one day I came across something quite wonderful back in aught-six of the third millennium. One of the first blogs that actually looked pretty nice. Tom Chandler had pieced together a good-looking layout for The Trout Underground. My more modest talent has allowed me to make some money in the field of writing, and Tom’s prose gave me the inspiration to reach outside my training as a journalist for the creative side of writing. Just as much as I enjoy Tom as a writer (regardless of whether his Fly Fishing Underground Writer’s Network is competition for OBN), there’s also the lure of joining him on some of his home waters, which are open during the winter, when I’m often jonesing for a fly fishing fix.

Linking from The Trout Underground, before I knew it would be against better judgment, I ended up on Singlebarbed, where Keith Barton‘s skewed outlook near the shores of the Lil Stinkin’ can alternately leave you laughing, crying or shaking your head. His take on fly tying is what I like best…there’s no recipe that doesn’t deserve to be messed with, whether that means cheap different materials, methods or colors. Keith fishes some less-than-pristine waters near me, but meeting and fishing with him might require a 55-gallon drum of body sanitizer and a hazmat suit.

I’ve found that recovery from a visit to Singlebarbed can be aided by a visit to David Knapp’s The Trout Zone. David’s got a keen eye for photography and a “quiet” writing style. David fishes some prime trout waters in Tennessee, particularly the type of small streams I enjoy; all the more reason to want to meet him for some photo pointers and fishing.

It’s possible I could go on writing for pages and pages screens and screens about various bloggers that I’d enjoy meeting and likely fish with, but to finish up I’d have to include Chris Hunt over at Eat More Brook Trout. How can one not love his blog’s irreverent name? Personally, his story is one that I could make my own — a journalist who retires to work for Trout Unlimited, write essays about fly fishing and spend his free time fly fishing in a pretty awesome place. Even if only for a few days, Chris would be another guy with whom I could spend some time.

In closing, I’d certainly have to add Rebecca Garlock (The Outdooress) and Joe Wolf (Flowing Waters) to my list. Not necessarily because I’ve enjoyed reading their blogs (I have), but to possibly get a glimmer of a hint into their plan for OBN’s worldwide fly fishing blog domination.


*”Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood blog network?
In your neighborhood blog network?
In your neighborhood blog network?
Say, who are the people in your neighborhood blog network?
The people that you meet read each day”


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is toasted missing blogger toast?

A main virtue of blogging is that there’s no demand it be taken seriously. Unlike news reporting, there’s no accountability. Unlike writing a novel, paperback or children’s book, one doesn’t have to worry about sales. That’s not to say it can’t or won’t be taken seriously. Like everything else on the Internet, blogs can contain gems of knowledge, humor or insight.

The only pressure behind a blog is that applied by the writer him/herself. Often this self-applied pressure gets to be too much, and a blog is formally retired or slowly slides into oblivion.

One blogger I’ve come to know fell off the radar so fast that the good folks at Outdoor Blogger Network are a bit elated worried and would still like to know where he might be. There’s speculation that he’s retired. I only know that wherever Mr. Unaccomplished Angler, aka Kirk Werner, might be, he’d better not be fishing.

As one who’s also spent a career throwing together words that might mean something to someone, admittedly not as creatively as Kirk’s series of Olive, The Little Wooly Bugger books or his blog, writing means you’ll never be able to afford retirement. So I disagree slightly with Jay over at The Naturalist’s Angle blog. (And I’ll admit to intially wondering if Jay was writing about fly fishing au naturel.)

Recent rumors regarding Kirk swirl like a back eddy around design work for a suspiciously unnamed client and a fourth Olive book. There are other, unsubstantiated reports of both Mr. & Mrs. UA involved in an outdoor activity that smacks of a New Year resolution and taking in a movie. I’d suggest that Kirk has set aside the trappings of fly fishing and has “retired” to his home office to focus on bring home the bacon.

So I think the folks at OBN can rest easy; there’s no need to call on the services of local NBC King 5 reporter “Danger” Jim Forman.

Some say he's a fly fishing machine, others call him Unaccomplished.

From where I sit, based on the sparse evidence so far collected, Kirk is paying the price, as most of us working stiffs do, for spending a wee bit too much time fly fishing. (If there can be such a thing.) Yes, bills need to be paid, and just as important, the family and wife deserve a share of his time.

Once his dog Eddie begins to recognize him again without the aid of four or five Milk-Bones, I’ve no doubt that Kirk, ratty River Guide hat on his head, will leave for his next misadventure.

With more blog fodder, he’ll be back.


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thanks to dad, we were lucky to simply survive experience the great outdoors

This post brought to you by a writing prompt from the Outdoor Blogger Network


I’ve been a dad for more years than you’d think and with that has come amazement that the number of candles on my birthday cakes made it to double digits.

Sure, everyone my age grew up without seat belts, car seats, and medications without child-proof lids. Many of my contemporaries rode bikes without helmets, ate sandwiches made with white bread and drank drinks made with real sugar.

Personally, I’m more amazed that I and my siblings survived family vacations in the great outdoors.

I can’t figure out if dad was fearless, just wasn’t being smart or placed such importance on exposing his kids to the outdoors that the risks outweighed the rewards. Maybe it was the fact that we didn’t have innumerable television documentaries underscoring man’s inability to win in a one-on-one battle with nature. Whatever the reason, we were lucky.

There are photos that I won’t share here of me in diapers, in the wilds of Yosemite Valley. That might have been where it all began, but the memories are foggy.

Tuolumne Meadows Campsite

Where we camped for many years, long ago...

What I do remember are the multiple summers we spent in Tuolumne Meadows. At 8,600 feet elevation the weather was changeable. This made day hikes, already an adventure thanks to steep elevation gains and decomposing granite, unpredictable.

While there’s debate among my family as to the name of the lake that was the destination on one ill-fated hike, it’s clear that dad had pushed the limits on that cold and overcast day. With the distance of the hike limited by the length of my youngest brother’s legs, I’m guessing the hike in took no more than a couple of hours. Much of the trail wound in and around trees before rising and emerging onto a wide meadow. Crossing the meadow put us on the shore of a lake nestled up against granite peaks. Back then we carried spin fishing gear, and it wasn’t more than a few casts before a trout made one of the most dramatic, leaping strikes to swallow dad’s Mepps Agila. Small as the fish was, dad stumbled back in his surprise at the strike.

Just about then or shortly thereafter (my memory was muddled by the excitement), the gray of the sky gave way to small granules of something best described as light hail or heavy snow. Not being as keen on fishing, my sister and brother were huddle with mom near what little shelter was offered by a wind-stunted tree. “Jerry,” my mom said, “I think it’s time to go.” Nearly 40 years later I can understand that when fishing, time flies by but those same minutes are painfully slow to pass when you’re shivering in the high country and miles from the remotest fingers of civilization. Grudgingly, dad decided it was better to leave the fish for the sake of his children and, perhaps, his marriage.

The first time we pitched a tent at the Tuolumne Meadows Campground, where, by the way, there are no public showers; my dad’s solution was to take advantage of what nature had to offer. He proudly explained to us that we’d be using biodegradable soap. (It was a novelty back in the 1970s.) Our water source would be the oh-so convenient Tuolumne River. A river that originates from two forks — the Dana Fork and the Lyell Fork — both of which originate from the huge snowpack in the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada. There’s something about bathing in water that only 24 hours ago was in its frozen form. Yet another time we dodged hypothermia.

Then there were the bears. We knew they were there. We saw them occasionally during the day. It’s the times we didn’t see them that still give me chills. There were mornings we’d wake up and dad would show us the bear tracks through our camp; tracks that weren’t there yesterday and must have been made during the night, when I stepped out of the tent for a trip to the bathroom and could have become a tasty midnight snack for one of Yogi’s cousins.

Sierra Cup

The fateful faithful Sierra cup.

Those mornings dad would tempt fate yet again by preparing breakfast on the flattop griddles that years ago were standard equipment in every national and state park campsite. These griddles were nothing more than flat plates of steel welded to a grill, on top of a three-sided steel box, and naturally were exposed to the elements all year long, accumulating sap, rust and the occasional animal or bird dropping. Dad’s ritual involved stoking the wood underneath the grill with the idea of sterilizing it, then throw on bacon to lube it up before tossing on eggs and toast. While it’s entirely possible he did manage to sterilize the griddle, I can help but wonder if some of the “seasoning” entailed small bits of rust and other things.

In that vein, I also remember being so proud of our Sierra cups. My brother and I would loop them under our belts, and like little men, dip them into the clear streams to quench our thirst. Try that nowadays without worrying.

These are only snapshots of my childhood adventures in the wilderness, and there are other, less dangerous memories of other hikes, more fishing and just being a kid in the great outdoors. Those I’ll save for another time.

I was lucky to spend so much time in the great outdoors. All of these adventures never fail to bring a smile to my face.