Author’s note: Being a writer, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to chronicle my heart attack. I started on the life flight and continued to write my thoughts for the next couple of months. Some of the thoughts were dark.

I want everyone to know that the dark places I write about in this essay are no longer where I’m at. I’ve made several trips into the mountains this spring, and all aspects of my life are under control.

The future looks bright.




Robert Robinson

Word count: 1,648

I closed my eyes, and the familiar whop, whop, whop of the chopper carried me back forty years—I was twenty-three, flying over dark green forests, my whole life ahead of me. I opened my eyes, and the unfamiliar computerized gages in front of the pilot sucked me back—I was sixty-three, flying over the San Rafael desert, having a heart attack.

The flight nurse came over the headphones asking me how I was doing. I gave her a thumbs up. I seemed to be the only one on board who wasn’t concerned. I’d been expecting a heart attack; my father had died of the same heart attack—the one they call the widow maker—when I was sixteen and he was forty-seven. I figured I’d been living on borrowed time any old how.

The pilot came over the headphones, “That’s Grand Junction up ahead.”

“Got to be,” I replied, “there’s nothing else out here.”

He chuckled and worked the chopper through another band of turbulence. The turbulence didn’t scare me, I was probably checking out anyway, but I didn’t want to be responsible for the deaths of these people who were trying to save my life.

Judging from the concern of the nurses, the outcome looked iffy. Right up until I had the heart attack, I’d thought I was in fairly good health. But heart attacks don’t happen out of the blue; they take years to develop. I’d been sick for a long time. I just hadn’t known it.

My father told me you start dying the day you are born. Technically, I suppose that’s true. I grew up in small mobile homes that had permanent layers of cigarette smoke hanging at nose level. I’d started smoking myself when I was eighteen. I’d been a sailor for nine years, doing all the things sailors do. I’d smoked, ate whatever I wanted, and, at one time, drank heavily. But I was a weight lifter. I was healthy, right? Anyway, whatever was going to happen was up to God and the doctors now—I’d done my part. As I’d always hoped, I wasn’t afraid of the reaper when he came close, rested his boney hand on my shoulder, and whispered of my transgressions—I felt surprisingly detached.


After the surgery, I noticed I didn’t care about much, at least not the things I’d previously cared about: fine cigars, old whiskey, young women of uncertain moral fiber—none of which are conducive to longevity. I was overcome by a wave of apathy. Even my writing didn’t excite my interest. I still wrote, but it didn’t seem important. Long ago, my mountains taught me that I wasn’t important—the heart attack left no doubt. My existence didn’t matter—never had. And I wasn’t sure I had anything worthwhile to say. I can’t really be specific. It was just a general feeling of not giving a good goddamn about anything.

The first thing I did when I got home was delete over half my phone contacts. I asked myself two questions: (1) Did I tell this person I had a heart attack? (2) Am I going to tell this person I had a heart attack? If the answer to either question was no, their number got shitcanned. Friends? I’ve a few, but not as many as I’d thought. There’d been a flurry of phone calls right after I got home, but they tapered as my friends confronted their mortality through my brush with death. It’s as if they were afraid they’d catch death from me, as if heart attacks were contagious.


My world changed with that concentrated pressure in the center of my chest. And while I’m doing better each day, I’ll never be out of the woods. The damage is permanent. I’ve an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. I carry nitroglycerin tablets around now to put under my tongue the next time I tip over—I can’t tell you how much that changes your attitude. I should be thankful to be alive—but I’m often not. I don’t like my house anymore; it doesn’t feel like home, it’s not safe and cozy, and it’s got bad juju.

I feel fragile, and I’ve never felt like that before. I don’t like it. I’m hoping it goes away. Having always been a big strong guy (I was lifting weights when I had the heart attack), it’s hard to get my head around this new fragility. I keep thinking I should be dead, and when the medical bills started rolling in, I was sorry I wasn’t.

The take-this-or-die medicine they tell me I need costs two-thirds my monthly income. Then there’s the cycle of adjusting to the medications, feeling like shit until you adjust, changing medications, feeling like shit again. The bills kept coming, and I regretted going to the ER in the first place. I should’ve just walked into the San Rafael and disappeared. I know I shouldn’t think like that—but there are times. I live one day at a time now, leaving each day to its own concerns. On most days, I don’t care about the bills; I can’t do anything about them, can’t negotiate them, can’t pay them, and It’s an exercise in futility to worry about things you can’t do anything about—on most days.

My reprieve from death seemed to be a conspiracy cooked up by big pharma and the healthcare industry. As the medical bills piled up (totaling well over one hundred and thirty thousand dollars), I started weighing my options. One option was suicide.

I looked at the mountains from my house and longed to walk into them and disappear, and I wondered if I could make a one-way trip. When the future was just death, it wasn’t scary. Everybody dies—no big deal. But now the future was poverty and sickness. And I was afraid of that future. So the thought that I could check myself out and avoid a drawn-out process began to look inviting. The first thing I needed was a will.

Believing organized religions were invented to prey upon the fears of mankind and provide employment opportunities for the shiftless, serving little purpose other than steering those who feel the need for ceremony and mysticism away from ritual cannibalism and child sacrifice, I made arrangements to be cremated with no funeral service. That way my few friends wouldn’t be saddled with having to attend a meaningless ceremony where they’d wind up feeling guilty for lying about what a great guy I was—you’re always a great guy after you buck out. I didn’t tell the doctors about the suicidal thoughts. They’d pump me full of brain pills. I’d wind up sitting on the porch, looking at mountains I can’t reach, and drooling on my shirt. And fuck a bunch of that.

I’m not a particularly good person; I’m not a particularly bad person either. So why had I been spared? The widow maker kills people every day. Had God stepped in to save my life . . . or am I a freak of modern medicine? I’d been saved just because they could. But for how long? Long enough for big pharma and big healthcare to strip me of everything I’d worked for all my life? And what did any of it matter anyway? I tried to think of reasons to hang around. There wasn’t many—my dog, Touch, who’s getting long in the tooth herself, and seeing the high country, fishing its streams, catching its bright trout. Not overly compelling reasons to live, but, perhaps, good enough.


I felt like shit most of the time—sick to my stomach—and I wondered if that was my new normal. I dropped a lot of weight because I didn’t feel like eating; nothing tasted good. On one hand, they tell me to give up salt, sugar, tobacco, and booze; on the other hand, they tell me to live life, which makes me wonder what they know that they’re not telling me. And at this point, what’s the point? I did quit some bad habits, things I didn’t like about myself. Finally, I reached a point where I realized feeling like shit wasn’t my new normal. I started thinking I’d make it . . . and I started wanting to make it.

I’m trying to get healthy enough to hike into the mountains this summer. I want to sit on the bank of a mountain stream, feel the sun on aching shoulders, and try and figure out where I went wrong. My trips into the left fork may be over, though, and it’s a bummer to think some of the places I love to go may now be out of reach. When I tell the doctors and nurses that I like hiking and fishing in the backcountry, they get blank looks on their faces.

There may be places I can’t go anymore, places I’ve looked at for the last time, and that’s okay. I don’t want to be struggling all the time, and some of the hikes were already struggles. But I remember those places. Nobody can take them from me.

I’m kept alive now by drugs: drugs to thin the blood, drugs to control the pressure, and drugs to control the rhythm. My life seems artificial and strange; my body, a traitor. I look in the mirror and think, “That guy should be dead, cremated, scattered.” My life is divided into before and after. And there’s this sadness. My eyes well up over sick children, abandoned pets, the lonely, and I want to drop to my knees, rip at my clothes, and cry. I don’t know what good I’ve done or what my life means; however, I now know what it’s worth—one hundred and thirty thousand dollars and rising.

© Robert Robinson 2016 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Robinson and <flyfishingthehighcontry.com> with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


There’s nothing that turns me off more than going to a blog and discovering that it’s all about self-promoting somebody’s book. Yet here I am self-promoting a collection of essays I just published. By my calculations, I’ve less than a dozen loyal readers, so I will only bother you this one time.

I just published a collection of essays titled “Rocky Mountain Pastels.” It’s available on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Rocky+Mountain+Pastels+by+Robert+Robinson

I would appreciate your support. Thank you.


Please forgive the intrusion. Rob




Robert Robinson

Word count: 1,459


The Mountain West is a hard, unforgiving country. It’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security by its disarming beauty. How could anything bad happen in the midst of these majestic mountains? I often find myself in remote canyons marveling at this stunning, wild land, giving no thought to the many ways these mountains claim lives. But spring runoffs can trap you for days; rock slides tumble without warning; summer’s flash floods riot through slot canyons without a cloud in the sky; winter’s avalanches whisper down slopes, flattening and covering everything in their path; and unpredictable mountain weather can surprise and kill at any time of the year. But I hear the mountains’ siren call and go, giving little thought to their dangers.

Twenty-one people lost their lives to flash flooding in Utah last year—in one day. There were others lost: some fell off trails, some became lost and died of hypothermia, some were killed in back-country avalanches, and at least one I know of walked into the high country and just disappeared (those are the ones I envy). To walk into majestic beauty and disappear, become a permanent part of the country I love, fade into a mystery. What could be better than that?

The mountains hide their mysteries, like Everett Ruess, who in 1934 went in fully equipped with two mules and all the gear never to be seen again. They found the mules and gear, but they never found him. He loved the country he wrote about—loved it, walked into it, and became permanently part of it.

I like to think I’m prepared to survive the high country when I’m up there, but there’s really no way to be totally prepared. When the mountains claim lives it’s always sudden, and nature’s awesome power seems inevitable, as if it’s your destiny.

Surprisingly, flash floods aren’t the number one killer in the backcountry. That designation goes to gravity through falls and avalanches (40%). I would have thought lightning the number one killer, as that’s what I see the most of and what gives me the greatest concern. But death in the backcountry mostly boils down to unfamiliarity with the country (which leads to unpreparedness), stupidity (nature has a way of culling the stupid), and bad juju (being in the wrong place at the wrong time). While only 1% of backcountry fatalities are due to animal attacks, bears do take a few here and there—about one every five- to seven-years nationwide. The bear population in Utah has doubled in the last 15 years, going from 2,000- to 4,100, so the number of bear encounters will likely go up. It’s been a while since a fatal bear encounter in Utah, but not that long sense a mauling. It’s hard to know who’s at fault when it happens. Last year 91 bears were euthanized for aggressive behavior—no humans were put down for stupidity, as far as I know.

I don’t know anybody who doesn’t get the bear boogers from time to time in the backcountry—that feeling that something’s watching you. The good news is bears usually un-ass the area if they know you’re around—what’s watching you is probably just a mountain lion. They don’t run away; they hide and watch. I ran into a sport from California at the fly-shop who thought what was needed was a bear repellant similar to mosquito repellant that you could just smear on and be good to go. I told him there was some stuff called bacon grease . . . but it only worked on people from California and New York City.

Although I’ve camped and fished in bear country for over thirty years, I’ve only seen three bears in the wild. One crossed the road in front of me when I was on my way to go fishing and camping and I had to slow down to keep from hitting it. It was a huge cinnamon colored black bear that went from ambling along fat, dumb, and happy to an impressive burst of speed that demonstrated, indeed, there’d be no outrunning a bear if one was after you. I knew that area had a substantial bear population from the many bear encounters I’d heard about over the years. One incident in particular stuck with me, as when it happened I was sleeping under the stars in my bedroll just a few miles away.

A bear broke into a camper shell, grabbed a twelve-year-old girl, and was dragging her off when her grandfather managed to beat it off with a flashlight. I learned later that she’d went to sleep with chips and snacks in her sleeping bag, which is always a bad idea in bear country—unless you’re from California or New York City.

Last spring, I topped out on a rise and spotted a bear hauling ass up the opposite ridge—nothing runs like that but a bear. The speed and ease with which that bear navigated that steep slope was impressive, and I was glad it was headed the other way.

Another time I was driving up a road that parallels a river I regularly fish and came up on a guy and two children approaching a bear that was busy devouring a road-kill deer. The Guy and his children were within twenty-foot of the bear. The guy was snapping pictures and encouraging the children to stand closer. The bear was totally focused on what it was doing and unaware of the spectators. It reminded me of a bumper sticker I once saw that read, “Stupid kills, but not enough to really help.”

The high foreheads say we don’t have grizzlies in Utah, but they have them in Wyoming and Idaho, so I’m left to assume they stop and turn around at the state line. And we all know what happens when we assume.

I spent one summer in Wyoming fishing an area known for its grizzly population and found the blasé attitudes of the locals interesting. A rouge bear was killing cattle in the area, and the local newspaper had a contest—“Name the cow killing bear.” That fall a local bow hunter was mauled and chased up a tree by the bear.

I was fishing a small creek in the mountains above Star Valley, Wyoming that was loaded with twelve- to fourteen-inch brookies and had decided to keep three or four for supper. I’d forgotten my creel and was just tapping them on the head and dropping them into the leg of my hip waders. I ran into another fisherman coming from the opposite direction who asked, “Did you see those bears?”

“What bears?”

“A sow and two cubs just crossed the creek right behind you.”

“Cool,” I replied.

I started to head on up the creek when I remembered the dead fish stuffed inside my waders. I was a walking fish Taco. I decided to get my fish smellin’ ass back to the truck most ricky tick. My pucker factor was off the scale as I made my way back, and I wondered just how much stupid a guy could get away with before it did kill.

On one drainage I fished that summer, I ran into a wild-eyed fisherman who was babbling about a bear chasing a yearling deer right through his camp, which gave me the boogers for the rest of the day.

The more you learn about bear attacks the easier it is to booger yourself. For instance, most people are attacked from behind after being stalked and never know the bear is there—comforting to think about when you’re hiking down a trail. And bears don’t lumber through the woods like drunken sailors. They move silent and cat-like—especially when they’re stalking. Again, tidings of comfort and joy. If you frequent bear country, the best thing you can do is embrace the old maxim—sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you.

The forest service thoughtfully puts up notices informing the public that they are in bear country. I hadn’t paid much attention to them—I already knew I was in bear country. I figured they just passed on the most basic of information like, “This is moose country. Don’t you eat that yellow snow!”

Once, when I stopped to use the last facilities between me and the howling wilderness, I found one of these notices tacked to the door of the shitter declaring this bear country and warning menstruating women to be especially weary. I’d never given that much thought until then, but I could see the hand of God at work. I started thinking I should’ve done more camping when I was married.


© Robert Robinson 2016 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Robinson and <flyfishingthehighcontry.com> with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.





On Feb. 15th I had a massive heart attack. They lifeflighted me to Colorado and rushed me into surgery. I’m back home now and on the road to recovery. I’ll have something posted in about a month. Thanks for your patience.–Rob






Robert Robinson

Word count: 1,440

Fly-fishing is my excuse for getting into the high country and away from people. Antisocial? . . . Maybe. I prefer anti-bullshit.

In the high country, I don’t have to listen to it, watch it, and digest it to form bullshit opinions based on it. In the high country, nobody’s trying to sell me gold, insurance, reverse mortgages, or magic pills—telling me my life sucks because I don’t have two bathtubs and erectile dysfunction—while warning me to seek immediate medical attention should I get an erection that lasts longer than four hours . . . right. (I’d be calling The New York Times first.) In the high country, nobody’s trying to sell me blood-pressure medication with side effects: “Heart failure that could result in death. . . . And erectile dysfunction.” (I think I’ll just let the high blood pressure play out. Thank you very much.) In the high country, I don’t think about those poor bastards below who sell all they’ve worked for to buy $750.00-a-pill extended life. No thanks. As much as I’d like more time to enjoy cutthroat trout, fall colors, and mountain streams I refuse to prolong the process of bucking out in order to enrich some greedy flatlander.

In the high country, I can be where neither the bull nor I matter in the overall scheme, where my pathetic interpretations of the beauty around me fall short of reality, where the blank canvas of my mind as I stare at snowy peaks outlined against a hard blue sky with no thoughts invading the landscape is reason enough to have made the climb. And now that I’m a seven on a scale of one to dead, I regret not having come to the party sooner.

I regret wasting over nine years of my life on active-duty service to an ungrateful nation. I regret wasting my youth chasing the dollar, trying to conform in a society based on greed and stuff while wishing I was someplace else; I just wasn’t sure where that was until I came to the mountains, felt at home in their wild places, and learned to reap the reward of solitude’s solace. I regret wasting so much time chasing tail when the love I needed was better provided by a good retriever. I don’t hate people, I just prefer the company of a good dog. There’s no bluster or pretense to them, and unlike people, who put conditions on love—I’ll love you no shit till you get old, fat, and bald . . . or I run off with Mr. Buck Naked—they love you unconditionally . . . no matter what kind of an asshole you are. Oh, I’ve got human friends, but not many. My father told me I needed at least six friends, as it took six to carry your coffin. But I realized that I could be cremated and cut that number down to one—which took a lot of pressure off me. The mountains, retrievers, and trout give and ask nothing for their lessons on love, humility and unselfishness.

In the high country, I found something of spiritual value. At first it seemed to be always just on the other side of the creek, just on the other side of the mountain, just on the other side. But after making a few crossings and topping out on a few trails, I found it. It was humility. And I found that o-plenty.

I couldn’t be anything but humble while wondering how the hand of time formed mountains, watching a flash flood bear down on me in a burn-scared canyon, or holding the throbbing colors of a cutthroat trout in my hand. In the high country, I’m a passing shadow in a state of grace with no value other than compost, and I take comfort in that.

Why fly-fishing? Fly-fishing keeps me from becoming a mountain-top-monk in sackcloth and ashes. And treble-hook dredgers, corn soakers, and stink-bait aficionados were conceived without benefit of clergy—and my parents were married. That’s why.

Fly-fishing is honest; you have to do so many things right to catch an honest trout. Trout rise honestly to the fly, respond honestly to the set of the hook, fight honestly for their lives, and honestly haul ass when they’re released. When fly-fishing, I’m the deceiver. But it’s not the same as deceiving a trout with a gooey glob of stink bait. And although fly-fishing is based on deception, I find it a much more honest pursuit than most other human endeavors.

In the high country, there’s no cell service, and I make it a point not to tell people where I’m going (mostly because I never know myself). I usually go alone; the quiet beauty of the mountains is companion enough. I’m alone, but never lonely—there’s trout, birds, and ghosts for company, and laughing streams, whispering aspens, and distant echoes of lost loves for conversation.

I learned at an early age what I perceived as tangible, permanent, and necessary were shadows that flittered away in a moment, never to return, hard to remember once gone. But human beings are narcissistic. We think our shit matters when it doesn’t, not really. We all go out the same way we came in—with our ass hanging out (ask any funeral director). Nothing matters to the mountains, and that’s the point. That’s what I learned fishing mountain creeks and finding the rhythm of a handmade fly rod, a rhythm that seems in tune with the bubbling streams, pulsing cutthroats, and beating of my heart. I learned patience, as well, fishing for the mountain’s little creatures of color. I take time, close my eyes, listen to the sound of water, smell the bitter scent of pine, and feel a fresh cleansing deep inside. But it’s too much to ask for a clean soul at this point. . . . I’ve learned honesty, too, you see.

I learned to hate the flatlands with its loudmouth political pundits— “great Americans” who must be congratulated on their cheaply purchased patriotism. I learned to escape the guy who needs more fiber in his diet, the guy who tells me I’m uninformed and my money will soon be worthless and I need to buy gold from people who will gladly take my soon-to-be-worthless money in exchange for that gold. They care nothing for mountain streams that have no gold but the spawning colors of native cutthroat. They don’t care if trout have water to live as long as they have water to grow pistachios and brew beer, as long as they make enough flapping their jibs and selling gold to afford the next trophy wife. But they don’t understand me any better than I understand them.

I didn’t want to work, work, work until I dropped dead in harness—like my father. I got tired of doing labor that enriched others and left me living hand-to-mouth. I walked away, working just enough to finance my addiction to fly-fishing and high-country trout. And the rich got richer without me. Realizing I didn’t matter was liberating; I was free to turn my back on the well-worn path to mediocrity. Mediocrity seems an impossibility in the high country, where nothing is mediocre.

In the high country, I find no evil. Oh, bear will eat you, moose will stomp you, and unpredictable mountain weather will kill you—if you’ve got your head up your ass. But none of that is evil. Evil, as I understand it, is greed and must be manifested by people. And when I’m away from people, I’m not exposed to their evil, not exposed to those who worship the brass bull in New York City, or tithe at the big-box chain store. In the high country, I can still find places resource raiders haven’t pillaged, but that’s only because it isn’t cost-effective to do so, or they would. And they will.

I was never able to strike a balance between my spiritual needs and the requirements of society, so I chose solitude, trout, and mountain streams. But there’s more to that story. And I won’t bore you with it, or do injustice by presenting a one-sided version of events that led me to that choice. In short, I’d made a mess of human interactions and reached a point where I had to cut bait or bail. So I bailed.

Of course there are times when I wonder what my life would’ve been like had I stayed in play, cured a disease, built a pyramid, or developed a more destructive bomb. But I’m glad I didn’t.

© Robert Robinson 2015 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Robinson and <flyfishingthehighcontry.com> with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.









Robert Robinson

Word count: 1,177

If you’re new to fly-fishing, the first thing you need to wrap your head around is you need lots of stuff. And to be successful, you need to spend as much money as financially possible on this stuff. A lack of stuff leads to feelings of inadequacy on the stream that extends beyond fly-fishing into your personal life. This will be made clear to you by the proprietor of your local fly shop.

They have lots of stuff at the fly shop, and all of it is essential for fishing success and creating the image that must be projected on the stream, the image you have in your head of what a fly-fisherman is supposed to look like—tweed jacket, floppy hat, wicker creel, bamboo rod, waders, and fishing vest.

The first thing you need to purchase—even before a rod—is the fishing vest. You need the vest because it has lots of pockets for stuff; it has pockets in front, pockets in back, hidden pockets, side pockets, and inside pockets all of which, regardless of the financial pain, must be filled with stuff. Do not concern yourself that  in your ignorance you’ll purchase too much stuff—between the pockets are hooks and tabs from which to hang the stuff that won’t fit in the pockets. Remember, just as there’s no such thing as enough money; there’s no such thing as enough stuff. The owner of the fly shop will gently guide you through the selection process.

The most important thing you will learn from the fly-shop proprietor is if you are not catching fish, if you are not catching big fish, if you are not catching lots of big fish, you either don’t have enough stuff, or you don’t have the right stuff. You’ve heard of the right stuff, they even made a movie about it, but they got it wrong or something because there wasn’t a thing in the movie about fly-fishing. The right stuff is, of course, the stuff you don’t have. At some point, the proprietor of your local fly shop will reveal to you the cosmic law of stuff—the more expensive the stuff, the better the stuff.

You’ll need the stuff you are going to use . . . and backup stuff in case you lose stuff. And all this stuff must be changed out with new stuff periodically. Eventually, your weekly trip to the fly shop on payday will become a sacred ritual, the fly shop your holy of holies, and the guy behind the counter full of stuff your personal holy-man. His declaration, “I’ve got just what you need right over here” will become your mantra, and should you unwisely leave the shop without buying the stuff he suggests, it will burden your soul day and night, haunting your dreams until you go back and do the right thing and buy the right stuff.

You will never be able to have all the stuff you want or need, nor will you be able to explain or justify your thirst for stuff. People will tell you that you can’t take your stuff with you when you tip over. But that’s not true. This will become clear to you when you start thinking about who to leave your stuff to—certainly not your son (the one who finds self-expression through sleeping on his mother’s couch and night-shitting his ex-wife’s porch), and not your grandson (the one with the pink Mohawk, eyebrow ring, and tattoo of Chaz Bono on his butt cheek). You will make arrangements with your holy man to have your stuff cremated with you and scattered in a secret, sacred setting—in the alley behind the fly shop.

Significant others will mumble under their breath against you and your stuff, going so far as to claim you’re spending too much on stuff; this, of course, is nonsense—you must never allow anyone or anything to come between you and your stuff.

One of the coolest things about fly-fishing stuff is it’s seasonal—you’ve got your spring stuff, summer stuff, fall stuff, and winter stuff. Fly-fishing stuff is geographic, as well—there’s your lake stuff, reservoir stuff, tail-water stuff, river stuff, creek stuff, and crick stuff. There’s even stuff to make more stuff (yes, you can make your own stuff, but for that you need the stuff to make stuff with). Then there’s task-specific Stuff.

You’ll need dry-fly stuff and nymphing stuff, stuff for fishing from the bank and stuff for fishing from a boat, and you’ll need stuff for fishing from a float-tube and all the stuff for that. There’s no chance of running out of stuff you need. There are legions of Chinese children laboring away night and day manufacturing more stuff at this very moment.

You’ll need stuff to wear while you’re fishing, as well. The stuff you wear must reflect your status as a fly fisher. And have lots of pockets for you to put stuff in. Fishing apparel is seasonal and geographic as well—there’s really no end to it.

Eventually, you’ll need an extra room for your stuff, a place where you can lay it all out on the floor and look at it, touch it, hold it, admire it, get naked and lay in it. You will lock this room . . . because you don’t want people touching your stuff . . . because it’s yours . . . all yours.

Instead of fishing, you’re prime motivation will become the accumulation of stuff, and you will begin operating in the dark underworld of stuff. You will wind up with so much stuff that you’ll sell stuff on e-bay in order to finance the purchase of more stuff. Your wife will say you don’t need any more stuff. . . . And you’ll hate her for it. You’ll go to the fly-shop and demand to buy stuff. You’ll get catalogs in the mail filled with the newest and best stuff, and you’ll look through them longingly and lovingly. And you will order stuff. (There will be khaki-chick-magnet cargo pants in these catalogs, with lots of pockets . . . for stuff.) The stuff you order from this catalog will be obsolete by the time the next catalog comes out, but you must purchase stuff from this catalog in order to stay on the current mailing list.

When your vest induces hernias, when you can build fly rods out of the back of your truck, when you can set up a fly-tying operation on the bank of a creek . . . you’re almost there.

In an effort to stay up-to-date on equipment, fashionable with attire, and current on catalog mailing lists anglers often find themselves adrift in a back-eddy of slightly used, outdated stuff. Seasoned anglers are able to turn this to their advantage by cycling this inventory through unwary fishing buddies—slightly marked up from cost (a finder’s fee if you will)—generating a self-sustaining revenue that can then be used to purchase more stuff.


© Robert Robinson 2015 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Robinson and <flyfishingthehighcontry.com> with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.




I have been honored to have an essay published in the Winter/Spring 2016 issue of Antioch University’s literary journal Lunch Ticket as their featured creative nonfiction piece. I’ve been told to expect more exciting news about this in the near future. Please go check it out.  You can get your ticket punched here.



We are proud to announce Lunch Ticket‘s Pushcart prize nominees, all featured in this issue: