Sorry for the extended radio silence. The plan was to laze about (from a blogging perspective) for a couple months while the L&T and I discussed what we wanted to do when we grew up.

When you’re in your 50s, that’s not a trivial question.

Included in that discussion was my work, recreational writing, family responsibilities — the usual tangle of stuff you’ll find wrapped around a mid-50s working professional raising two very energetic young girls.

Topics included the Trout Underground, the simple fly fishing blog that somehow acquired a life of its own.

When I founded the Underground in November of 2005, it wasn’t about anything more than going fishing. And maybe bringing a handful of like-minded fishermen along for the ride.

That ride eventually came to include things like the sometimes-surreal life of Wally the Wonderdog, his death, my conversion to small stream angler, my father’s passing, the adoption of the two cutest daughters on earth, the recognition of the slaw dog as nature’s perfect food, an attempt to define fly fishing in ten words or less, Little M’s first fishing trip, kid’s fishing day at the hatchery, our “Top 10” posts and other weird shit.

Trout Underground

The Trout Underground after its early 2006 switch to blog software.

 

These days, I’m still fishing the little stuff, but between my two “entering-the-taxi-years” daughters and that whole making a living thing, my fishing trips have taken on the flavor of respite rather than exploration. In other words, I’m not Pushing Back the Boundaries of the Known Fly Fishing World, I’m Mostly Getting The Hell Out Of The House.

I’m typically driving to a small stream, fishing it for a couple hours, picking up the kids, knocking together something for dinner, scratching my head over their homework, and then falling down exhausted after they’re in bed.

Doesn’t leave much room to conduct a literary search for seminal fly fishing truths.

The L&T — who knows the Underground has offered something of safety valve in the sanity department over the years — suggested a reboot, turning it into something broader; an outdoor blog encompassing fishing, hiking and outdoor stuff, including kids and what I’ll call “outdoor parenting.”

Not a half bad idea.

Here’s One Reason It’s A Half-Bad Idea

In 2010 I published a short, little-trafficked post about outdoor writer Tom Stienstra’s arrest. More than three years later, he dumbly sued me for defamation.

Stienstra lost his court case, and the L&T and I assumed that was the end of it.

Sadly, we were wrong.

Someone only peripherally involved in the case began harassing us (and a client) via a series of semi-coherent emails. Our attorney extracted a promise to leave us the hell alone. That only sorta worked, but it didn’t matter.

The SF Weekly rightly ridiculed the lawsuit in this article (the Redding Searchlight also had an opinion about the lawsuit).

That apparently triggered a fairly astonishing email from another interested party, the title of which should have been “You will pay for your insolence.” It threatened to have our kids removed, promised an IRS audit, suggested our lives would be ruined, yadda yadda.

It was empty posturing right up to the last paragraph, which unfortunately included a reference to the sender’s handgun skills.

Our attorney wasn’t amused, and neither were my friends in law enforcement.

By then, we’d pretty much exhausted our supply of “turn the other cheek.” We’re trying to resolve this fire drill outside a courtroom (we’ll see), but with this kind of inanity occurring in the background, we’ve elected not to publicize our comings and goings — or those of our kids.

In other words, scratch the Outdoor Underground, Parental Edition.

What’s Next?

I’m taking the winter off. And probably most of the spring. In fact, I may never fire up the Underground again.

In simple terms, my daughters have changed me. (I don’t mean the crippling sleeplessness. I’m simply acknowledging the future.)

With kids growing up, it’s hard to look at issues like income inequality, the militarization of the police, climate change, the erosion of civil rights, the loss of privacy or the destruction of the environment in quite the same way.

In terms of the future, I’ve got skin in the game.

So while I’ve enjoyed the million-plus words I’ve written about fly fishing, I’m thinking the next million might be better invested elsewhere.

You know — ask some hard questions. Challenge some bad thinking. Kick over a few anthills. Journalism, but not the mushy sort where you pretend a bad thing might be a good thing because some asshole is willing to give you a quote to that effect.

Right now, I’m posting the odd bit about writing on my Writer Underground blog. And I’m not ruling out any fishing-related work. But I am looking farther afield.

After the crazy dies down a little, I may fire up another online publication. I own a couple of interesting domains, and life is often an irresistibly circular affair.

Just saying.

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Roll Credits…

I’ve loved this song ever since it closed the Northern Exposure TV series. Might as well use it here:

While That’s Playing…

Thanks to everyone who had a hand in the Underground. It’s meant more to me than is apparent, and while this journey is at an end, I can safely say it wasn’t a boring one.

The part I never got used to was the moment where a car would creep past me in a fishing access parking lot, then stop, back up, and a voice would ring out “Hey, are you that fishing blogger guy?”

I love my readers (most of them anyway). You folks were willing to play the kind of mind games that made the Underground interesting.

On the stream, once I found something that worked, my first impulse was to see what else might work. The Underground gave me license to do pretty much the same thing with my writing. (Consider it a goofy version of the scientific method, only with verbs and beer.)

I hope my readers will keep doing good deeds. I’d suggest we’re at a point where we need it.

See you around, Tom Chandler.

M1 casting her fly rod

The best fly fishing picture I ever took.