My thesis portfolio from the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Only the trees, trout, birds, and deer are around to hear your footsteps—the trees they speak as the bitter wind cuts through their branches, obliging them to creak. Your eyes trace these bare branches and the soft hum of the river helps your busy mind to sleep. And there you are, standing face to face with the water’s edge, wielding your trusty fly rod.
The trout rose to my Rusty Dun feverishly. The spent mayfly bodies fell to the river in such thick blankets that the feeding trout found themselves hypnotized into a frenzy that resembled boiling water upon a woodstove. The air felt cool into the passing of last light, and a handful of friends harmonized bluegrass tunes down a backwoods river trail. When reflecting upon our history, I become sure that a life without fly fishing would feel like no life at all. Friends and family have left us, many at the hands of their own vices. Yet, we still find each other casting along the rivers, even when we least expect each other’s company. Our shared addiction seems to keep us alive.
The cutting point of a finely crafted hook pierces the flesh, bone, and teeth of the dragon we now chase. Our journeys to capture these elusive and mystical water-wolves have changed the way I process and collect my imagery. At times, the Esox can be excruciatingly difficult to locate. And the struggle has forced my lens into alternative directions. Physically, our feet are stuck in a viscous cycle of work, sleep, eat, pay bills, and repeat. But mentally, we are passing through a historically rich Appalachian river town, outboard jet screaming at our heels. And spiritually, our experience swims through the freshwaters of a toothy, top predator. This is the photographic story of a cult of fishing families, their prefered species, their travels, and the spaces that they occupy. This is our collective experience.