In the spring of 2004, I stood chest-deep in the Arkansas River in south Wichita, holding the biggest flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) I had ever seen. I’d spent the day stumbling upstream, over rocks, in a pair of borrowed neoprene waders. A cold rain soaked every inch of my clothes. My bare hands were too cold to hold on to anything, much less a writhing, slippery fish. I opted to bear-hug the fish to my chest. I was freezing, and I was smitten. I’d fallen in love with a river.Now, as o...
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