US ARMY PARATROOPERS WITH THE 82ND AIRBORNE DIVISION PAUSE BRIEFLY DURING COMBAT OPERATIONS IN AFGHANISTAN TO MOURN THE LOSS OF TWO OF THEIR OWN.
US ARMY PARATROOPERS WITH THE 82ND AIRBORNE DIVISION PAUSE BRIEFLY DURING COMBAT OPERATIONS IN AFGHANISTAN TO MOURN THE LOSS OF TWO OF THEIR OWN.

Why flyfishing works for traumatically wounded combat veterans

The two pairs of boots sit next to each other on my closet floor: old, waterproof, knee-high LaCrosse Alphas, and the tan combat boots that I wore as a paratrooper fighting in Afghanistan. I'm attached to them both, but for very different reasons. I enlisted in 2008, at 41 years of age, during "The Surge"—when the Army was sending an increasing number of warm bodies to our country's ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. Imagine a strong riptide pulling surfers out to sea, sucking in the occasional beachcomber. That was me—feet in the water, thinking that I might want to surf too. Four years and two combat tours later, on leave from the 82nd Airborne Division, I was standing in New York's Cohocton River in my rubber boots, thankful to still be alive.

"The Mend" is a heartfelt story about a promising high-school football coach, who's star player is also his son. After losing the championship game to crosstown rivals, a rift forms in the family dynamic. Years later the father-son duo, with the help of a river, find a way to reconnect. Directed by Broc J. Isabelle.

RUSSELL PEDERSEN (FAR LEFT) BRINGS HIS BEER-MARINATED, MUSKY-INFUSED BANJO SOUND TO THE MAIN STAGE.
RUSSELL PEDERSEN (FAR LEFT) BRINGS HIS BEER-MARINATED, MUSKY-INFUSED BANJO SOUND TO THE MAIN STAGE.

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades' Russell Pedersen releases fishy solo album

Deliverance references notwithstanding, a drive to the river is always made better with banjo music. Good banjo tunes, like good trout streams or musky rivers, find just the right pace, yet still flow and wind toward unexpected places. Few people understand that better than Russell Pedersen, part-time guide and full-time banjo player for the critically acclaimed, Midwest-based bluegrass band, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades. In February, Pedersen released a solo album titled, Steal from the Rushes, a record written specifically with anglers in mind. "It's a time capsule of things I've seen and felt on the water," Pedersen says. "A musical collection of fishing memories."

FISHING AT FLETCHER'S COVE ON THE POTOMAC, ONE OF THE BEST SHAD FISHERIES IN THE COUNTRY.
FISHING AT FLETCHER'S COVE ON THE POTOMAC, ONE OF THE BEST SHAD FISHERIES IN THE COUNTRY.

Coming to terms with a new reality

This past December, I received an unwelcome holiday surprise. Our corporate overlords rounded up the staff at the magazine where I've worked since its inception, twenty-three and a half years prior, to announce our new direction. The upshot: We could still pursue exciting careers in magazine journalism, a vocation now rivaling that of lamplighters or bowling-alley pinsetters for growth potential. Just not at our magazine. They were shutting it down. We were all sacked. As Christmas bonuses go, I'd have preferred a Cabela's gift card.

PAYOFF ON THE MADISON, JUST UPSTREAM FROM ENNIS.
PAYOFF ON THE MADISON, JUST UPSTREAM FROM ENNIS.

A winter of discontent in Ennis

If your summer plans include a tailwater weekend along Montana's Madison River, you won't be alone. In early April 2018, after years of surveys, public meetings, and citizen advisory committees, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) released its draft Recreational Management Plan for the Madison, which included some alarming data. From 2013 to 2017, the number of angler days on the upper Madison doubled, from 88,000 to 179,000. Data also showed that commercial outfitter use had increased 72 percent from 2008 to 2017.

"HOW CAN I BE THE ONLY ONE OUT HERE FISHING?" PHOTO BY NICK PRICE.
"HOW CAN I BE THE ONLY ONE OUT HERE FISHING?" PHOTO BY NICK PRICE.

Just another walk on the beach

My primary tactic for snook in South Florida revolves around what my friend, Bear, calls "people avoidance." It's become a mantra that leads us toward, through, and past things—not only what river-section to float or campsite to choose, but when to pick up or set down certain hobbies, learn new ones, or abandon old ones entirely. It can sometimes be easy to forget about the people variable. But then you whip into a beach parking lot and find the lot full of minivans and the beach crawling with unrepentant shoobies.