Of course, the purpose of this weekend is to honor those who serve and served in the armed forces, and specifically remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. In my family, it also marks the unofficial start of summer, and a time to appreciate the outdoors and the people you share that with.

If you check out the June issue of Field & Stream, you’ll notice a cool “First Shot” image of guide Mike Lunde riding this brown trout statue in Rio Grande (Tierra del Fuego), Argentina. That shot was taken by none other than my buddy and Fly Talk partner, Tim Romano. Cracking open the magazine and seeing that shot made me really proud, because the “First Shot” in Field & Stream is about as high as anyone can go as an outdoor photographer, and Tim has been there many times. It also made me remember the “backstory” to that trip to the famous Kau Tapen Lodge.

There’s always a backstory. Someday, I’d like to do a book with Tim that focuses on all the wild things that went into making the stories we’ve done together and apart. Believe me, sometimes the stuff that never gets printed is the most interesting, especially when you’re fishing the far corners of the world.

Our backstory started in 2003, when Tim was working for a fly-fishing magazine I was contributing to, and we were assigned to go to Chile together for 10 days. Neither of us really knew each other. I’m sure I drove him nuts tapping out notes on my laptop at first light, and plucking a travel guitar I brought along. He drove me nuts editing photos on his laptop late at night (he’s a night person and I am a morning person), and sticking that dang camera lens in my face all the time. On that trip, we fished like crazy, bounced from spot to spot, ended up sleeping on the floor of a lodge that was being built (because we wanted to fish there before anyone else), and running out of gas on a river many thousands of miles away from home. But we made it home and produced a killer story. It just worked.

Since then, it has only gotten more interesting. We started Angling Trade magazine together (with Charlie Meyers, who was a mentor to both of us). We started working on this Fly Talk Blog nine years ago. We’ve played tricks on each other (he likes to hide in the grass and act like rattlesnakes, because he knows I hate snakes), and watched each other suffer (I witnessed Tim puke so much on a shark-fishing story with Conway Bowman off San Diego, that Con-Man and I literally decided we didn’t need the chum bag anymore).

We’ve been to the jungle in Guyana together, to Argentina, the Louisiana Bayou many times, my home waters of Lake Michigan, throughout Colorado (where we both live) and up and down the Rockies, and many other places. Of course, he’s gone to places that I yearn to experience (Kamchatka, and New Zealand foremost), and I try to keep a step ahead of him by rolling on adventures of my own (Bolivia, Iceland, and Ireland). But when all is said and done, I feel like my stories are always better when they wrap around his images, and I like to think I can lift his shots up sometimes with the words I write. We are a good team. A band. It just kind of happened that way. I think everything happens for a reason.

Very early on, I explained to Tim that I thought the “real hook” of fly fishing has very little to do with the fish, and everything to do with the people you meet, and the places you see along the way. So as you go fishing this holiday weekend or during the season ahead, I suggest you make a special point to pay a nod to your fishing buddy, be that a parent or a child, a friend or a neighbor, your spouse or whomever. No matter where the road takes you, it’s always better when you share it with someone you really admire and enjoy being on the water with. That’s truly what it’s all about.

So thank you, Timmy, and buen viaje, amigo!