Billboard Gospel

New Mexico Department of Game and Fish ran this roadside advertising campaign for years: “Take a Kid Fishing.” The billboard featured a chubby little boy, eyes swelling with tears and hands holding a scarred-up hatchery trout. I chuckled at the irony of it as we drove past one, headed up the Pecos River that windy […]


SEARCHING FOR FRICTION Old soul, young body—beautiful curse. The squalor of migrating birds flying above migrating fish. I have stayed in the same place my whole life and not blinked, but now on this boat my face looks frozen to the passerby, like epiphany had struck me dead in the warm sunshine. But I am […]


When I was 10 or 12 years old, I watched my father destroy a 19th-century Meissen service plate, a tavern scene with scarlet reticulated edges trimmed with gold leaf. Our house was like a small porcelain museum—a midnight blue Limoges tray with the textured relief of a woman’s face emerging from delicate layers of pâte-sur-pâte; […]


New Delhi, India September 3, 20– Dear Roger, How the heck are ya? Fishing somewhere, I hope. I’m in India. We’re supposed to be setting up a mahseer program on the Nepalese border, but the monsoons are holding on later than they usually do and we’re having to wait them out.     This morning […]


Before my uncle died, before I knew anything about blood knots or double-hauls or 0 tapered leaders, before I started making the long drives home, I’d been thinking I needed a change. Growing up in Michigan, I’d fished off the pier in South Haven, bait-casting for yellow perch and salmon, and at an unproductive spot […]

Whistling Gophers

I was fishing with Mike Dvorak from Minnesota and Vince Zounek, my neighbor in Colorado, two friends of mine who knew of each other, but had never met before. I wasn’t surprised they hit it off. We all flyfish—which puts us halfway there already—and beyond that we’re just recognizable American guys of a certain vintage; not […]

Bass Beatdown

In December 1969, Sports Illustrated published “The Longest Silence,” Thomas McGuane’s famous essay about permit fishing. It was illustrated with a couple of spare, evocative watercolors by an artist named Francis Golden. In the essay, McGuane delves into the then relatively new practice of chasing permit with fly rods. Remember, it was 1969. Nixon was […]

On Baldwin River

LOWER RIVER My grandfather, Jack Steketee, was the finest flyfisherman I have ever known.  His rustic log cabin overlooked the Baldwin River in northern Michigan—just upstream from the Pere Marquette—where he tied flies, split wood and spent summer evenings hunting the river’s nocturnal brown trout. He also tended to my grandmother, who was bedridden with […]

Guide Primer

I. On the river, things make sense. Even if fish aren’t biting, and clients are upset fish aren’t biting, and the ice in the cooler somehow shifted, and the sandwiches are soggy. There is even sense to make as someone’s backhoe scrapes riverbed, displacing bugs and fish, mudding the river for weeks, only to have […]


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