Matt Dickerson

This coming June, the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) is hosting their annual conference at Jay Peak up in northern Vermont. It’s a great gathering of outdoor communicators: writers, photographers, filmmakers, editors and publishers, and others affiliated with the industry including reps of various manufacturers. I’ve been to this conference twice in the past four years: when it was held in Montana in 2016 and then again in Arkansas in 2019. As enjoyable as those locations were, and as much as they had to offer in outdoor recreation, I’m even more excited to have the conference...
The decade of the “Teens” has come to an end. I know that most writers penned their end-of-the-year columns, or best-of-the-decade stories in late December as the decade was winding down. I’m a bit behind, as you may have noticed. But it’s not because I haven’t been thinking about it. As I reflect on the past 10 years, three themes emerge. For me it was a decade of growing awareness of the importance of protected and threatened public lands, especially as I experienced, learned more about, and increased my appreciation for numerous national parks and national forests across the country. Hand...
The first fish caught me by surprise. It was a landlocked salmon, and a fairly large one by the standards of that small Maine lake: about 18 inches long, with a visible kype identifying it as a male. Perhaps a frustrated male that hadn’t been able to spawn. Although brook trout and possibly landlocked salmon were once native to the lake, any native stock had long since been extirpated. The lake had seen a series of stockings of non-native fish including bass, brown trout and pickerel dating back decades. This was rectified by a “reclaiming” of the lake when I was a child — a poisoning of all...
It’s the second of Christmas’s 12 days. The next time you pick up a paper with one of my columns, Christmas will be over. In fact, 2019 will be over. It will be a new year. The way most people tally decades (making the most of the same second-to-last digit of a year), my next column will reach your eyes in a new decade. It will be the fourth decade in which I have put thoughts into words and stories in these pages. I admit that the passing of individual years means less to me these days, since I passed the half-century age mark more than half a decade ago. Time is definitely speeding up. I...
My wife Deborah and I had dinner this week with our friends Rich and Jan Warren. We met at the Bobcat Café and Brewery in Bristol, one of our favorite local restaurants and also a convenient meeting place between our home in Middlebury and theirs in Starksboro. It was well worth the drive up, not just for the food but also for the company. Every time we get together with them, Deborah comments, “I love Rich and Jan. They’re such wonderful people.” It was partly by accident, however, that we got to know them many years ago. Although I was loosely acquainted with them through the New Haven...

I was at a meeting of outdoor writers down in Arkansas at the start of the summer when I met the editor of Backcountry Journal. The journal is a publication of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, a national organization devoted to the conservation of public lands and traditional outdoor activities. The editor asked me for two pieces for upcoming issues: one on the Popo Agie Wilderness in the Wind River Range of Wyoming’s Shoshone National Forest (which I wrote about in this space back in 2016) and another on the Green Mountain National Forest of Vermont. Although the Wyoming piece was my first...

A BON SECOUR Green-Backed Heron. Photo courtesy of Matt Dickerson
My wife Deborah and I stood in shorts and t-shirts on a wildlife viewing platform in the midst of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge near Gulf Shores, Ala. The platform roof shielded us from the heat of mid-afternoon sun on an October day with temps in the 80s, but allowed a refreshing salt breeze to blow across us. A kilometer to our south, fine white sand beaches stretched out of sight in both directions along the Gulf of Mexico, and pelicans sailed low over the waves, occasionally dropping into the water for a snack. (Keep that mental picture in mind if the early onset of single-digit...

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
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
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...
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...


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