Toner Mitchell

  • Voices from the river

    Remembering Duane Cook and his service to people

    A man holds a big trout

    I remember being a boy and watching my mother and grandmother yell at the television, as though the Vietnam War was Nixon’s fault and Kennedy and Johnson never existed. At the Memorial Wall in D.C., I remember tears rolling down my good friend’s face the moment he located the name of his father, who died when my friend was but two years old and had yet to commit his dad’s face to memory. My fishing buddy who worked at…

  • Voices from the river

    The gift of the skunk

    One learns not to expect much when fly fishing during the winter months. At least around here, or if you’re me. Regardless of the season, sometimes you step into a river and just know something’s off. The water’s not moving right, or the sound of the wind rings particularly empty and distant. I envy steelhead die-hards their familiarity with this feeling, the impending, inevitable void, and how they march into it undaunted.   A guy I know…

  • Voices from the river

    Old trout don’t need a mirror

    Unlike humans, trout only grow more beautiful with age. I know, I know, beauty’s on the inside, but come on. We are all aware of growing older and should be able to admit to being bothered by it sometimes.

    There are billions of reasons to love trout, their fickleness bordering on intelligence, their powerful reluctance to surrender in battle, and their impeccable taste in house and lot. The way trout look is enough by itself.  This latter attribute expresses itself throughout a trout’s life. Baby trout are like jewels, their scales and inquisitive eyes shooting sunshine in every direction. The…

  • Featured

    Native stories, for fish and people, are still untold

    Since 1867, an obelisk has stood in the center of Santa Fe’s downtown plaza to honor fallen Union soldiers in Civil War battles fought in New Mexico, as well as soldiers who fought against “savage Indians."   Another structure nearby honors Kit Carson who, as a Union colonel, did as much as anyone to push the Southwest’s Indigenous People to the brink of extinction. A statue on the grounds of one of Santa Fe’s prominent cathedrals honored…

  • Voices from the river

    These hips don’t lie

    Crawling around small creeks was an exercise in bad yoga, as I dragged myself to standing by grabbing branches and logs. When I finally had the hip examined, I was told what I already knew

    The John Muir Wilderness in California.

    Two summers ago, I agreed to join a backpacking trek with some friends I hadn’t seen since college.  Our mission -- honoring the life of a mutual friend who’d passed away -- took us deep into the Sierra Nevada range, a 54-mile journey filled with golden trout and jaw-dropping views of ice-etched peaks and verdant hanging valleys. As…