July 16th, 2007

By Dave Pearson, PA

How much land does a man need? Tolstoy writes of a peasant who was offered by the Devil himself all the land he could circumnavigate in a day. He had from sunup to sundown to complete the task, the only caveat being that he had to return to his starting point before the end of the day or forfeit his life.

The Stream

Pahom, the peasant in question, starts at a brisk pace as the sun peeks over the horizon and fully intends to trace a few acres with his steps to meet the needs of his family. But as soon as he realizes this will bring him back to his starting point well before noon, he revises the amount of land he needs upward and widens his arc. To make a short story even shorter, after a remarkable amount of rationalization, Pahom finds himself miles from his starting point as the sun begins to set. He rushes back toward his starting point, only to drop dead short of his goal as the suns last rays leave the horizon.


The story is Tolstoy at his best and I recommend it as a good read. James Joyce considered it a favorite.

The Stream

How much land does a man need? As much as he can circumnavigate in a day. How much gear does a flyfisherman need? As much as he is willing to carry on his back.


Ay, there's the rub. I like gear. I like rods, reels, line, flies, and the jink-junk that goes with them. And boy! Is there a lot of jink-junk! Whole catalogues full of it. Each and every item a "must have;" every geegaw an object of desire; every "thing" a want turned into a necessity. All these wants are needs if we actually use them which really means we are willing to carry them around on the off chance we find a use for them. To justify having all the stuff, we must be willing to schlep it around. To that end there are vests, bags, bandoliers, chest packs, lumbar packs and fanny packs. Wicker creels are often used for lunch and gear instead of the catch of the day. Anything and everything to lighten the load. To make it seem as if we weren't carrying anything at all!

Daves Chest Fly Box

Well, I have stuff; not as much as I want, but more than I need. I carry my flies around in a Richardson chest fly box. I carry more flies than I will ever use in a dozen seasons strapped to my chest. The rest of the stuff goes in a lumbar pack. I actually strap the pack around my waist with the pack itself off to my right side. I then loop a strap over my shoulder which distributes the weight between my waist and shoulder. I carry all my necessities in the pack including a pack stove and coffee press.

Coffee is a necessity. It is so because I am willing to carry it on my back, or in this case at my side. But I've found premade coffee in a thermos insufficient in quantity and cumbersome to carry. So, I make it fresh. Twice a day, midday and midafternoon. Here is how it's done:

The Coffee Gear

    1. Fresh creek water goes in cup to boil. And boil it does...for at least five minutes. I want all the dangerous bacteria and other microbes dead.

    2. Remove the pot from the heat and let the water cool to 195 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This is important and the biggest secret to making a great cup of coffee. If the water is hotter than 200 degrees, the coffee burns; any cooler than 195 and the coffee does not brew. How do you know when the water has reached this magic temperature range? To be dead sure measure the temperature with a candy thermometer. (Pack it and use it...yes, I'm serious) Or, turn off the stove and wait four full minutes before you add the coffee. This will put you in the ballpark but can fail if it is windy and cold out.

    3. Add the coffee; one tablespoon of coarsely ground coffee per eight ounce cup.

    4. Let the coffee brew for at least four minutes.

    5. Now press the coffee and pour into a mug. If you have no coffee press, pour the coffee through a fine tea strainer into a mug.

    Coffees Ready

    6. That's it! Enjoy your fresh coffee.

Brewing a fresh cup of coffee is a great way to rest a pool. By the time you are finished with your cup, the fish are rising. ~ Dave - (black gnat)

About Dave:

Dave Pearson lives in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania with his loving wife, Gillian, and two dogs, Casey and Booboo. His passion is small mountain streams. He teaches guitar for a living. You may contact Dave at: pdewey2@aol.com

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