Those that know me best know that in the last year, I have been hard at work producing a show called Michigan Gone Wild. I have had the opportunity to learn so many things that come with the outdoor industry and also the world of videography. But few know the amount of stress that comes with the job that doesn’t even pay at this point. The deadlines and endless work outside of a full time job I already have, is exhausting. Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoy what I do. And until just a couple days ago, it has never been more prevalent.
I went on a Steelhead fishing trip with fellow Michigan Gone Wild co-founder Jordan Kettlewell and his father Al Kettlewell. This was supposed to be a combination of filming and taking photos. To be honest, it was mostly about getting the rust off our elbows while trying not to lose too much tackle. We were pinched for time and had to get everything done within four hours. But I also wanted to fish too. I was determined to get the job done.
Shortly after setting foot in the water, I began capturing our day through the lens of my DSLR. I would ever so often put the camera down to throw my line through a couple holes, with no luck. I took a couple more photos of Jordan and Al. In the midst of taking photos, I stopped to take in the scenery. The calm and cool morning came to life as the sun began to pierce through the trees. It was at that point I witnessed river art in its truest form. Indulged in the moment of the river, Jordan whipped his line across his body, folded his TFO rod over and threw the fly to a hole up stream. Even in real life motion, that scene was so picturesque; it looked as if it had poured out of an Ernest Hemmingway novel. I realized this wasn’t simply a fishing trip. It was a moment in time. We were simply a ripple in a stream that has carved the landscape for hundreds of years. This outside looking in experience was truly captivating in the sense that I was witnessing a bond between father and son. This was their moment; I was there only to capture it.
I continued to capture the day, knowing even the sharpest image could not do it justice. I caught myself reminiscing moments I have had with my father on the river. I remembered trips to the Sturgeon River when I was a boy. My dad taught my brother and me how to fish and shared stories he had from long ago. Much of them from the same rivers he would take us to. If not obvious before, it was then. My Father, much like Al to Jordan, was not just teaching us to fish, but was teaching us about life. You see, much like life, a river is untamed. It moves through the land as it pleases. It can be destructive, yet can also create and sustain life. We as fisherman, like humans to life, are simply visitors. We take and give back during our time, but we do not stay forever. This is beautiful in the sense that even with such minute time in this world or on a river, we can make a difference. Our impact, both positive and negative is evident long after we are gone. It is up to us to decide whether we are to use our time for good or bad.
These are the teachings of our fathers and grandfathers. Jordan and I were taught by our fathers, just as they were taught by theirs. This is the cycle of life. We come and go, we learn and we teach. We live and love until our presence is no longer needed. It’s not our body that lasts forever; it’s our impact on others and our knowledge and wisdom. Just like Jordan has begun doing with his four boys, I too will pass what I have learned on to my children. Hopefully while on a river, with a fly rod in hand.
As we wrapped up for the day, I couldn’t help but look at the river just one last time. I can certainly say there were pictures that I did not get. But maybe those images are best kept for my own memory. Just as Jordan had his moments with the river, I also had mine. I firmly believe a day on a river can relieve stress, as it did for me that day. It reminded me of my goals and purpose. I left motivated, cleansed and anxious to return. Out of the many, that was one of my best days on a river. God willing, I plan to have a lot more. Stay Wild!