Adventure: On the Fly

I know what you are thinking. “Milnor, where is all the 8k, “cinematic” streaming video of this little adventure?” Oh, just know it’s coming. It’s being color corrected in a secret lab near Sacramento. The bokeh is being copyrighted as we speak.

Let me tell you about the dry fly. I especially love doing this because many of the creative world people I know recoil at even the mention of hunting or fishing, all while saddling up to a buffet of store bought meats. No, it makes little sense. Even when catching and releasing fish I’m often met with nasty remarks and hostile views toward the pursuit, mostly by folks who have never been. I get it. This is the world we live in.

But let me tell you about the dry fly. There are other ways to fly fish but I rarely ever throw anything but the dry. The dry fly floats. You can see the fish engage, a streak of white or brown or rainbow-colored texture just below the surface. Angling from impossible angles at impossible speeds, the fly vanishing in a small whirlpool of instinct.

Fly fishing is an art form. The line, the tippet, the fly, the hatch, the wind, the water, the temperature, the species, and the intangibles of nature not to mention the skill of the person with the tackle. The best part, the locations at which you find yourself. Deep in the crags, away from the masses, void of the sounds of man. These places are rapidly disappearing. If you want to go, go now.

This was the lone trip of the past three months, and it was a day trip as all the New Mexico parks are still closed for overnight action. And rightly so, we are one state that has taken the pandemic seriously, and for this I am enternally grateful.

My mother taught me to fly fish when I was in elementary school. She is good. Time is catching up with her now but we still go once a year at the very least. Often when I’m fishing, once my strategy has been finalized, I drift mentally into the past. My father, my mother, Wyoming as a kid, trout ponds, streams, beaver dams and the smell of sage. I can’t think of anything better, anything more meaningful.

8 Comments on “Adventure: On the Fly”

  1. Dan, have you thought of bringing a small fly rod on your bike adventures? Recently started this myself and enjoy the combination of the two hobbies here in the driftless of Minnesota.

    1. Evan,

      Damn you….MN. So much water. So many options. I dream of MN all the time. In fact, I’m going to buy a collapsable canoe for the van. Don’t want to drive the world with a rigid on top and getting one on a high roof van by myself would be difficult. Reason? Getting on the water. I don’t typically ride with fly rod here as the water I could fish is too distant. But, when I’m out in the van I am never without both. I am thinking of a multiday canoe trip in Boundary Waters. Ever been?

  2. Dan, the BWCA is on our list to hit very very soon. Living in spring creek heaven, it’s been hard to skip over so much untouched local water. I have an old best made co. Print of ELY, MN on my wall I look at every day. The goal is to float a few days and fly fishing for some big brookies. We just equipped our Jeep with a roof tent and the kids think it’s a tree fort. Hoping to hit the road soon as well and fish up north and out west. Have you considered a packable inflatable raft like the kokopelli xpd? I have seen this solution for a single rider along with the foldable version you are looking at. Best of luck and maybe we will catch you at the boundary.

    1. Evan,
      Ya, the pack raft is an option too. I’ve always loved Canoes but will look around and see what is what. I sold my truck and got a van so self-contained and I can work from it was well so should be fun.

  3. I really enjoyed that, Dan. Few things seem to be able to sharpen my focus, and make hours disappear, like sight fishing to trout in some of our small NM streams.

    And you are so correct about these places disappearing. This summer seems particularly scary with the extreme temps/low water, and added crowds looking to get away and find something to do during a pandemic. Though I try to remind myself that I’m one of the crowd, and that there must be something positive in people turning to natural places to find solace during such strange times.

    But I fear we may be changing these places, so I’ll now be packing a camera on these excursions.


    1. Andy,
      The administration is selling off public land as fast as possible. Every time I see a hunter/fisherman with a Trump sticker it makes me shake my head. A friend texted yesterday from one of the best fishing spots in the West and asked me where he should go and I had to tell him, “It’s all private now, just keep moving.” Or you pay through the nose for a guide. Last summer most of the lakes here were closed for algae blooms and now you are starting to see the brain bacteria showing up all over the place. A dog died in Zion this past weekend, an hour after swimming in river.

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