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A River Runs Through It by Jack

Jack writes, in a comment to 6-12 Hours a Day,

Years ago….seems like every damned thing in my life today was “years ago”….I used to take an occasional canoe trip down the Illinois River in NE Oklahoma. It was always best to go during the middle of the week to stay away from the drunk and rowdy rednecks who swarmed that charming stream on the weekends.

That river winds through a lot of rock and outcroppings that look very much like that shown above and I remember remembering that I could feel the sacredness of that river when out there alone with my lunch, a paddle, and fly rod.

All of that beauty has changed now of course. Too damned many people, too many chicken houses whose effluent trickles off of hillsides and throws the river’s nitrogen levels into despair. And worst of all, there are just too many damned people who have no regard for anything, not even themselves.

I grew up in the Deep South behind good pointers and setters and there were lots of bobwhites. My grandfather taught me to shoot long before commercial farming ruined quail habit. He also taught me how to use a fly rod and how to clobber the bream and bass by slipping along quietly in a tiny aluminum flat bottom boat years before running up and down a lake in a high-speed “bass boat” became the way to “fish.

And, he taught me to understand and manage horses long before private ownership of huge tracts of land and individual mini-farms fenced off all of the property over which we used to ride. He taught me a lot of other things too, too many to list here.

It’s most important to inhale love and exhale gratitude and my hope, no matter how this site goes, is that you enjoy every minute of your time.

Eventually, all things merge into one. . .

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anne July 12, 2022, 9:18 AM

    Very nice piece Jack!! I am an owner of a piece of land in “that” river valley. We battle the issues of overcrowding every day.

    The time will have to come soon when Republicans and Conservatives are no longer afraid to give voice to protecting our “sacred” spaces. A voice as loud as that of the environmentalist. A voice that will acknowledge that not all land must be developed–some not even by a little bit. A voice that acknowledges city developers have an obligation to develop large swaths of their profit to the development of local parks–which substantially reduces the impact of weekend tourists on those places of wild beauty.

    Those wild places which every human being in the world has a right to know in their heart “are out there” and to dream that someday they too will get to see it, to feel it, and to hold it in their heart’s memory when they return to their small condo unit in the city. Thank you and please excuse me if this is a duplicate post!

  • Taco Bowls Of Love July 12, 2022, 9:36 AM

    Rivers are a construct of the white male patriarchy and any fish will be redistributed in the spirit of egalitarian equity.

  • John Venlet July 12, 2022, 9:37 AM

    It was always best to go during the middle of the week to stay away from the drunk and rowdy rednecks who swarmed that charming stream on the weekends…Too damned many people, too many chicken houses whose effluent trickles off of hillsides and throws the river’s nitrogen levels into despair. And worst of all, there are just too many damned people who have no regard for anything, not even themselves.

    I share Jack’s lament. Thirty years ago, when I first took up the fly rod, I could cast a fly on the Holy Waters of the AuSable outside Grayling, MI, or deep in the Mason Tract of the South Branch of the AuSable, and run into very few folk. Weekends at that time upped the chance of running into others on those streams, but you could usually move deeper into the woods, or the further away from the easy access points and still find some solitude. Nowadays, I shy away from both of those famous trout waters and spend 95% or more of my time on the little crick my property is on, and though it does feed into that famous AuSable river, access is not easy, so I’m somewhat more insulated from all those people Jack laments being on the water. Though even my little crick’s solitude and privacy can be broken by kayakers, today. We rarely go the crick on weekends, any longer. It’s better heading up on a Sunday, staying til Thursday, and then high tailing back home. Sigh.

  • Dirk July 12, 2022, 9:42 AM


    Taco bowl of love, your rarer then a breakfast taco! That’s a tough act to follow.

  • jiminalaska July 12, 2022, 10:17 AM

    I don’t fault the no account trash drunk rednecks, ain’t no reason they shouldn’t have fun too. Me, I just moved a wee bit farther upstream, above the 64th parallel.

    May have ta head out a bit farther though the no account university woke greenies have the waters almost regulated to the point that if what your doing hasn’t been specifically ordered, it’s forbidden.

    Full disclosure; why yes, I do allow I have had a sip or two of beer in the middle of pristine streams and rustic rivers.

    • Dirk July 12, 2022, 4:55 PM

      Jim, I envoy you. My daughters in laws in Wasilla, outside of Palmer on a fire detail. She sends me pics daily. Know’s I missed my calling. I was born to be in Alaska. What a magnificent place.

      But then we all do the best we can, where we land.

  • ghostsniper July 12, 2022, 11:35 AM

    Where can a person find a decent piece of land for a reasonable amount of coin that hasn’t been contaminated by people? Does such a thing exist any more?

    • Vanderleun July 12, 2022, 11:43 AM

      It is always at hand…

      Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
          And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
          And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
      Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

      And for all this, nature is never spent;
          There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
      And though the last lights off the black West went
          Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs
      Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
          World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

      God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins

  • Mike Seyle July 12, 2022, 11:51 AM

    Five years ago I lived within an hour’s drive of Galveston, so I bought a kayak and took it out five times.

    • First time was actually to Freeport, late in the day, and I paddled out, rocking in the boat like a first-time bicycle rider. Every time I tried to turn around to get my fishing pole, I’d almost turtle. So I paddled back in and went home.

    • Second time out was to Freeport again. Pole was in front of me this time. Paddled out, caught nothing, and went home.

    • Third time out was to Galveston with some guy who was serious about it. That’s when I found the nifty frame I had built in the barn to slide the boat into and out of the bed of my truck had put two creases in the hull. The serious guy just shook his head. Lost a couple of fish before getting them in.

    • Fourth time out I fell at the landing (how the hell does a person get out of a kayak?), dropped my pole (with the expensive reel) into the salt water, but recovered it. As it was midweek, nobody saw me. Thank God for little favors.

    • Last time out was when I drove it halfway to Louisiana to meet an undercover cop who paid me with a rolled-up ball of cash as a bonus for the boat and bringing it to that spot, and then I left Texas and moved north, where I sold the truck. But I still have the rod and reel. I don’t think the reel has rusted, but it’s been a while.

    • Dirk July 12, 2022, 5:00 PM

      Kayaks can be tough, I have whitewater boats. Getting breech pinned in big water is not fun.

      No desire to be on the ocean in something smaller then 25 ft. There those rivers have animals that will eat you.

      I’m not planning on being on anything’s menu.

    • ghostsniper July 13, 2022, 5:39 PM

      A boat owners 2 best days are the day he bought it and the day he sold it.
      A boat is a hole in the water you throw all your money into.

  • Open Channel D July 12, 2022, 2:11 PM

    I went to grad school in New Mexico in the 80’s and ran into a high school classmate who was just getting into fly fishing there, so I did too. Spend many long weekends in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, never perfecting and barely improving my cast. Finally gave it up for 25 years until I discovered Tenkara fishing about 6 years ago. Only problem is, those great streams in New Mexico and Colorado are packed all the time now and/or have ram pumps pushing water out to someone’s weed grow.
    Went fishing in Croatia and Slovenia this spring and it was magical. I’m 64 now and that may have been my last fishing trip overseas, but I’ll still search for the magic here.

    • Dirk July 12, 2022, 7:19 PM

      Tenkara? Not familiar with the term. Here in Southern Oregon I can fish creeks for days on end, never see anybody. While I fly fish it ain’t pretty. Certain times of the year Ultra lite tackle with spinners is the ticket.

      Love your story.

  • Fletcher Christian July 12, 2022, 2:24 PM

    Maybe, a hundred years or so from now, the pleasures of such solitude will be back – in a different way, of course.

    A few times, I’ve wondered what it would be like to lie on my back in a high-tech pressure suit (maybe a skinsuit, with an inflatable mattress?) in the dark on the far side of the Moon, and spend a few hours, or a day, just looking. I think that would change a person…

    Or – A Belt prospector might well spend most of his time so far away from anyone else that the place his nearest neighbour lived in was a dimensionless point of light, if that. Some might like that, just as some of the old mountain men (I’m told) would pack up and move if they saw the smoke of a campfire.