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And for their part, when kids come home from the pro- gram, they’re talking about their conversations with the veterans and what they’ve experienced in nature, and they’re bringing that like a bottle of medicine and dumping it right into the nucleus of the living room. They are becoming advo- cates for the environment and bringing their families along with them. I had one parent tell me, “My daughter, when she came back she taught me how to recycle. I’m 55, and for the first time in my life we’re actually practicing that in our house.”


All that from a fishing trip?


I’m not really out there pushing fly fishing. My soul river is fly fishing, but your soul river could be backpacking, or it could be mountain biking, or writing a poem, or getting real into birds. What I want to highlight for people is that there’s a place in the outdoors where you can find your healing. It’s about knowing where to go that you can find the strength to deal with whatever life might send your way. I think that’s why I like fishing for steelhead. It’s not for the faint of heart. You’ve got to be a little nuts to go out there in the dead of winter, submerge yourself in freezing water waist- deep so that half your body goes numb while sleet and ice blow in your face. You’re standing there for eight hours trying to hook into that one fish, and chances are you won’t catch it. Guys go three, four years of not even hooking one. It took me five years before I hooked a steelhead. But you remain consistent in your approach, getting back to that river every opportunity you can get, regardless of the weather. It’s kind of like the wild is calling you and you’ve got to be constantly answering that phone.


Do you have a favorite fishing hole? Absolutely I do, but I’m sure not trying to let that information get out in the world—that’s not how anglers work!


Fair enough. How about a favorite river? I do love to go to the Deschutes River, so if I had to pick a favorite that would be it. But I’m always open to exploring new places across the nation, in search of whatever species I’m caught up in. But there’s this thing among anglers—it’s kind of like the fish becomes the by-product. Going fishing becomes spiritual. You’re searching for fish, but you’re also searching for happiness. You’re searching within yourself when you’re on the river. You’re searching for something you’ll probably never truly obtain.


INSIGHT · 31


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