Thank you, fly-fishing

January 19, 2012

Several years ago, when I was just starting out as a freelance journalist, I sold a feature story to a local magazine for $1,000. At the time, this was an astonishing sum of money for me, and it paid my rent for two months. The article was titled “Against the Stream: A Story of Obsession, Rebellion, and Fly-Fishing.”

The story was about a local fly-fishing writer named John Gierach, who is an international celebrity in the angler subculture but is almost completely unknown to the residents of Colorado. It started out as a simple profile. I convinced Mr. Gierach to take me fly-fishing, and I interviewed him in those brief moments when I wasn’t making a complete fool of myself on the lake.

I planned to write something short and fun, but Mr. Gierach turned out to be such a fascinating character that it took me an entire year to complete the story. In 2009, it was published in Denver Magazine, after a particularly sadistic editor (you know who you are) decided to hack it to pieces.

The article included some extremely important information about local environmentalism and the impending water crisis in Colorado, and I hoped it would cause a public stir. It did not. As near as I can tell, the article was published, a few people mentioned that they enjoyed it, and then it was forgotten.

I forgot about it, as well, until I put it on my website about a week ago. Originally, I considered not posting it at all because it is very long and blog readers have notoriously short attention spans. However, in the end, I decided it couldn’t hurt. I’d spent hundreds of hours working on the damn thing, might as well have it on my website.

Yesterday, I received the highest number of views on my site since I created it in 2010. I was shocked. When I looked at my stats, I discovered that more than 600 people had suddenly decided to read this very long article about a grouchy fly-fishing environmentalist living in the Rocky Mountains. Most of these readers were referred to my article by a website called Moldy Chum, which appears to be composed of a group of fly-fishing geeks and writers. I have no idea if anyone who reads my blog is also a fly-fisherman, but if so, please check out Moldy Chum. They seem like good guys, and they’ve revived a piece of writing that I thought was long dead. Thanks, fellas.

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