Lures and Flies


Lazy Ike and Lucky 13Lazy Ike and Lucky 13

Bomber and Tiny Lucky 13

Bomber and Tiny Lucky 13

Like many Southerners, I was ruined for church by early exposure to preachers.  So when I need to hear the sigh of the Eternal, I find myself drawn to a deep hollow between Fork Mountain and Double Top Mountain on the eastern flank of the Blue Ridge.  This is where the Rapidan River plunges through a hemlock forest and through gray boulders that jut from the ferny earth like the aboriginal bones of old Virginia.  This is a place of enlightenment for me, the spot where I received the blessing of my middle years.  Here, after three decades of catching fish, I began learning to fish.

Howell Raines, Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis

Finally I get around to posting the three watercolor sketches I finished up yesterday afternoon (Thursday) after school, while inhabiting my Man Cave.  Tonight, I sigh with a deep sense of contentment, enjoying my first evening of Spring Break, not returning to school until March 18.

Though I doubt that I will get any fishing in during this break (there is so much work to do and I welcome the space for it), I have turned recently to watercolor sketching these vintage pieces of fishing memorabilia.

I am opening this meditation with these words from Howell Raines, whose book changed my life profoundly.  He and I live in parallel worlds–I learned to fish as a young boy, and it was always my passion, but when I took up the fly rod about ten years ago, everything changed in ways that carry religious overtones for me.

I have titled the top piece “Transitions,” because of my shift from bass lures to trout flies about a decade ago.  All the subjects in the sketch are vintage.  The lures are borrowed from dear friends of mine.  And then, a student a couple of years ago gave me a beautiful wooden box filled with vintage flies!  I have been randomly selecting them for watercolor sketches as well.  I dare not fish the vintage flies though.  I just love to look at them, along with a few vintage bamboo fly rods and antique fly reels I have acquired over the past decade–great for looking at and watercoloring, but not for real use anymore.  I treasure them like museum pieces.

Riverbend Resort, South Fork, Colorado

Almont, Colorado, about to enter the Taylor River

And of course, I couldn’t resist inserting a picture of myself during happier days.  The Taylor River, a few summers ago, lifted me out of this world of business, and inserted me into a paradise where time seemed to evaporate.  I felt those Howell Raines sentiments, with the Eternal breathing gently in my ear, and my heart palpitating every time a brown rose to sip a dry fly.  The babbling sounds of a Colorado mountain stream just have a way of changing the way I breathe the moment I step into the waters.

Finding the Seam


Thanks for reading.



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4 Responses to “Transitions”

  1. Vickie Cunningham Photography Says:

    Hoping you enjoy your spring break! There’s always too many things to do, aren’t there? You sure look happy in the fishing photo!


  2. djdfr Says:

    He is closer to us than our jugular vein.


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