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John Gierach: The Secret

John Gierach holding court.

A few years back, Gray Ghost Productions crafted a fly fishing film about Atlantic salmon. It was called “Turning Tail,” and it featured John Gierach, the renowned author and angler whose books line the shelves of avid trout bums everywhere.

The film was about the value of the Atlantic salmon and the tragedy that would befall us if we ever stopped trying to protect this increasingly rare fish.

I stumbled on a clip of Gierach, an extra scene filmed while the coffee warmed on a streamside fire in eastern Canada, that had virtually nothing to do with Atlantic salmon, but everything to do with life in general.

“If you want to go fishing, go fishing,” Gierach says, speaking to the camera. “If you think you’d like to be a writer, try and be a writer. You can’t waste your life making money and then go back and buy that life back.”

Then, as he looks out over the water at one of the last great salmon rivers in North America, he seems to realize what a rare experience traveling into wild to catch salmon is for most people.

“By the time somebody can afford this,” he says, “they’re almost too old to do it.”

The wicked irony of adventure fishing. It prices out most of the folks who can do it. It’s probably true of a lot of disciplines—remote, far-flung hunting, helicopter skiing … whatever it might be.

A few months back, I wrote a piece for an online magazine that essentially chronicled my daughter’s own journey through life. She’s an amazing kid … a wanderer. She’s discovering the world on her terms, and not letting expected norms dictate to her where she ends up next, or what she does for a living. She gets it, and she got it years before the revelation ever hit me. For me, if not for my profession, it would have been too late, as Gierach declared.

To say I’m proud of my little girl is an understatement. To hear John Gierach, late in his own life as a wanderer and an angler, espouse the life my 21-year-old daughter is choosing while she’s able to choose it is reinforcement.

Thanks John. And to Delaney … you go girl.