One Man, A Manifesto, And A Huge Revival

The evolution of equipment/gear is to be expected in any sport.  I am sure that back in the day, the face mask was considered cutting edge to football.  In the same manner, the progression of fly fishing equipment has always prided itself of being cutting edge.  Space age technology is as much a part of fly fishing now as the river itself and it seems that every trade show is loaded with new rods that are bigger, faster, stronger.

And from a marketing standpoint it is understood as read that the old stuff is left behind.

But don't tell that to Cameron Mortenson.

In full disclosure, I pulled this photo from Facebook.

From one dude who loved fiberglass rods and had a cool blog, it seems that an entire industrial giant has risen from the ashes.  You would be hard pressed to find any manufacturer of fly rods now that do not offer glass as an option. There is a huge number of independent guys building glass rods. (and Cameron has a list on his web site).

I have one glass rod.  An old Heddon. Heavy and slow, it seems laborious until you set the hook on a fish.  It is the sexy bend in the rod that captures the imagination.  They are similar to bamboo, yet in a way that is difficult for me to define, they just feel different.  For me, an admitted bamboo lover, I picture the cane rod along side a fedora, a pipe, and wild trout.  With glass, much in part to Cameron, I picture just about any fishing location and attire you can imagine.  They just seem to belong.

When I break out the old Heddon, I am reminded of Virgil Ward.  Perhaps many of you are unfamiliar with Mr. Ward, but he was the first fishing show I ever remember seeing on television, and I recall him being in some rough country on a raging river with a fiberglass fly rod and Martin reel fighting monster rainbows.  Crap like that hangs with you if you have the angling bug.  At least 40 years removed from seeing those old shows, but they still resonate.

Virgil Ward helped make fishing a passion for me.

Much like Cameron Mortenson has generated an interest in glass.

I would love to have a small 4 or 5 wt glass rod...and a three weight as well for my times in the Smokies.  If I ever do pick up one...or both, I think it would be cool if I could get Cameron to autograph it.

After all...he is the one who sparked the interest.

Check out The Fiberglass Manifesto...and join me in the pursuit of glass.


...also ripped this off from Facebook. (Sorry Cameron)


An Anniversary

Hard to believe that Jill and I have been married for 15 years this coming Wednesday.  A heckuva lot of stuff has happened in those years. Four kids. Sickness that just about put me under. Wrecks. Deaths. Disney. (and yes it is intentional that I placed death and Disney together in that particular order)

She has put up with more crap outta me than anyone should have to endure.  I am moody, sometimes brooding, highly opinionated, often the round peg and square hole.  My concept of how life should be lived is so off center of reality at times that it is laughable, and my disdain for most of what people call normal has been an impediment more times than not.

Yet through it all, this woman has stood with me.

She is type A. I don't think they have classified my type yet.

How many hours has this woman put up with my desire to be on the river or in the mountains.  Mornings that she wanted to sleep late and I go lumbering through the house before daylight, dragging fly fishing gear behind me at break neck speed to be the first on the river.  This also is followed by the fact that my noise woke everyone in the house.

She has patiently sat and listened as I tell her about time spent on the water.  What I saw, who I ran into.  She has called me while I am mid cast, and sometimes mid catch, and though some may say that it is intrusive to be on the phone while fishing- I always answer.  This is my Bride, and though I am away from her, I still like hearing her voice.

Jill is so talented and hard working. I on the other hand can be down right lazy at times.  She will be all over the place taking care of whatever needs her attention while all I want to do is find a place to sit and watch the day go by.

Am I lucky? I would like to think I am.

The time we actually get to spend together is rare. With four kids, finding a babysitter is hard, and with their schedules we often speak as we pass and fall asleep mid conversation.

This is where things get good.

Next week.  Two full days in the Smokies together. No kids. No work. No cell signal.

Just me and my Bride.

I can't wait.
My Bride and Elkmont...


The Houseguest

For two or three years now, we have unintentionally provided a nesting area for a Carolina Wren. On the first Spring visit, she built her nest on the top of a refrigerator that we had on our car port, she carefully constructed a safe haven inside a wicker basket that was left over from Easter.  For reasons unknown, she left and the nest stayed vacant for the remainder of the year.  The following Spring, she moved to a storage shelf. Nestled back in the corner, she once again built a home and once again, she left it without returning.  Thinking that she would be back eventually, we left the nest alone.

This year, as the last vestiges of Winter vanished, our little friend returned.  Evidently unsatisfied with her previous dwelling, she built another nest no more than a foot away from the old one.  This nest is right outside the door, so every time we came or left, she would quickly flee to the trees.  At first it was quite startling to leave the house and have a bird appear out of nowhere six inches from your head. Eventually we grew accustomed to it and began stepping to the right side of the stairs which seemed to be enough distance for her to feel safe.  But as time passed, she stopped being frightened of us and some mornings as I left for work I would stop, look in on her, and say good morning.  Our eyes would meet and most of the time she never moved.  This was not a tame bird of course, but I think she finally accepted the fact that we meant her no harm.

Then, for the first time in her many visits, eggs appeared in the nest.  The kids were thrilled to peek in at the tiny ovals no larger than your thumb nail.  I used this as an opportunity to teach them about the way that nature has built in instincts that insure the bird knows what to do without being taught.  I have used this little bird to teach them about stewardship of nature, about how nature is sometimes forced to use what man has made, and how nature will always prevail.

And so...

Yesterday as I came home, I stopped and peered into the shadows of the nest and saw four very bald, very tiny babies teetering.  I ran inside and told the kids and they were ecstatic.  So, with a tiny pin light, I let each of them take turns stepping out the door to look at the new arrivals.  Soon the nonstop chatter of hungry babies will fill that end of our home.  And with each frantic chirp, our family will know that in some part, we have played a part, albeit small, in a large and in many ways, mystical story.

The story of life.


Thoughts on Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day here are some mental snapshots of when our planet showed off for me.

  • Small pond in the middle of nowhere that held four goldfish.
  • The majesty of The Grand Canyon covered in snow.
  • Sitting on a stump with one of my best friends, watching two elk spar over the leadership of the herd.
  • Standing on a frozen lake in The Upper Peninsula of Michigan, sipping bourbon our of a tin cup while the Northern Lights danced over my head.
  • Traveling up a dry riverbed out west and finding broken pottery in a cave.
  • Seeing native brook trout returning to a stream destroyed by flood.
  • Watching a buck cross a river in front of me as it fled a pack of coyotes.
  • Fishing while surrounded by bison in the Lemar Valley in Yellowstone.
  • Standing knee deep in salt water as a school of bonefish work their way across the flats,
So many things seen, and so much more remains to be seen.

I am thankful for this place that spins through space as well as the perfect location in which is resides; providing all that we need to live.

So much of what is natural has found itself in the ranks of the abused as we destroy in an effort to remain.  Untold acres of land set aside just to have a place to hide our own wastefulness in the form of landfills.

Grow a garden

Pick up trash found on a stream

Plant trees

Leave undeveloped property alone

Practice stewardship