Letter from the Editor: The Angler’s Sojourn

Reading through the articles in our annual Fly Fishing issue, I’m reminded of my own daughter’s summer adventure with her godfather, an angler of considerable note in these parts. At 9, I’d never bothered to take her fly fishing, assuming it would be too frustrating (mostly to me) for a young child. So when “uncle” Tim offered to take her out on Mill Creek to a “secret spot,” I warned him that it might not be her thing. He insisted, so I packed them a lunch and sent them out the door.

They didn’t return until dinnertime. To be honest, they didn’t hook a thing. A couple of bites, Tim said, but nothing of note.

My daughter was a little banged up; her knee was bruised and she had a significant scrape down her shin from “stepping over a huge log in the middle of the deepest part of the creek.” She was a little sunburned and hungry. I expected her to cry as soon as Tim turned his back. I anticipated her disappointment and steeled myself with motherly patience. Instead, she gushed with a story of adventure, of daring and risk. She’d learned to fish, she explained, “but not to catch” — yet. Catching would be another time.

She’s not the first fly fisher to have this experience. And ultimately, isn’t that what each of us loves about fly fishing? Not so much the catching (though that makes for an even better story), but the searching. The adventure. The journey.

In his feature story about Wyoming’s Sweetwater River, writer Jeff Erickson likens fly fishing to a hegira (a pilgrimage), albeit cushy compared to the 19th-century pioneer history he references. There’s more than a little truth to the comparison of fly fishing to a religious sojourn.

For writer Brian Hurlbut and friends, getting into the backcountry (In Pursuit of Adventure … and Shimmery Fish) was the goal of fly fishing alpine lakes in the Pioneer Mountains. Greg Thomas, Julie Lue, Chad Hanson, all write of days spent searching for something meaningful — time with friends, stolen moments immersed in nature, a return to simplicity.

In our annual “Fish Tales” short essay section, Carter G. Walker, John Heminway and Shann Ray tell us of Home Waters that conjure memories of intrepid youth, the practice of faith and a sense of place. They’ve been on many excursions, but fly fishing has taken them to new places.

I hope this issue inspires you to seek your own sojourns on distant waters or even out the back door.

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