Jeff Lund attempts to hook a golden trout in Wyoming during a recent trip. “Yes, [I] traveled to fish during the pandemic,” Lund said. (Jeff Lund | For the Juneau Empire)

Jeff Lund attempts to hook a golden trout in Wyoming during a recent trip. “Yes, [I] traveled to fish during the pandemic,” Lund said. (Jeff Lund | For the Juneau Empire)

Yes, I traveled to fish during the pandemic

Don’t mistake the tone of this, I am not making light of traveling during a pandemic.

By Jeff Lund

For the Juneau Empire

Choosing teams? Why?

Everyone has a reason, but almost no one else thinks it’s good enough. At least that’s the perception that almost kept me from writing this.

I did it. I traveled.

I’m writing this from Laramie, Wyoming, five feet from my girlfriend who is busy completing her Ph.D in ecology. During weekends, we hike, camp and fly fish for trout in the mountains.

Don’t mistake the tone of this, I am not making light of traveling during a pandemic. I weighed, prepared then printed my boarding pass. Still, someone who has never met me will wish me the virus, or blame the spikes on guys like me because in their eyes, I am not taking it seriously. Cruel, but I get the point. Who would knowingly put themselves at risk, or who is so self-absorbed that they feel entitled to go fish. Well, I guess that’s me. I’m the enemy. I’m one of those guys. I’m on that team. There’s no difference between me and a guy with a slight cough going to a nightclub.

We’ve reduced life to an equation, if you do this, then you are that, and are therefore the enemy. The problem is no one lives in that simplistic, nuance-free reality where it’s 100% go or 100% no. Life is messy. It’s complicated. It requires a level of responsibility and trust. Without either, it’s chaos.

In a time in which we need unity, it seems that any and every conversation is doing the opposite. I long for the good old days when people argued about whether or not to shoot forkies, if trekking poles are “sissy sticks” or whatever else pops up on Facebook hunting or fishing member groups. I’d love to shake my head at some of the inconsequential bickering between hunters and anglers. That’s what we do when we’re not doing what we post. Eventually we laugh it off or otherwise move on. But things are different now. Even with the opportunity to recalibrate on a mountain hike or trolling for salmon, it’s difficult for even us Alaskans to escape the politics of the pandemic and cultural failures.

I’m not here to debate economics, travel or advocate for masks because I am a simple-minded outdoor columnist. For real information by a professional, follow Dr. Anne Zink on Twitter. I know my role and lecturing outside of my field is not it.

What I do know is this, you know that person who refuses to back down from an argument about why Sitka is better than Kuiu or fly fishing is too pretentious, or using a rifle is too easy and real hunters hunt with a bow? You know, stuff that doesn’t really matter, but when backed into a corner they defend their stance ferociously? There are people taking stands because they’d rather do that than join the ranks of the holier-than-thou crowd. If self-righteous, condescending criticism never changed your mind, what makes you think it will change someone else’s? Unless it’s not about changing someone’s mind. Maybe it’s just about feeling justified in being mean.

I thought about this a few days ago doing what I usually do when I do my best thinking — fishing. If I want a new, better normal, am I helping or am I hurting the cause by how I act, and am I more concerned in how I mitigate risk or what other people think of me?

We’re going to have to get through this together.

Teams are good, except when they’re not.

• Jeff Lund is a writer and teacher based in Ketchikan. “I Went To The Woods,” a reference to Henry David Thoreau, appears in Outdoors twice a month.

More in News

tease
Planet Alaska: Spruce tip bathing

The perfect spruce tip is tightly bound needles without the brown papery casing.

Eirn Heist plays guitar during the recording of her forthcoming single and EP, which share a title, "Another Rainy Day." (Courtesy Photo / Annie Bartholomew)
Forecast calls for ‘Another Rainy Day’

Singer-songwriter Erin Heist records 1st EP, releases single.

Fresh rainwater sits on top of the ice at Auke Lake in Jeanueary 2019. Although June is typically considered a relatively dry month in the capital city, the National Weather Service is predicting heavy rain starting Wednesday evening and through the weekend. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 23, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A sign invites visitors into the Alaska State Capitol building on Monday, June 21, 2021. Lawmakers will begin their second special session of the year Wednesday after Gov. Mike Dunleavy sent the state’s budget bill back to lawmakers saying it lacked critical components. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Courts asked to clarify budget dispute

Shutdown remains possible.

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
COVID at a glance for Monday, June 21

The most recent state and local figures.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Tuesday, June 22, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Thunder Mountain High School on April 18, 2021. When school resumes in August, Juneau teacher Kelly Stewart will be the interim assistant principal, district officials announced on Friday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Local teacher named assistant principal at TMHS

Kelly Stewart accepts interim role

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Friday, June 18, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read