The last time I heard David McElyea’s voice, he threatened to kill me. “I oughta come up there and blow your head off,” Dave declared before I hung up the telephone.
Five Years Without a Cell Phone Brings Freedom
I haven't missed a single text or call in nearly five years. That's because I haven't carried or owned a cell phone since April 2018. The liberation from that digital leash is indescribable but brings predictable problems. For example, very few people communicate with me. Ever. Most everyone relies on texting and social media sites …
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New Ones Comin’ As The Old Ones Go
After 10 years of faithful guide boat service, my Outcast PAC 1200 fly fishing pontoon boat has finally been replaced. The new raft is a great three-person Outcast PAC 1400 boat that continues the Arkansas Traveler Fly Fishing tradition of low-petroleum angling on the White and North Fork rivers. At 14-feet long, the new boat …
Syvalene Gaylor-Unwer and Jason pose with the fat catfish she caught out of Jason's pond in May 2022. Syvalene was a lifelong angler, and loved being on the water watching birds even if the fish weren't biting. She died October 21, 2022, after a long life inspiring me and many others to enjoy the natural …
Never Get Out of The Boat, Or How I Lost My First Fly Rod
The first rule of hitchhiking is simple: Don’t walk when you can ride. That means never use your feet to walk while searching for a ride. Instead, find a place with frequent vehicle traffic passing – shade tree preferred – and start thumbing. Vehicles come to you and so will rides. Many novice travelers fail to obey that primary rule, and wear themselves out needlessly walking toward destinations, rather than waiting for rides to materialize organically.
Newspapers Still Exist!
Although rumors may conflict with reality, but I assure you that newspapers are not entirely defunct and are still printing stories about fishing in Arkansas. The Arkansas-Democrat Gazette (where I worked as a journalist about 20 years ago) recently published a fine story about my guide business and Spey casting instruction. The link is below. …
The Last Hike to King Lake
I was afraid to open the package when it arrived. An ominous star image was emblazed on the front, and the words “Sheriff’s Dept., Grand County, Colorado.” The return address label read, “Rodney P. Johnson, Sheriff.” Slowly, I slid it open and inside found my blue Guatemalan-made fanny pack along with my Arkansas driver’s license. I’d lost them the previous week while hiking and fly fishing in Colorado.
I Was A Montauk Fishing Virgin, Or How I Learned To Eat A Mango
Fly fishing adventures often teach important life lessons about people, not just angling. For example, I thought I knew how to eat a mango and catch trout on the fly rod, but I learned lessons about both long ago on my first journey to Missouri’s Montauk State Park.
Seattle Sockeye Salmon Say, “Sayonara!”
Sockeye salmon have become functionally extinct in Seattle, Wash. Last week, the final remnants of that city’s once-famed sockeye run were scooped up in hand nets, loaded onto trucks and driven to holding pens. There they will be milked for eggs and milt in hopes that science can save those few remaining fish that have thrived in the Pacific Northwest for 6 million years.
The Strange Death of the Ancient Grass Carp
The giant grass carp had to die. I pondered a well-placed .22 bullet to its skull as it swam just under the surface of the pond, nosing its snout into the air to pluck fresh-fallen leaves from the water’s surface. Or I could try and net the monster fish and hope to bash its head with a rock as it flailed on the shore. No matter the method, it wouldn’t be easy to murder the venerable carp, but it had to be done.