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For me, the ideal day of fly fishing begins with a good drive. Which, I guess, is convenient, considering that, aside from a stint in Montana when home was a double-wide trailer unremarkable in every respect save for the pristine stretch of the Missouri River that cut through my backyard, I’ve always lived an hour’s drive from the nearest trout water. For as long as I’ve been fly fishing, almost every outing has begun with a journey.

Even now, nearly 24 years since I first cruise-controlled along a trout route, it’s tough for me to pin down why, specifically, I enjoy this time behind the wheel so much. Sure, I get a kick out of the anticipation that comes with gearing up and loading everything into the car. I’ve also always been a glutton for gas-station grub. And in no other scenario do I take more pleasure in blasting music (usually Springsteen in high school and my twenties; mostly the Talking Heads these days) at high volume than during these drives to the river.

a truck gun story in Field & Stream
The Drive Issue features four essays about writers’ favorite truck guns. Jarren Vink

If I were forced to identify what I love most about these drives—why they’re as inseparable from my ideal day of fishing as my ritual of dunking my casting hand into the cool current the moment I wade into the water—it’s the sense of escape they add to a fishing trip. To be fair, I didn’t mind living next to that world-class trout fishery in Montana, but walking to the river, for me, just isn’t the same as driving to it. When I leave to fly fish, I want to feel like I’m really getting away. When I arrive at the river, I want to feel like I’m someplace else. Come to think of it, that’s the reason I took up fly fishing in the first place.

stories about road kill in Field & Stream
Because you can’t tackle a theme like “Drive” without publishing a roadkill story. Moron Eel

These drives, and the hours I spend on the river, often lend themselves to a good head space for thinking of new ideas for the stories we tell at F&S. In fact, it was during one drive this summer that I got the germ of an idea for this issue—to use “drive” as a theme for pieces about road trips, obviously, but also about persistence, companionship, and, yes, even roadkill. I realize “drive” seems like a strange theme—at least on the surface. But once you get going, I think you’ll recognize the great storytelling that’s always been the driving force behind Field & Stream

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