Almost always, a small group of us set out, brothers and friends and brothers of friends, the precise number and makeup shifting from trip to trip, depending on who was around, who would make good company, who could be trusted to appreciate whatever small discoveries might be made. Informal and unstructured, it was less an expeditionary force than a fishing version of pickup basketball. A few of us made every trip and so became a kind of de facto core, though to call us "leaders" would imply a level of organization hilariously beyond the facts. We were merely the guys who brought the ball. Regardless of the specific particints, however, our aggregate angling qualifications amounted to little more than a fishing rod apiece and unremitting optimism, and over the course of many summers, we burned an unholy amount of time knocking around the countryside, fishing and exploring.