Fly Fishing Alongside History May 29, 2018 – Posted in: Vedavoo – Tags: ,

In the low water of the late summer, even the mighty Potomac seemed tranquil. Every landing waterfall and breaching fish punctuated the stillness of the warm air. Only a quick hook-set and a fighting smallmouth produced a prolonged commotion. Only a short float from the intensity of the traffic and tone of Washington, DC, the peacefulness upstream was profound.

Just over 150 years ago, there were nearly 300 casualties along this stretch of the Potomac River.

The Battle of Ball’s Bluff was a hurried, bloody skirmish that was made deadlier because of the river and the steep terrain. The impact of the sacrifices like these, made by America’s sons from both north and south, was felt by the whole nation. The resulting sentiment lead to the establishment of the first “Memorial Days” in the United States.

As years went by and additional conflicts lead to more fallen armed servicemen and women, the holiday was observed in some way, shape, or form until federal recognition in the 1970’s. As its name suggests, it suggests a time of remembrance. Abstaining from work on the day allows many to spend time enjoying commemorative festivities, family, or even the freedom of the outdoors.


Nearly 100 years before the Civil War, the colonies that would become the USA were engaging the British in the Revolutionary War outside of Boston. Walden Pond, where one can still catch trout and panfish today, sits in between the towns of Lexington and Concord.  There are other small lakes and streams worth fishing in the area where one could have feasibly perceived “the shot heard round the world.” A few miles to the east sits the monument at Bunker Hill. 140 Americans died defending this high ground. Just down the slope lies the mouth of the Charles River and Boston Harbor, a unique urban setting for chasing stripers.

Make no mistake, there is no comparison between soldiers’ sacrifices and fly fishing.

But whereas the most losses of American lives during wartime has occurred overseas in distant lands, there are a handful of places where we live alongside that history. And for many of us, living includes fishing.

Memorial Day provides a very pointed opportunity to pause and remember. For those of us who live, walk, and even fish in the places where some of the most significant events in our nation’s history have transpired, we have those opportunities on a much more frequent basis. Taking advantage of them is worthwhile. Between casts, while wading, or during the drive home: a deep appreciation for those who gave all can enrich our gratitude and our awareness for the freedoms we enjoy.

Happy Memorial Day from Vedavoo.

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