28 May Trout Stream Time Warp

At this very moment I’m working in a coffee shop in a hipster North Carolina mountain town, having spent the morning fishing for trout with a traditional Southern Appalachian fly called the Yallar Hammer. The fly was once tied with the feathers of the yellow-shafted flicker—a woodpecker, hence the “hammer” moniker—but get caught with the plumage from that rare bird these days and you’ll be fishing for a quarter to call your mama from jail.


trout2 trout3

So a couple of things have occurred to me over the last few hours. First, I am never getting a neck tattoo. The guy beside me looks like someone stitched a road-killed possum to the side of his face. And second, there are days—like this one—when I really, really like my job.

This website and so-called blog is sort of a highlight reel of my profession, I suppose. I get to put the best up here and leave the bad-hair days and rejected, red-lined prose off the air. Not a bad deal.  I’m making no promises that I’ll be posting fresh stuff thrice a week. Or even once a week. But hopefully I’ll keep things fresh enough for the occasional visit.

Two days ago I bought a handful of old Yallar Hammer flies from an 84-year-old one-handed mountain man who’d been tying those flies since he was 11 years old. He’s switched from woodpecker feathers to mourning dove quills, a nod to the changing world he’s navigated for 9 decades. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to tell the flies I bought from the ones he used as a kid.

I hope my place in the changing world of journalism operates the same way. These days, I’m published in tiny blips of on-screen electricity as often as old-fashioned ink. What hasn’t changed, however, is the power of a story. Yellow-shafted flicker feather or the plume from a mourning dove? The trout seem to buy it all the same. Thankfully, a good story seems to translate as well.
So thanks for reading. Or scrolling. Or watching. Or sharing. Or as is more common these days, all of them at once.

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28 May Going Long

Two years ago, if you would have told me I’d publish in a digital-only format a full 3,000-word narrative feature on snow goose hunting, I’d have laughed aloud. Digital “content” was largely short and pithy. No magazine I worked for had a place for long stories on their websites.
Well, the times they are a-changing, and about time, I’d say. Check this out: A full-length Field & Stream feature story that lives on the Web alone. Packed full of awesome photos and videos. Peppered with sidebars. And all packaged around enough words to fill 8 pages in a magazine. Welcome to the future (I hope) of digital storytelling.
Kudos to Field & Stream for dreaming up such a thing, to Yamaha for underwriting it, and to my ace editors Colin Kearns and Alex Robinson for making it all sing.
If this is the future of journalism—big ideas delivered in a big online way—I’m all in. Check it out:

Thanks to Nathaniel Welch for the awesome snow goose photography.

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