Sporting Life

  • By: John Gierach
  • Illustrations by: Bob White
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I went fishing a few days after my mother died, and not long before her funeral. This was after I asked my sister if she needed me for anything and she told me, no, everything was being taken care of. The subtext here is that I’m not the one in the family anyone would trust with such important arrangements.

Sporting Life

  • By: John Gierach
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The Sporting Life

  • By: John Gierach
  • Illustrations by: Bob White
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The goal of fly-fishing isn’t just to

Sporting Life

  • By: John Gierach
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Marginal conditions can bring their own reward.
A FRIEND CALLED FROM TEXAS. HE WAS standing at the crest of a hill where he’d walked with his second cup of morning coffee to get a cell signal. He’d driven down there from his place in western Colorado to deliver some

Sporting Life

  • By: John Gierach
  • Illustrations by: Bob White
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sporting life

Ice Out Bozeman

A gathering of fishing guides livin’ the dream.

Sporting Life

  • By: John Gierach
  • Photography by: Bob White
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WE WERE DRIVING OVER A DIRT-ROAD PASS THROUGH Wyoming’s Salt River mountains: two muddy wheel ruts running next to the stream we’d fished that afternoon, which this high up the drainage was narrow enough to straddle. It was near sunset on a clear September evening, and as we started down the back side of the pass the valley ahead of us was a bowl of purple shade trimmed in gold. Doug reached over and turned on the GPS unit in the pickup. A meandering red line stretching to a digital horizon appeared on the screen and a female voice said, “Street name unknown.”

Fireproof

  • By: John Gierach
  • Illustrations by: Bob White
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IT WAS THE KIND OF BONE-DRY, 98-DEGREE day that makes the enameled blue Colorado sky feel like an anvil on your head. It hadn’t rained in a month and everything was wilted, from the junipers and cottonwoods to the sleeping cats draped over the porch railing like dishrags. And taking up most of the northern horizon was the immense plume of smoke from the High Park fire, with slurry bombers swarming it like flies.

Sporting Life

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

What to do when even the guide says the weather’s too horrendous to bother? Keep fishing.

Sporting Life

  • By: John Gierach
  • Photography by: John Gierach
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The first Chinook salmon I caught here was a 25-pound buck. He made several long runs and spent quite a while bulldogging before I got him in the shallows where I could slip out of the boat onto firm bottom to land him. A moment comes while playing a big fish when things begin to turn in your favor, but even then there’s only one way it can go right and dozens of ways it can go wrong, all of which will be your fault. So when he was finally in the net, I felt more relief than triumph.

Sporting Life

  • By: John Gierach
  • Illustrations by: Bob White
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“I have fished for them,” I answered, carefully not claiming to be the consultant who could properly evaluate this fishery from a business perspective, but not exactly denying it, either.