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Touch of Gray

Touch of Gray

The sun rises over the Royal River in Yarmouth, Maine. Photographer James Manning is next to me in the boat, sipping coffee and deciding whether to put his camera into its underwater housing. It is our second day fishing in Maine, and the air is mild with a slight chill. We hope to find a quiet patch of water and some eager fish to return us to a sense of equilibrium once again.

Maine during summer is one of the treasured places in my heart. When I was 15, I caught my first striped bass not far from here. I was an inept angler, but I was there with my dad, and we were celebrating what was our first “normal” year of my adolescence without the prospect of me having to get more tests and more chemotherapy. It was a perfect trip, all the way down to the lobster rolls we ate from the dock after our morning catches.

Eric Wallace was among the first fly-fishing guides to target striped bass in Maine’s skinny waters with a poling skiff.

“Morning guys,” Eric Wallace says as we walk down the ramp. His Maverick skiff is already in the water, and he greets us with firm handshakes. He’s a burly man, wearing just enough easy-to-shed layers to keep him comfortable.

A fellow traveler,…

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