Return to Fly Fishing

First Catch on New Orvis


“Even a blind hog will find an acorn once in awhile.” Unknown

I destroyed my right foot over 40 years ago and the doctor put it back together the best he could. When I walked, there was a considerable amount of pain and it steadily got worse. I was forced to abandon fly fishing around 1990 because of the pain.

I bought my first fly fishing set up in 1976. I was hooked, no pun intended. I was devastated when I walked away from it.

In 2020 I met doctor Sloan who said he could fix it and I eagerly agreed on the surgery. I had a chance to pursue fly fishing again.

I bought a new Orvis Encounter combo. As soon as the doctor gave me the green light, because it was winter, I headed to a near by lake. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t land that first fish.

Yesterday I tried another area lake but the fish Gods weren’t in my favor. Since I’m not a quitter I returned today bound and determined to get that first fish.

The day started out a little better. I got some strikes and hung two but didn’t get them in. I guess I wasn’t holding my mouth right.

Then it happened. I had one on. I got it in and got a picture. It was official! I began doing “Snoopy Dog” dances all around the lake, yes even though it was no Moby Dick. I can tell you one thing. A 66 year old fat man doing “Snoopy Dog” dances is not a pretty sight. The word “repulsive” comes to mind.

All in all it was a good day. The “no fish” curse had been broken! I gained confidence and everything was grand in Wayne’s World.

Sacred Space

“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.” – Joseph Campbell

I really never understood my overpowering compassion for the river until one day I came across this quote. I read it and the lightbulb in my head went off.

The river is my sacred space, or safe place, where I am free of societal pollution. Once I am in the presence of the river I am free to think with my mind, heart, body and soul. I have the ability to examine my own own beliefs and thoughts in great depth and to understand why I believe the way I do. I reach an understanding of who I really am and who I want to be. The revelation of what I want to accomplish in life and most importantly why becomes apparent. In this place I find a me that I can respect and love. If we can’t love ourselves what’s the point of loving at all?

With all the animosity in the world it is easy to plunge ourselves into the pit of depression which robs us of peace and happiness.

Seek your sacred space, find it and visit it frequently. The real you will soon become visible.

Gone But Not Forgotte

My best friend and me.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” – Josh Billings

On January 1, 2011 a wonderful Australian Shepherd was born. Little did I know how much she would change my life and bring so much joy to me. She unfortunately had a rough start in life. She was plagued with crystals in her urine that caused immense pain and at a year old she would have hip dysplasia surgery.

After surgery.

She was comfortable on the couch so this would be her hospital bed. I slept on the floor beside her until she was able to get on and off the couch by herself. She would try to chew her stitches and I refused to force her to wear the cursed collar so I improvised.

She adapted well to the shorts.

I was a farrier and Kate became my ride dog. We were together everyday and became quite inseparable. She loved going with me and took her job at riding shotgun very seriously.

Kate riding shotgun.
Kate with me on the job.

Kate was very well behaved and loved to take walks.

I think she is trying to tell me something.

I have never owned a dog as loving as Kate. She had to constantly be by my side and if she wasn’t she kept an eye on me to make sure I didn’t slip off without her.

My constant companion.
In the Christmas spirit.

I have had several dogs over the course of 60 plus years but none of them touched me like Kate did. I was her human. She was a great listener and after a rough day she always managed to make me smile and lift my spirits.

Then the fateful day of a vet visit, x-rays showed her lungs were filled with tumors and there was no cure. I was devastated and my whole world came falling down around me. I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it. She was my everything and more. I know there are those of you rolling your eyes and saying she is just a dog and to you I say you have never recognized nor appreciated the unconditional love of a dog. She was family. She filled me with joy and happiness.

Kate the puppy.
Her last day riding shotgun.

On Friday morning (Jan 24, 2020) I had to go into town. That morning she clung to me more than usual. When I opened the door she almost knocked me down to get to the truck. She was going with me come hell or high water. I had to help her into the truck and when we returned I had to help her out.

I had an appointment on Tuesday to have her euthanized to end her suffering. Little did I know but I think Kate did, that that would be her last ride and our last day together. We spent that day together and I cooked her a porterhouse steak for dinner. It was a good day.

She awoke me in the wee hours of Saturday morning, Jan 25 gasping for air. What happened then was down right ugly and heartbreaking. She fought hard and I felt so helpless. At 1:26 a.m. her fight was over. I had lost my best friend. At least her suffering was over.

Kate on her last day with me. RIP

Many won’t understand the devastation of losing a dog because they have not really understood the unconditional love they possess. The loss of Kate left a huge hole in my heart. I still come home looking for her to greet me. I am pretty much a loner by choice and I very rarely get lonely and when I do it is because of the void she left in my life. I will never forget her and the joy she brought me.

Meddlin’ Kate Jan 1, 2011 – Jan 25, 2020

Remembering a Childhood Friend

Some people come into our lives and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same.” – Unkown


My maternal grandparents owned a farm in Patton, MO when I was a young un. My grandpa farmed, raised sheep and had some dairy cows.

Across the holler from him lived a brother and sister by the name of Bob and Bert Hinson. Now Bob was a colorful ole gentleman. It was said he made some of the best moonshine that ever crossed your lips. I never grew tired of his stories and he never hesitated to entertain me.

On a ridge that overlooked his farm was a large grove of pines. Bob loved to sit in the middle of the grove, roll him a smoke and listen to the singing of the wind as it swirled through the pines.

I remember during one of my visits Bob asked me if I would like to join him in a visit to the ridge among the pines.

We made our way across the pasture and started our climb to the top of the ridge. Even though he was in his 70s you couldn’t tell it. He climbed the steep ridge with ease.

Once we reached the top we made our way to the center. The sound of the wind singing in the grove filled me with peace. Bob sat in his usual place on a fallen tree in the grove. Once settled in he pulled a rolling paper from his shirt pocket and a can of Prince Albert and filled it with his tobacco of choice.

He opened the Prince Albert can and carefully poured the tobacco into the paper and rolled him a smoke. He lit it and took a long drag. We sat there not speaking a word. We just sat there drinking in our surroundings and the symphony being played by the wind upon the pines. There was a great calm and life was good.

Bob finally took his last drag on his smoke and carefully put it out. He turned to me and said remember this boy, when you are one with nature you have everything you need to enjoy life. He then arose from his perch and we headed back to the house.

That was my last visit with my friend. He passed away shortly thereafter in his sleep. I often wonder what was on his mind that day. Did he know that his visit on earth was coming to a close? I am forever honored that he shared that time in the grove with me on that day. As far as I know that was his last visit to the pine grove. RIP my friend. You are still in my heart.

Released At Last

2 weeks after surgery

Today was my last visit to the doctor’s office. My surgery was on October 7. It seems to be a success. No pain except for the healing pains.

The purpose of this blog is to share my experience with my complete ankle replacement so those having the same surgery could know what to expect.

I have to admit the first 3 days after surgery was tough. I had never been in this much pain. What had I done? Am I crazy?

Finally the pain began to subside. It was at least bearable. The crutches were a nuisance. Everything I did was a chore. Nothing was easy.

When he moved me up to the walking boot life was grand. I could do a lot more. I was even graining the horses. I did some trout fishing. The day after Christmas I graduated to a regular shoe.

This presented some problems. I was having to deal with a lot of swelling. Now I had to figure out how to get my foot in the shoe. Another problem was I was unable to use those muscles for 12 weeks and they were very weak. That made it hard to walk.

I take it day by day. There is improvement every day. It could take 8 months to a year to completely heal.

Would I do it again knowing what I know now? Absolutely! The benefits outweigh the tough times after surgery.

I hope this helps those who are considering going through the surgery. it’s a tough decision. I am glad I chose surgery.

Sunrise or Sunset?

“The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere, the dew is never dried all at once, a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in turn, as the round earth rolls.” – John of the Mountains: The unpublished journals of John Muir

Just as life must come full circle so must the day. No matter how good or bad our lives may be, the sun is going to rise and set in the west. With each new day we are given a new lease on life. What we do with this opportunity is totally up to us as to what we want to undertake that day.

I prefer to start my day by thinking about all the things I have to to be grateful for. It’s is important to start our day with positive thoughts. Negative thoughts bring us down and attack our minds. This leads to depression that poisons our lives robbing us of happiness.

One day I was asked, “Do you prefer to watch a sunset or a sunrise?” I was speechless and for those of you who know me know that doesn’t happen very often. I had really never thought about it. I love them both. I didn’t have an answer.

It can be said that the sunrise is representative of the beginning. The birth of a new day. A time to finish what one didn’t get done the day before and to begin new projects. A chance to reflect on the things one completed and turn your attention to what one still needs to accomplish and set new goals.

The sunset signals the day is coming to an end. The fingers of darkness closes in upon the light of the day until Mother Earth is engulfed in total darkness. Time now to give thanks for being granted another day in our book of life. An opportunity to evaluate what wasn’t accomplished. Instead give thanks for what was finished. Rome wasn’t built in a day. The sun will rise again and one will be given the opportunity to tend to unfinished business. Soon sleep will begin to invade the body. Sleep is needed to give your body time to heal any damage that one has done to their body during the course of the day. One’s eyes grow heavy and soon sleep overtakes us.

The day has come full circle. The day has come to an end until the rising sun brings a new day and the cycle begins anew. Once again the sun will rise in the east and set in the west. Unfinished business will be awaiting and decisions about new projects will have to be made. I have a great love of both and it is impossible for me to say which one I prefer. I am just grateful I was afforded the opportunity to enjoy the grand show.

Recreational Fishing

Smallmouth Bass

“If Fishing is a religion, fly fishing is high church.” – Tom Brokaw

Recreational fishing is the nation’s second most popular outdoor activity after jogging. Each year nearly 1 in 7 Americans grab their rods and reels and head to the water giving chase to different species of fish.

From 2011 to 2019, freshwater fishing population grew 11%. Anglers 16 or older spent $48 billion a year on equipment, licenses, trips and other fishing related items. This in turn supported 828,000 jobs in this country. Recreational fishing in some rural areas helped support entire communities. In 2010 $1.45 billion was generated by anglers for fisheries conservation efforts. Fishing is also responsible for putting smiles on the faces of children. That is something you can’t put a price tag on.

Rainbow Trout

Speaking from my own experience, fishing is therapeutic and cheaper than a psychiatrist. The peace and joy I get while fishing is priceless. It recharges the spirit and calms the soul.

I fly fish, tight line fish and fish with limb lines. I enjoy them all but fly fishing, I think, is the most rewarding.

I enjoy catching all the species of fish but trout and bass fishing are my favorite. Even if you get skunked and catch nothing it isn’t a wasted day. The solitude you find from fishing is a reward in itself.

Pumpkinseed

If you have never got to experience fishing I encourage you to do so. Most state’s conservation departments have programs that teach the basics and help beginners to get started. For the seasoned angler I encourage you to take a child and introduce them to the world of recreational fishing.

Gone Fishing!!!!

Facing Fear

He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

At the end of Liberty Hollow, near the town named Fear, was a modest homestead occupied by a humble two room shack. Void of all the modern conveniences, electricity and running water. It backed up to a gentle slope of Freedom Mountain. Within the walls of this shack lived a mountain of a man, strong as an ox but as gentle as the falling snow.

He stayed to himself and lived a simple life. Lived off the land and never took more than what he needed to sustain his way of life.

Once a month he would venture into town to get supplies he couldn’t produce himself i.e., flour, lard, coffee and a plug or two of Days Work. Standing at 6’4” with his salt and pepper beard cascading to the middle of his chest, jet black hair resting on his shoulders and his chiseled physique made him quite intimidating to the towns people.

He was never violent, showed nothing but kindness and appeared happy, but the inhabitants of Fear were afraid of him. Was it the unknown that they feared? No one really knew anything about him. No one attempted to befriend him or get to know him. They would cross the street to avoid him. Fear was in control.

He was surrounded by mystery. He talked to the woodland creatures and doctored them when they were hurt. The “Keeper” of Mother Nature’s woodland creatures? They had no fear of him.

The inhabitants of the town of Fear thought he was possessed and added to their fear of him. This behavior wasn’t normal. It’s sad how when folks don’t understand something or somebody they are governed by fear.

Years went by with no change. One day he didn’t show up in town to pick up his supplies. Another month came and went and he was a no show. Town folk just assumed he died but their fear of him kept them from investigating.

Fear breeds rumors and it wasn’t long until rumors started circulating around town. Some said he died from a lonely heart, others said he went mad and took his own life and one rumor was that what possessed him transformed him into a coyote and is running wild in the wilderness to this day.

Some town folks recall one odd night when the coyotes became restless and their mournful howls could be heard throughout Liberty Hollow. It was as if they were mourning. The other woodland creatures seemed to go into hiding for a week. Had the “Keeper” of Mother Nature’s woodland creatures been called home? Fear kept the town’s people from ever knowing.

Never let fear rule your life. Always face your fears and put them behind you. You will be a better person for it. Facing fear not only changes your life it also encourages those around you to do the same. When we let fear control our lives we rob ourselves of peace, love, happiness and quality of life. Fear can be defeated but we have to do it ourselves, no one can do it for us. If just one person would have faced their fear of this man it could have turned the whole town around and there could have been a happy ending. After all the animals had no fear of him. They saw the good in him.

A Cold Day of Trout Fishing

Rainbow Trout caught at Giessing Lake

Fishing provides that connection with the whole living world. It gives you the opportunity of being totally immersed, turning back into yourself in a good way. A form of meditation, some form of communion with levels of yourself that are deeper than the ordinary self.” – Ted Hughes

My childhood friend David Tripp drove in from Texas for a visit. Now that only meant one thing; fishing trip. We decided to invade Engler Park in Farmington, MO and try our luck at fishing for trout in Giessing Lake.

Temp was supposed to be near 50. It would have been nice if someone would have told Mother Nature. David opted for a fly rod and I grabbed my spin cast. I tied a yellow Glo-ball/bait with a quarter ounce split shod and a bobber about 2 feet above the Glo-ball.

It started out really slow with no bites. I had been sitting there for what seemed like 3 months and couldn’t capture the interest of not one trout. Wow! I have never been skunked on this lake before. My reputation is at stake! After about 20 minutes of sitting there freezing my arse off, BAM! Trout on. The fight was on. This fish was having no part of this. I finally landed him.

First trout of the day.

I released him back into the lake, and cast my line back out. I had got my hands wet while freeing the trout back into the water. Yeah I know not real smart. It wasn’t long until I couldn’t feel my fingers and kept checking to make sure they hadn’t fell off. BAM! Number 2 was now on the end of the line and about 40 minutes later I landed number 3.

Second of the day!

As I sat on my stool the wind was showing no mercy. I had begun shivering and they could hear my teeth chattering three counties away. Earthquake! False alarm. It was just the ground moving from my shivering body. Reminded me of that song “I feel the earth move under my feet….”. My dad always said I didn’t have the sense God gave a turnip and at this point I was beginning to think he was right. Finally after what seemed like an eternity I was able to land number four.

Third one of the day!

My friend David caught three and got them to the bank where they managed to slip the hook. Good for him he didn’t have to get his hands wet releasing them.

All in all, even though I felt like I was a popsicle, it was a good day. I love to watch David work a fly rod. As I sat there in the cold my Mom’s words from when I was a young un came back to haunt me, “Now make sure you dress warm.” Why didn’t I think of that?

The Road to Recovery

Fly Fishing Therapy

One bad habit we seem to have is taking life for granted. Take my mobility away from me and I become lost. I panicked and I didn’t function right. So you can only imagine how excited I was when the doctor told me I could mothball the crutches. Woohoo! Yes! I am close to recovering my full mobility! One step at a time.

I decided to celebrate by visiting Lakeview Lake located in the Bonne Terre City Park. I arrived at 8 am and I am here to tell you it was the beginning of a beautiful day. The temp had already climbed into the 40s. I had purchased a new Orvis Encounter fly fishing combo and I was itching to try it out.

As I was working the fly outfit I realized I was still pain free. Life is good unfortunately the fishing wasn’t. There are benches that were installed around the park so I decided to park my fat arse on one of the benches and become a nature watcher. I had some ducks and geese who were eager to entertain me. They put on a performance worthy of an Emmy. I watched them for a good 45 minutes until the geese decided to take flight and terminate the performance.

I grabbed the Orvis and began fishing again but to no avail. The fish obviously weren’t willing to cooperate.

One reason I chose Lakeview for my first outing was because there is a paved walking track around it. It provides easier walking than the perimeter of the lake and I didn’t know if I would still have a hitch in my git along or if it would be a good day.

After 40 years of chronic pain I wasn’t really sure what to expect on my first outing. In the back of my mind every time I took a step I was sure I was going to be overtaken by a painful step but it never happened. Not one bad step. A little faith goes a long way when you believe.

I didn’t catch any fish but it was a very enjoyable day. I know I have a long way to go before I am completely healed but I am off to a damn good start.