March 25, 2020 was a Wednesday. According to some weather almanac online, it was in the low 40s that day – which kind of jives with the selfie I took the day the streak began. Puffy jacket zipped up, over the beanie. That same jacket has been to the river many of the last one thousand days. It definitely is much dirtier now.
The daily trip to the river grew its’ roots during the early days of the pandemic lock down. It was a confusing time – so I decided it would be good for my mental well-being to go fish every day. Those daily visits to the river were a bit of a rock in uncertain times – a safe harbor during the storm.
I vaguely recall the fishing being quite good during the first month of the streak. In fact, I believe I caught fish everyday for the first twenty-eight days. Getting to the river each day was pretty easy as a remote worker back then. I would locate that little 30-60 minute block that was free of meetings, and make it happen.
Most of the “days” fishing were spent at what I affectionately refer to as “Home Water” – a big easy bend in the river where the current collects itself, and pauses to take in the scenery a bit before continuing the plunge towards the bustling burb of Bend. But I also started to venture out in the Spring of lockdown to some of my favorite little ponds. As much as I love home water, it is neat to get out and explore a little bit.
Those early months of the pandemic where a strange time. My personal grooming habits seemed to reflect the oddness of the days. This selfie captured while camping at White River captured the vibe well.
One of my favorite things about fishing everyday, is you get to visit some pretty amazing places. Better yet, you usually get to experience those amazing places, with people you love. That is magic. I like feeling magic daily, and I think that is what kept the streak going many days.
Indeed I was so lucky to have lots of friends who liked going on adventures and “keep fishing” with me everyday. Here was one adventure Teagan and I took to the Metolius River. We “bikepacked” well below Bridge 99 to camp. The fishing was great, the hammock time even better.
With good days on the water, also come tough days. While this photo of the family in the drift boat looks idyllic – and it was for the most part… but then that little white dog there – Kipper is his name… swam across the Deschutes to pick a fight with a dog on the other side.
In our haste to get down stream, my three day old cell phone met an early demise under the heft of an anchor.
Those little bumps in the current are memorable, yet easily navigable. In the moment it seems like a big deal, but over time – the humor of the memory seems to shine a bit brighter. But there have definitely been other times, were things got pretty dark.
Like the Labor Day Fires of 2020. We had to cover all of the windows in our house with plastic tarps to keep the smoke out. I kept fishing. It just felt like the only thing I could do at the time.
When the smoke is thick, and times are tough, it is hard to envision a world without such hardships. But I just kept fishing – and you know what, eventually the smoke cleared, and the breathing was easy again.
Over time, it really became evident to me that it wasn’t really about hooking a fish on these daily trips, it was simply about being there. There are days where the wind was blowing fierce, or the bite was simply off. But the real catch was the place. It was the people. It was the present that can only be unwrapped by being present.
A thousand days is a long time. And while the river kept flowing along during the span of the streak, changes were always happening along its banks. With change often comes loss, and we did lose some close to us along the way. While it is easy to slip into sorrow, the simple act of keeping fishing was a reminder to still be joyful of the present – gather around a campfire with those you love, and of course – go fish.
Because in life, and in fishing streaks, that bad stuff happens. We all have the power of choice in how we respond to the shit when it arrives. Sometimes it just takes a little bit more time to work through – I suggest bringing something to read, and taking in the view.
And indeed things get shitty. The pandemic was filled with that. But going to the river was also a reminder of how poopy people can really be. During that first deep winter of the streak, I began to clean up the river – collecting over 400 golf balls along the way.
Picking up trash is more fun with friends, and I had some helpers along the way. Here is a great memory from my birthday in 2021 on the Crooked River. Kaydee out fished, and out-picked me on the trash that day.
Day 365 arrived while at the coast outside of Tillamook. Quite possibly one of the most exciting moments of the streak came that day too – I hooked into a massive winter steelhead that was nestled into a deep bucket on a small feeder stream. Becky and Kaydee where there for the fight. The fish of course got away, but the memory is mine to keep.
The streak has brought many new people into my life too. You never know who you will meet while out fishing. Sometimes it is a little flying friend to remind you “the hatch” is about to happen
… and other times it is a neighbor, who will eventually move, and you will help orchestrate a purchase of a home for your mother-in-law. The current of life is ever changing and interesting like that… you just have to wade out into it and be open to the flow.
Around this time I was personally going through some changes. During the Spring of 2021, I ended many of my remote work days, on the couch, in tears. My daily trips to the river were sometimes the only thing I could gather the strength to do some days. I didn’t fish much, but rather did lots of reflecting.
Because one of the other great things about fishing everyday is you notice the changes. The trees, the animals, the bed of the river morphing shapes – the person being reflected in the water constantly changing too. And on a road trip up to see my cousin graduate, and to fish of course, I realized it was time to change. So I left my job after seven years.
Seeing Ethan graduate, and emerge into the big world filled with hopes and dreams was just what I needed in that moment. It helped me realize that I too could change my own narrative. So I gave my notice the following Monday after getting back from my trip. And of course, I kept fishing.
When traveling into uncertainty, it is good to have someone along your side. That is another one of my big catches from this whole experience – surround yourself with those you love and care for. Keep fishing for that love with them each day. They will be the ones that encourage you to keep fishing when you are down, and celebrate the joys along the way.
Even though I thought I was “over” the tech world, I was lured into taking another job pretty quickly. I thought things would be different with a fresh start. But it seemed I wasn’t quite through this particular set of challenges yet. I still needed to keep fishing for something else.
When the smoke began to clear from the fires of 2021, I remember being on a walk with Becky. I said I can’t do it anymore. I can’t do the tech shuffle. My new job was already starting to feel a lot like my prior job – and the whole situation reminded me of my attempt to move to California to work at Mammoth Mountain – when I was really just done with the ski industry.
I needed a big change. I needed to keep fishing for something else. And fortunately I had someone who believed in me to make a change.
So while we were preparing for a garage sale late in October of 2021 – almost as a joke, I decided to look into becoming a substitute teacher. After all, when everything is broken and the pieces of you are scattered about, really any path forward seems reasonable.
And again in these times, having good friends around you to help you keep fishing is priceless. Friends that don’t mind launching a boat with snow at the ramp. Friends that have been with you during similar confusing times.
Friends that remind you that it isn’t really about fishing, its about being next to the river, and enjoying the now. Because even if life is confusing, you can still just go sit on the side of the river and find joy.
December is likely the hardest month to fish. The days grow short, the darkness deepens, and the fish – well they just tend to kind of go to sleep and not care much about my lures. But this is the time where it is imperative for me to keep fishing.
Looking back over these almost 3 years of photos, one thing has really come clearly into focus. And that is the fact that I think I had been fishing all along for something big. Bigger then me. Something that required me to cast away many of my long held notions on what it means to be successful in life.
I honestly feel I finally hooked into that thing on January 7, 2022. That was the first day I was a substitute teacher. And it was at High Desert Middle School where Kaydee was then an 8th grader.
The energy I felt on that first day of teaching was very much like feeling that JOLT of my line going tight while swinging for a steelhead. I never imagined myself as a teacher, and most definitely not a middle school teacher. But there I was, waded deep into that stream, and I loved it.
I kept fishing, and I kept teaching. I would try any grade/subject level at least once. The different types of teaching was a lot like fishing a new water. Puzzles to solve, unique challenges, and joys were found each time.
But the one thing that was constant in all of these classrooms was that the students there just liked me for me. I could be my quirky self, have fun, and that was enough. Of course bringing candy and my “treasure box” helped many days – but there was more to it. There was something there – I really thought this was what I had been fishing for all along.
Keeping the streak alive during this time was still a challenge. We were navigating our first winter of club volleyball – which resulted in me having to find new water to fish while away from home. This resulted in me discovering some of the most amazingly beautiful places I have ever seen – and of course fishing in some of the sketchiest little ponds ever in urban settings.
And I happened to be fishing one day in March when my phone started to ring. Which if you know me, I simply will not pickup the phone while fishing – that just isn’t right. But it was the principal of the school I subbed at for my very first day – and many days since then.
They were asking if I wanted to be a long-term sub for the rest of the spring – teaching Social Studies to 7th and 8th graders. It seems I had just hooked into a really big fish.
I got to spend each day those next 3 months going to school with my older daughter. I learned how to write sub notes, and talk to parents at conferences. I taught myself how to TikTok, and how to gamify learning to make it fun. I navigated report cards, and behavior problems. I kept fishing because some days that was all I could do to keep it together.
I had a blast, and was sincerely sad when the school year was over.
I have always struggled when good things come to an end. But at the same time I loved the seasonality of school. It reminded me of working at the ski hill – a distinct beginning and end to each season… filled with routine and ritual along the way.
So when the same principal called me up in June, and offered me a teaching job back at the school in the Fall, I decided to keep fishing, and teaching.
Summer breaks are different when you are a teacher. You unplug, fully. The time off was some of the most meaningful and renewing times I have had during my entire career. As educators, we pour ourselves into the craft – we love and care deeply… but those breaks – they are bliss.
It also was super helpful to have someone who had been through the early days of teaching before to coach me along the way. The whole experience brought us closer together then ever before too. Great things come to those who fish, especially those who fish with partners.
Since school started back up this Fall, I’ve had dozens of students asking me about the streak, and if I have fished yet today. In many ways, I kept the streak going for them. Because fishing is an act of hope, and these kids need more of that in their life. They give me hope, they give me purpose to get up and teach each day – they help me to keep fishing.
And it helps that I get to go to school each day with Teagan now too. There is no greater gift then being able to see your children grow and learn at school. That is the real catch of all of this. Priceless. Magic.
On day 999, the entire family came down to the snowy river to watch me carefully walk across the ice to get to some open water to fish. The faces in the photo from that day capture just how much we all have changed over the course of the past one thousand days. What a trip. What an adventure.
December 19, 2022 was a Monday. It was in the low 30s and dang cold – I didn’t need to look that up because it was yesterday. I put on my waders and laced up my boots like I have done for nine hundred and ninety nine days before. Well I don’t always wear waders, but that sounded like a cool thing to write.
And I went fishing. Because if I have learned anything from this experience is that is what you have to do – keep fishing.
If you made it this far, thank you. Writing over the past 1000 days has been a big part of this journey for me. And to those who have walked alongside me via my words – thank you. Thanks for the comments, thanks for caring, and thanks for being part of the streak.
I plan on documenting things a bit better then this single post. So many good stories and pictures to share. Take care y’all, be kind to yourself, and to others. And Keep Fishing.