Tag Archives: 40 Rivers to Freedom


Two years have now officially passed since my first blog post.

It’s been a great ride so far, and I consider myself fortunate to have the modest audience I do. I’m also fortunate to have met–in real life–a couple dozen people I’ve connected with through the blog and social media circles, including other writers, photographers, industry players and good folks who just love to fish and hunt.

I don’t have any sort of giveaway to commemorate the occasion. What I do have is a list of other outdoor writers that I read and admire greatly. While this doesn’t cover every blog or writer I read, these are the ones I drop in on most frequently.

40 Rivers to Freedom – Alex Cerveniak just recently moved back to his native Michigan from central NY and has taken his writing with him. I’ve enjoyed his stream and field reports, opinion pieces and photography for a while now, but he’s found a really strong stride since returning home.

Fishing Jones – There are people who say they travel everywhere with a fly rod, and then there’s Pete McDonald who catches bass out of an airport pond before he heads for security check-in. He’s got a knack for packing a lot into a short post and also just published a beautiful book of essays and photography with Tosh Brown.

Mouthful of Feathers – I can’t help but wish I lived out west with a bird dog and a few bird-hunting comrades when I read the shorts that these six guys write. The stories are unflinching and well crafted. The imagery is as big as the country they turn their dogs loose on.

Fat Guy Fly Fishing – The trio of Alex Landeen, Aaron Dennett and Kyle Deneen dish up healthy portions of snarky opinion, fat bass pics and epic reports from events like Carp Slam and Wrinkleneck 22. You’re just going to have to see for yourself.

LO FI FLY – Probably my favorite recent find. The Unicorn Wrangler fishes with good buds in Canadian big fish locales and posts solid pics, video and write-ups. Plus he dredges up some ill (yea, I said ill) old-skool (and new-skool) lo-fi photos and videos that have nothing to do with fishing or the outdoors, and has singlehandedly made cussing a formal element of creative writing. Dig it.

Mysteries Internal – Erin Block is translating solitude and a life lived simply into a beautiful, ongoing conversation between herself and the world around her. Her stories and anecdotes about fishing and life move with an ease and poesy that remind me of why I was so drawn to writing in the first place: it forces you to slow down and pay attention.

Arizona Wanderings – Ben Smith spends a lot of time outdoors, and not just in Arizona. He fly fishes small Arizona and Adirondack mountain streams and big Alaskan and PacNW rivers. He hunts javelina and mule deer with a recurve. He hunts birds. He ties a mean hopper pattern. And he puts up great reports from his wandering.

fishbeer – Reading Matt Dunn’s blog is like skiing a new mountain in the dark. One moment you’ll be bombing along, adrenaline wide open and hollering, and the next you’ll be flat on your back spitting out bark and your fronts. His mind works in ways I wish mine would, and his writing is in lock-step.

Hunt Ducks, Hook Fish – Pete Thrubis is another dude that spends a lot of time outdoors, and has been known to park his truck with duck/bass boat in-tow in the parking lot at work. His no-frills, Michigan blue-collar voice tells a great story regardless of season, quarry or success. And his appreciation for that time outdoors always carries some good perspective.

The Fiberglass Manifesto – I know this one might go without saying, but I’m saying it. While TFM is a site that explores the Glass Lifestyle, Cameron has established a mainstream daily resource for new gear reviews, industry news, and promoting the sport of fly fishing as a whole. While I may not tune-in to every custom rod build report, I do look forward to fishing some glass in the near future.

Bonefish on the Brain – I’m not sure how he does it, but Bjorn Stromsness drops a post every day about his beloved bonefish or places to fish for his beloved bonefish or small island shacks he dreams of inhabiting so he could chase his beloved bonefish full-time. I’m just about convinced that I need to find some salt soon.

The Outdooress – Rebecca Garlock has been a tad busy, what with starting the Outdoor Blogger Network, running around the Oregon countryside for salmon and chasing browns on River X with yours truly. Thankfully, I have her word that she’s about to play some serious catch-up on her stable of stories. I’m looking forward to some more humor and big fish pics.



Filed under In the woods, On the water


It’s been a busy summer for house-projects, travel and work. Four months have already passed since I made the jump from the agency world to freelance-dome and it feels like it’s been years…in a good way.

Over the next month or so I’ve got a significant amount of writing to do about a few significant trips from this busy summer:
• The IFTD show that I just attended in New Orleans (watch for reports from Cameron over at The Fiberglass Manifesto and Alex at 40 Rivers to Freedom, as well as Midcurrent and Angling Trade).
• My upcoming trip west to fish in Idaho (hell yea!)
• Our week in the Adirondacks (which I’ve already been putting up some poetry from).

So, stay tuned as the busy-ness rolls on.


Filed under Making a living, On the water, Reviews, The road


In this story, I catch no fish. Let’s just get that out of the way.

It’s not like I’m giving away the ending or anything. Actually, sitting in front on my laptop with a Genny Cream Ale tall boy trying to find my way into this story, hands still swollen from freezing in the river this morning, I’m realizing that there’s really nothing to give away. I know that good stories are rarely easy to write. They don’t always play fair. Sometimes I have to write myself into a point, if there is one at all. Knuckle up and fight for pennies, hoping they add up to a buck when the dust settles. But I also know, while 9 out of 10 experiences may be unremarkable, there’s always something there to write about. That’s what storytelling is about…making something out of that something.

So, back to the story.

The drive up to Lake Placid took almost an hour and a half longer than I anticipated. It might have been the trooper following me for almost 15 miles after I cruised through Harrisville a bit to speedily. It might have been the long, winding stretches of Route 3 double yellow-lined Adirondack scenery, and me three cars behind a sub-compact driving sub speed limit. No matter. By the time I pulled into the Lake Placid Price Chopper parking lot at 6 p.m. to pick up some groceries, I had one hour before Chris Williamson and the guys from the Tri-Lakes chapter of TU would be rolling film for the Fly Fishing Film Tour. With three sticks of beef jerky, three Cream Ale tall boys, one Gatorade and some Chips-Ahoy cookies, I headed for the Woodlake Motor Lodge to check in before the show.

The film tour, dubbed F3T, was my primary reason for making the trek north. But it doubled nicely as an excuse to explore some of the Ausable River’s West Branch the following morning. One detail that failed to cross my mind during pre-trip planning however, was that the land of The Miracle on Ice would still be as cold as it was. I finished a beer and a stick of jerky in the rustic comfort of my room, pushed the thoughts of a frigid morning in my waders to the back of my mind, turned up the thermostat and left to go watch some fish porn.

I knew that I’d be running into Alex Cerveniak (of 40 Rivers to Freedom fame) and his son at the event. We’d corresponded via chats and email a handful of times, but had never met “live.” I’ve enjoyed his blog for a while, so it was good to be able to actually shake hands with the guy–a greeting sadly lost in our culture of electronic communication. After donating my fair share of money to the TU guys in exchange for a pocket-full of raffle tickets, we settled into our seats to watch some ridiculously fortunate (and in a couple cases, slightly nuts) guys head to ridiculously prime locales and catch ridiculously large fish. And lots of them.

When the lights came up at the end of an evening of permit, redfish, bones, sailfish, snook, smallmouth bass, musky and mako sharks, three films stuck with me:
MOTIV Fishing’s ambitious 8,000 mile South American roadtrip documentary, GEOFISH
The Stand By Me-esque NZ back-country travels of The Waters of Greenstone from Gambit Stone
And the bloody-knuckle, salt-of-the-earth truth of Musky Country – Zero 2 Hero from Third Year Fly Fisher.
Don’t get me wrong, all of the films on tour were well produced, with stunning footage, action and product placement. But these three in particular told a story, and told it well. The pisser: tomorrow morning was still going to be cold.

At 6 a.m. the alarm went off. I reset it for 6:30. I figured I’d give the morning another half hour to warm up a little. About the time I was dressed, the miniature coffee pot finished brewing. Next to the miniature coffee pot were two neatly wrapped, plastic water cups. Not Styrofoam. Not even heavy paper cups with the little fold-out handles. Plastic. Undaunted, I decided I’d stop and get some gas station coffee on the way out to the river.

The village was asleep in the quiet gray of dawn. Mountains to the southeast were just putting on their yellow-orange. The temperature gauge on my rear-view mirror reported 9-degrees. About five miles out Route 86 I realized I still had no coffee. I should’ve taken it as a sign, but I’m not one to concede victory before I’ve suffered good and plenty, or my gear fails. And even then I still may not get the hint.

My time on the water lasted barely an hour. I waded step after deliberate step out to mid river, the bottom draped with 6″ – 8″ of slush. My wooly bugger froze before I finished my second false cast, whistling through the air and landing like a reasonably sized stone in the slack water I was after. By my second cast the diameter of my fly line had increased to roughly that of a boat rope. I waded back to the bank, spent ten minutes de-icing my rod and line, and another ten trying to get some sort of feeling back in my fingers. As my dad used to say when he’d put me in one of his Chinese toe holds during a living room wrestling match – if you’re done, say uncle. Uncle.

Needless to say, I discovered that the Downtown Diner in Lake Placid serves a mean two eggs over easy, patty sausage, homefries, white toast and pancakes on the side with coffee and OJ  for less than ten bucks. Add some good fish films, a couple new friends and jerky with Genny Cream Ale…I’d say there’s a little something there after all.



Filed under On the water