Matt Dickerson


MATTHEW DICKERSON, LEFT, his fishing guide Steve, and Deborah Dickerson pose at a pier in southern Alabama recently showing off their catch from Mobile Bay. Photo courtesy of Matt Dickerson
10/31/2019
Standing on a rocky shore beneath the shadow of a massive dam, I drifted small nymphs in slow-moving water that looked chest deep. A couple fish rose sporadically some distance upriver, mostly against the wooded bank on the far shore. One trout with a scarred back cruised past and disappeared downstream. Nothing showed interest in my fly. After an hour, Brandon Jackson, my guide from Riverside Fly Shop, moved us downriver, around the next bend and out of sight of the dam. The river was much shallower here, flowing swiftly over riffles and through thigh-deep pools. To me, it looked much...

A BEAUTIFUL FALL day on a Vermont lake was marred by toxic blue-green algae that sat in a thick smear on top of the water. Photo courtesy of Matt Dickerson
10/17/2019
The end of our hundred-yard walk carrying our canoe from the parking lot to the lake ended in something between disgust and dismay when we looked down into the water. The surface of the lake looked nothing like water. It appeared more like green paint — like a bucket of latex ready to be spread on the side of a house. We couldn’t have seen a rock half an inch below the surface, it was so thick and opaque. Neither my wife nor I had any interest in setting our canoe down on top of it, risking getting whatever it was on our sandals or skin or even on our beautiful golden canoe. But neither did...
10/02/2019
I have a complex relationship with fishing gear. It’s like one of the old status question about whether two people are dating, and the answer is, “It’s complicated.”  I’m a big fan of fishing gear. That’s not complex. I’m a big fan of fishing, and at least some fishing gear is necessary for fishing. (Though, as it turns out, much of it isn’t.) I’ve had a set of fly rods for several years that I’m quite happy with. They don’t wear out, and as long as I can avoid slamming them in car doors, sitting on them in canoes, or catching the tips on tree trunks when walking along river banks, they...

A MEMBER OF the New Haven River Anglers Association successfully casts a cotton ball fly into a hula-hoop during a competition at the group’s annual picnic recently. Our columnist was the first loser. Photo courtesy of Matt Dickerson
09/19/2019
It began as just some light-hearted Sunday afternoon relaxation and enjoyment. It ended in the painful crush of defeat. OK, actually the defeat wasn’t that painful or crushing. In fact, it was about as relaxing and light-hearted as the rest of the afternoon. And I’m tempted to say it wasn’t even a defeat. I came in second place. When I pointed that out at the dinner table, my son Mark replied that coming in second is just another way of losing; “The second place finish is just the first loser,” he said. I think he only holds that view because he is a baseball player. The activity was the...

A SMALL CAMPFIRE burns on the gravel shore of Lake Kontrashibuna, where our columnist and his party enjoyed great fishing for lake trout and arctic char, but also spectacular views. Photo by Matthew Dickerson
09/05/2019
It was late morning. The fog drifting along the lake surface had mostly burned away, though a few patches still clung to the steep slopes. Replacing the fog was an eerie yellowish haze. The haze filled the bowl formed by the lines of rugged wilderness mountains that enclosed us on three sides. It took me some time — and a few deep breaths through my nostrils, picking up its particular smell — to realize that it was smoke from one (or more) of the numerous wildfires burning across parts of Alaska, the closest of which was only about 40 miles away. I’d been awake since before dawn, and had...

Two bears at Katmai. Photo by Mark Dickerson
08/22/2019
My son Mark and his wife, Ellie, both Middlebury residents and Middlebury College alumni, walked alongside me up the gravelly river shoreline in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed. Our guide and pilot, Glen Alsworth Jr. of the Farm Lodge, walked with us or a few steps ahead. Glen was the one familiar with the small river we were following. More importantly, he was the one most familiar with brown bears. Though I had been to the same spot a year earlier with my wife, Deborah, it was Mark’s first trip to the park and Ellie’s first trip to Alaska. I had enticed...
08/08/2019
There have been occasional years when, for one reason or another, I didn’t make it down to the fish hatchery off Route 53 in Salisbury. This was not one of those years. The hatchery, more accurately known as a “fish culture station,” has become one of my favorite local attractions. Opened in 1931 (before my parents were born), it is listed in the National Register of Historic Sites. It’s also a vital part of the state’s hatchery program. Although you might not realize it from a casual look around, the biologists and technicians who run it make innovative and continually adapting use of...
07/25/2019
This is an article about paddling and fishing. Or, to be more alliterative, casting and canoeing. I’ve done much less of both these activities in 2019 than in 2018. So it might also be an article about fires and floods. Last month (as I mentioned in one of my June columns) I attended the annual conference of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. The conference met in Little Rock, Ark., on the banks of the Arkansas River — a river that was running exceptionally high, and contributing to the floods on the Mississippi River. Although the Arkansas roared through its confined channels in the...
07/11/2019
My wife, Deborah, likes to angle for beavers. No, not in the same way that I angle for trout. She doesn’t try to catch them. She definitely would not want to hook them, or net them, or get them to try to eat something that looks like food but isn’t. But when we go out on the water paddling together, seeing a beaver or two is for her a sort of extra reward. This is also true for her of turtles, or osprey, or blue heron, or really any wildlife. But especially beavers. I recently did a radio interview on my new book with a radio program out of New Hampshire. I had a very enjoyable conversation...

MATTHEW DICKERSON BATTLES a large rainbow trout in a river in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve. Photo by Deborah Dickerson
07/01/2019
ADDISON COUNTY — Do you count yourself an avid Addy Indy reader? Then no doubt you recognize Matthew Dickerson’s name — after all, he’s been writing an outdoor column for the paper for 21 years. You might even know this angler recently published “The Voices of Rivers,” a book about his experiences on rivers in Arcadia and Glacier national parks and watercourses scattered around Alaska. But odds are, a few things might still surprise you about Dickerson. First of all, he’s a professor of computer science at Middlebury College and a scholar of the fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien and the Inklings. Yup...

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