Wagons East

In the 1994 film Wagons East, a group of misfit settlers decide they cannot live in their current situation in the west, so they hire a grizzled alcoholic wagon master (John Candy) to take them on a journey back to their hometowns. Candy died on set.

As the clock winds down on my time in Oregon, I’m starting to feel (and unfortunately look) like John Candy. I am that reluctant, grizzled alcoholic wagon master. And my caravan rolls back to Ohio on Wednesday. Hopefully I don’t die on set.

I love this place.

McKenzie River Fly Fishing

Last week, Chris and Ethan and I floated the upper section of the McKenzie River. We caught dozens of big, wild, native trout. We used dry flies the size of ping-pong balls trailing little nymphs. I landed my first McKenzie bull trout, a giant native predatory char that’s hyper-sensitive to water quality. We bounced over the upper section of one of the most beautiful rivers I’ve ever seen, and had it all to ourselves.

This ecosystem is the only place I’ve ever cared enough about to fight for. And I hope the fight to protect this watershed carries on, through the people at Trout Unlimited, the Native Fish Society, and McKenzie River Trust. I know it will carry on through Chris at the shop. And I’ll cheer-lead from the sidelines.

McKenzie River Fly Fishing

McKenzie River Fly Fishing

McKenzie River Fly Fishing

McKenzie River Fly Fishing

Arguably, I’ve been on the sidelines for the last couple years anyway. The pressure cooker of a young family, a wife pursuing a PhD, and a new job really put the brakes on my activism, and fishing.

And when I try to rationalize this move, I tell myself “Hell, with my parents helping out with Paul, and the money I’ll save living in a post-Industrial wasteland, I’ll be fishing in Oregon about as much as I do now anyway!” And while we all know that’s probably not going to happen, I can promise to try.

What I’m trying to say is that I’ll miss all of you, and this place, dearly. I wasn’t born here, but chose this place as my home.

I’m in hock to Chris for a bunch of gear — so I’ll still be writing and taking pictures about fly fishing for this blog for a long time. So don’t get all weepy. And while I’m feeling sorry for myself about the move, I will be reunited with Captain Nate. The Stansberry brothers — together again on their home turf for the first time in over ten years. Talk about a pressure cooker…. stay tuned!

And sincerely, thank you to everyone who reads this.


This entry was posted in McKenzie River. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Wagons East

  1. Gabe Parr says:

    Sorry you gotta leave M – hopefully it won’t be forever and you can find your way back.

  2. Rick Allen says:

    Bon Voyage Stansberry!!
    Good luck in your new stage in life.
    May you and your family be happy and healthy.

  3. Tapper says:

    the world needs more fishermen like you, MS.

    Oregon’s loss is Ohio’s and the Great Lakes’ gain.

    git some!

  4. Arlen says:

    Really sorry to see you go, Matt. You’ve made a difference here. We’re going to hold you to that promise to come back for visits, at least.

  5. Matt Neznanski says:

    All the best to you, Katie and Paul! You’re welcome back anytime.

  6. Matt Eifler says:

    Matt, best of luck in your travels and move. I have certainly enjoyed reading your insights since I moved to Oregon from Ohio. Looking forward to reading your future posts and seeing some crappie, bluegill, and bass fly pattern videos popping up on the blog. But if we see you post a chicken liver fly pattern for catfish, we’ll send a crew to extract you.

  7. David Jensen says:

    As someone who has lived on the McKenzie for 35 years, I will always appreciate what you personally did to advance the cause of native trout. I am pleased to see you will continue to blog. If you start to fade in my memory, I’ll replay the DVR of you on the TV program Searching For Sasqautch. Godspeed, and travel safe.

  8. Capt. Nate says:

    Matt…. See you soon! Went 2 for 5 last saturday fishing musky out of Detroit… went on a 2oo mile self guided boat tour of Lake Erie too and saw a group of 30 gar sunning in open water on the Canadian side of the lake…They wanted nothing to do with me… tomorrow we are fishing mixed bass blitz(s) and open water steelhead. So… get here because you’ll freak out! I still miss Eugene and the coast… not the mention the people and fish, but I’ll keep you busy… see you soon.

  9. Tim says:

    Matt, I am glad I got to hang w/ you and share some laughs and adventures. You are always welcome at the Narrows.

  10. moon says:

    Hey Matt, it was good to know you… stay safe and enjoy life as it comes. I hope you can get back from time to time. I miss ol paul paul too…. – if you ever wanna bake and fish, give me a call when you are in town.

    btw – I have an ex-wife in Ohio, if you ever run into her – tell her i’m dead.

  11. mike doughty says:

    gorgeous fish! that sucks you have to move back east. the west coast is where it’s at.

  12. TJ says:

    Matt. Good luck with the move. What’s up to your bro. Maybe another summer steelhead trip on the Deschutes own the road.

  13. Travis Woodward says:

    Hey Matt, I’ve never shook your hand face to face, but I’ve probably read all of your posts on this blog, and your Bro and I would BS a lot in the shop. I even let him drag my best friend, my other half, and I out in the salt…I got sick, as usual, but would do it all again! Thanks for all you’ve done for the PNW…you and your bro will always be remembered and missed! Best wishes…NOW GO RIP SOME LIPS!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *