Chena Hot Springs, Alaska • I’m not sure how the magazine ended up in my 10-year-old hands so many years ago, but the images of anglers holding Arctic grayling impacted me for the rest of my life.
The fish, with their huge and colorful dorsal fins, drew me back to the magazine for years. Finally, long after my brain had already safely stored the images, the magazine fell apart in my hands — the same hands that on Sunday held a grayling I had just hooked while fly fishing on Monument Creek. The fish was everything I had imagined it would be and so much more.
After three decades I was the angler in the picture with the huge smile, stunning fish and incredible scenery in the background. But it was the people I was with when it happened that made the moment even more special — good friends and colleagues who shared similar dreams of exploring wild places and catching new species of fish in exotic locations. True peers who were as happy for me as I was for them.
Sharing the dream come true magnified the intensity of the reality and it was a moment I’ll never forget. Mark Freeman, Mark Taylor and Reed Sherman unknowingly have become forever etched in my memory. (The accompanying video of Mark Freeman on Monument Creek includes underwater footage that I shot.)
I’ve been in Alaska now less than a week, but it has already changed me for an eternity. I can’t imagine what the next week will bring.