If Hexagenia limbata isn’t the GOAT of all bugs, it’s at least squarely in the conversation, beginning with its sheer size and density. “Nothing in flyfishing even comes close to the spinner fall,” says the legendary Kelly Galloup in Chris Santella’s book, The Hatch is On! “I don’t care how big a salmonfly or Mother’s Day caddis or Hendrickson hatch you’ve seen, it doesn’t compare in pure biomass.”
A few months ago a family friend gave me a taxidermied brown trout that had been mounted in the 80s. When I went to the friend’s house to get the story behind the fish I somehow left with the rod and reel that had caught it, plus a whole lot more. This episode is the story of that fish, the rod, and the anglers that came before us.
I was caught between two worlds: human and piscine. I had been welcomed into the school. I moved with them, as they moved. I observed their feeding habits, their societal structures. I was like a salt-crusted, Ichthyological Jane Goodall, except that my silverbacks weren’t gorillas. They were bonefish. Scores of them. Possibly hundreds. All around me, glimmering tails flapped like the banners of their clan—a clan of which I was now an adopted son.
I wish I knew more about bourbon. All I really know is that I like the taste, and that there are some I enjoy more than others. This may be the result of growing up in Kentucky, where my friends and I were introduced to good bourbon at an early age. Had I grown up in Poland or Scotland or the Caribbean, perhaps I’d prefer vodka or Scotch or rum. But bourbon is my thing. The details don’t interest me, however. Percentages of various mashes, types of wood in the barrels, the aging process? I just don’t get it. From people with more discerning palettes, I’ll hear things like “vanilla overtones” or “notes of cherry and chocolate.” Here is part of an actual description I found on a website for one of my favorite Kentucky bourbons:
Clyde had been sitting in a barn outside of Gadsden, in West Etowah County, Alabama, for nearly six months, with a flat front tire and a massive gash in his gas tank. He wanted to rumble his Detroit muscles, but hadn’t done so for some time under my watch. I never developed any mechanical skills, but my friend Adam has worked on cars since his youth, tinkering with his grandfather in their garage in Decatur. He put on a new gas tank in a little more than an hour, performing what seemed to me a mannish miracle. Clyde was purring again, and my passion for flyfishing culture would be realized at the Fly Fishing Film Festival at Cahaba Brewing in Birmingham the following weekend.