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.

Coasters

  • By: John Gierach
  • Photography by: Bob White
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I came to know about Michigan’s upper peninsula through the writing of Ernest Hemingway, John Voelker (a.k.a. Robert Traver) and, later, Jim Harrison and others. It may be a coincidence that many of the writers I like have a connection to this northernmost landmass of Michigan that, until the completion of the Mackinac Bridge in 1957, was so isolated it could only be reached from the rest of the state by boat.

Or maybe it’s just that the region naturally produces stories filled with tea-colored trout streams, beaver ponds hidden in swamps, and small towns where rules are gracefully bent by those with the right intentions. Whatever the reason, the UP is enshrined alongside the Serengeti, the Yukon Territory and Paris as a place made romantic by virtue of appearing in books. Which is to say, I am an innocent victim of literature.