“Dry fly fishing is hunting,” Jeff said.

I said Okay, but it was one of those Okays that wasn’t fooling anybody. I had no idea what he was talking about. 

I have been meeting a lot of new folks by simply asking questions. “Do you know anyone that knows how to do so-and so?” Often they do. I found Jeff because Jeff’s brother is friends with my buddy Eric. I’ve never lived like this, but on the road, if meeting strangers isn’t in the top 1 or 2 things to get done everyday, maybe the road isn’t IT. Fly fishing seemed like one of those skills that could come in pretty handy in the wilderness, and I quickly realized this was truth, but there was nothing quick about it.

Jeff knew every fish in the river … he had names for them and he pointed out every lurking shadow. “Do you see him? I caught him last week; he’s 23 inches.” Jeff knew every spot and he knew everybody. He carried a hand-carved net pressed from his own wood that he said would be his son’s someday. At 24, I got the feeling Jeff’s a bit of a local legend in these parts, which is maybe why the trout we’re staying down. 

“What are you doing after you’re done with school?” I asked. “I’m going to travel for 8 months with my girlfriend.” “How about after that?” “I’m going to get a Dolphin and drive it down to South America." It felt like we were just getting warmed up in life.

3 hours passed. Jeff and I basically figured out the state of the world, but that didn’t help us get any bites, so we packed up. Then came a ripple downstream. "Did you see that rise over there?” Jeff asked, immediately forgetting that we had decided to leave. He arched out a beautiful cast, something like 60 feet, and damn near hit the trout’s ripple. Three seconds later Jeff hooked it and three minutes later I had a rainbow trout in my hands for the first time in my life. “Hunting,” I muttered. 

Polaroid of Jeff in his waders in the Truckee River while dry flyfishing
Jeff casts his fly rod in the Truckee river and waits for a bite
Me looking at Jeff's rainbow trout catch fondly, Truckee River California