We had the chance to ask Jon Gaffney aka @thevanman some questions about fishing, life, and adventure, and here is what he had to say...
FIELD NOTES FROM @THEVANMAN
Name: Jon Gaffney
Location: Points Unknown
Day Job: Freelance Photographer/Journalist
Weekend Job: Cliff, rock, and bridge jumper. Waterskier and general water rat.
Tenkara Rod Co. ambassador, Jon Gaffney, AKA @thevanman, is currently on a yearlong road trip with his girlfriend Gale Straub, @she_explores, in their Sprinter. We wanted to catch up with Jon and hear more about his views on exploring the USA mile by mile, river by river. Here are our field notes.
So we all adventure for different reasons, what’s a personal one that drives you to explore?
Curiosity. I'm always excited about what else is out there, what's around the next bend, who I might meet, or even just finding a new cove on a lake I thought I knew front and back.
When was your first fishing experience?
My first memory of fishing was heading off the coast of New Hampshire in my grandfather's boat to troll for blue fish. I was pretty young though and was a questionable fisherman at best. I recall not being able to see over the gunwales very well...
Do you have a most memorable fishing experience?
A 40" Striper (Striped Bass) caught off the coast of Maine with my Dad and younger brother. Over 40" is pretty good for a Striper and a bit of a benchmark, but what was truly memorable was the fight it put up not the size. We were out fishing with this old Mainer who held the record for the largest Striper ever caught in Maine back in the 1960's, nothing ever fazed him. The Striper struck the line and we set the hook fast, but it ran hard and fast pulling line off the reel quicker than we could reel in. We fought him for a long time, even needing to maneuver the boat. The guide thought we'd either hooked a shark or a massive Striper. Finally we got the fish to the boat and were stunned to see that we'd hooked it not in the mouth, but in it's...nether region. This had allowed it to swim full force against the line and appear WAY bigger than it was in reality. Ever non-plussed, our guide tipped his hat up and said "Huh, I ain't nevah seen one hooked in the bunghole befoh..."
Can you give us your tips for packing for a trip outdoors?
Always bring more water than you think you'll need, keep your knife sharp and bring a deck of cards -plastic so no matter if they get wet, they'll still be good to go.
Tell us about an outdoor adventure that changed you.
In the summer of 2012 I hiked the Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with two of my cousins over 4th of July weekend. I'd grown up spending a lot of time in the wilderness as I was really active in Scouts, but by my late 20's it had been probably a decade or more since I'd really hit the trail hard. I spent the better part of three days chasing my cousins through the Whites with burning thighs. At the end of it, I felt a sense of pride and satisfaction that I hadn't experienced in years. It reinvigorated my love of the outdoors and desire to pursue it more actively.
What’s your idea of the ultimate time outdoors?
My ultimate time outdoors is being on a lake in Maine in late August with friends and family. It's a place I spent a lot of formative time growing up and lakes are my favorite recreation area. Swimming, boating, water skiing, and of course fishing all at the end of the dock.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Freckled, tenacious, and curious.
What advice would you give to someone interested in exploring more, whether it be on a yearlong road trip or weekend away?
My advice would be to make it a priority whether you're planning to take off for a long time or want to have more adventurous weekends. Nothing happens if it's expendable at the end of the day, so make small attainable goals on your way to the bigger goals.