Written by Jackie Jordan
It’s amazing how easily some things can hide in plain sight. From big fish and small streams to unexplored roads and secret spots, the familiar becomes routine, then it all blends into the background of a work commute or run to the store. If you keep your eyes open—and, in my case, rely on some excellent advice—you’ll be surprised at what you can find just down the road.
Shortly after I became vice president of my local Trout Unlimited chapter, I started actively working with a group of women driving the Women’s Initiative in TU National. Last weekend, a few of the ladies—Kelly Buchta from New Jersey and Kit Kechejian from Connecticut—traveled to my neck of the woods here in Vermont to spend three days camping and fly fishing. The good: camping and fishing. The somewhat scary: Kelly and Kit have been fishing their entire lives (I have what some like to call “much less experience”), yet I volunteered to be their Vermont guide for the weekend.
Was I nervous? Maybe. But at least I know how to find a campsite. At least I did, before what is now known as “The Campsite Disaster of 2013.” Our site was actually just 20 minutes from my house, so naturally I figured I would be able to show them the way with absolutely no problems. I may have been mistaken. The land was privately owned by Kelly’s neighbor’s cousin’s brother’s college roommate (or something like that), which meant the directions turned into a messy game of telephone—and I lost reception quickly. After a few real phone calls and far too much driving around, we found the small dirt path that marked its entrance. I couldn’t believe it. I must have passed this spot a million times over the years, never noticing it was there. Honestly, it’s like it never existed before this moment. So let’s pretend that it didn’t, which would explain why finding it was so difficult.
Since Kelly and Kit provided the campsite, I wanted to take them fishing on three different rivers in the area. I have to admit: I learned way more about “fishing my backyard” in this one weekend than I had all summer. Most of that was because of the following scenarios, all of which are true:
A quick shortcut through mountainous dirt roads turned into a lengthy tour of rolling farmlands and national forests. Beautiful, but not quite the plan. Later, after being GRACIOUSLY tipped off to some key fishing spots I hadn’t actually visited, four pages of handwritten notes led us to this memorable quote:
“It should be right here! I cross-referenced with Google Earth!”
By that time, the sun was quickly setting and I finally found the sign we’d been searching for, the same sign we’d passed a few times before. This became a recurring theme.
“Ohhhh! That NO PARKING sign! It was right here the whole time!”
I was also able to impart some of my hard-earned local wading knowledge on to Kelly and Kit. When I ended up in muck up to my knees, I was showing them what not to do. It wasn’t because I just didn’t see it. No way. Not me.
“Ladies, when you come over this way, stick to the grass on the bank.”
The long weekend treated us well: beautiful summer weather, with full days of fly fishing the local rivers, good eats, and endless laughs around the campfire. We even caught (and released) a few beautiful rainbows, too.
The camaraderie and shared passion for fly-fishing turned this newfound friendship into a full-fledged sisterhood. The road that was once never there is now a landmark that brings a smile to my face each time I pass it.
Jackie Jordan is an Art Director at Orvis and Vice President of the Southwestern Vermont chapter of Trout Unlimited.