Tenkara

  • By: John Gierach
  • Illustrations by: Bob White
Tenkara

We were in my kitchen in northern Colorado on a warm August evening. I was at the stove stirring a pot of elk spaghetti sauce; Susan McCann, the journalist and editor I’ve lived with for the past 20 years, was constructing an enormous salad and Ed Engle, the fishing writer and my oldest continuous friend, was slicing French bread. Daniel Galhardo, owner and founder of Tenkara USA, had offered to help several times, but it was a small, crowded kitchen with cats underfoot and there was nothing left to do, so he’d settled for volunteering to wash the dishes.

Becoming a Steelheader

  • By: John Gierach
  • Illustrations by: Bob White
Becoming a Steelheader

Last October, While taking a break between passes through a pool on the Klickitat River in Washington state, Jeff Cottrell said to me, “I think you’ve become a steelheader.” I took it as a compliment, even though I didn’t really know what he meant. Probably just that I’d worked the entire run methodically, starting higher than some would and fishing so far into the tail that the fly ticked gravel on my last swing.

Great Bear

  • By: John Gierach
  • Illustrations by: Bob White
Around the Fire

It’s sometime around midday and either Martin or I —I forget who— has just landed the five-pound lake trout that will be our lunch fish. Our guide, Craig Blackie, motors us to shore, digs out a blackened iron grate and props it off the ground on rocks while Martin and I hunt for firewood. We’re at the northern end of Great Bear Lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories, above the Arctic Circle and near the northern tree line, so wood is scarce, but we only need enough for a quick twig fire.

On the Ranch

  • By: John Gierach
sporting life spring 2010.jpg

Driving west across Colorado on Interstate 70, there was a specific quarter-mile where the public-radio and classic-rock stations I’d been grazing through all faded to static and were replaced by country-western and preachers. The exit for the town of Silt was in the rearview mirror and the Colorado River was off my left shoulder. I’d crossed the Continental Divide some 90 miles back and could have made the Utah border in less than an hour, but it was only then that I felt like I was officially on the West Slope where the airwaves are filled with pain and redemption with livestock reports on the hour.

Into the Off Season

  • By: John Gierach
SportingLifeBobWhitemarch.jpg

The conceit among trout fishers is that we’re all such unreconstructed fanatics that when fishing possibilities dwindle over the winter we go quietly insane. In fact, some do—and not always quietly—but others seem to take the break more or less in stride and a few even think it’s “good for the soul,” as Nick Lyons once said, to have an off-season for rest and reflection.