Throughout my life I have been accused of being a lot of things and even called a few names. Sad to say- most of it is true and, some of it's good, some bad but most is indifferent. One of the things that falls into the indifferent category is that I tend to live in the past.

I never really realized it until the love of my life and I went fishing one day and, while we were running down the bay to the spot that I hoped would be the place that she caught her first redfish on fly, I was pointing out different areas and telling stories about this and that. As we pulled up to the small island where I was to park the boat she made a comment that put simply was, "You really do cherish the past, don't you?"

When I asked her what she meant she pointed out that I can remember every little detail about fishing or hunting trip that happened ten, fifteen or even twenty years ago. She even made reference to the fact that I talk about old friends that I have not seen in years like we had drinks with them the night before and that all of the music that I like and listen to is at least five or more years old.

I have no idea for what reason I am this way but the simple fact is- she was not wrong. In fact other people have accused me of having a pornographic, oops, I mean photographic memory.

This affliction has served me well as a fisherman and a guide, I guess. I mean I can wake up the morning of a trip, look at the calendar and the weather and then pull from hundreds if not thousands of memories to decide which point of the compass I should turn my boat to once we are underway.

Again, I just do not know where it comes from however, I do have numerous physical items boxed up which, I guess in some ways, help stimulate many of my fondest memories, especially those from the field. You see, I have several wooden boxes that sit on a shelf in my room each one containing numerous small items that I have collected over the years that I can hold in my hands, close my eyes and go back to that place and time.

Some of the more prominent things you will find in the boxes are flies from different trips. For example there is the fly that I used to catch my first tarpon, the one that brought my first truly 'big' tarpon, the one from my first bonefish and permit and most importantly, the fly that I caught my first redfish on and the one that I caught my hundredth redfish on.

Of course there are no guidelines to the items that make it into the boxes. I have just about every hunting and fishing license I ever purchased, from many different states and even a few other countries in there, as well as a couple of stones picked from a streambed in Canada where I fished for smallmouth bass with my fly rod.

As I look through the box now I find scales from tarpon that I have caught both big and small, arrowheads that I have found while hunting, spent shell casings from memorable hunts, the tail feathers from a big ol' greenhead stuck to a picture of Sonny, my lab, during his first duck hunt. I also have several pocket knives that belonged to my father and some from my grandfather. I could of course go on and on but I am sure you get the picture.

There is no doubt that our pasts shape our lives and turn us into the people we are. I have no doubt that my memories have made me "different" from everyone else considering that all of my best memories have come from the outdoors. I mean let's face it, if all of my very best memories include boats, rods, guns and dogs, well I guess I cannot help but being a little "weird" (another word people use to describe me that is accurate and I am okay with that).

I guess my obsession with the past is one of the reasons that I started the tradition or ritual on my boat of giving those who catch their first redfish the fly they used to catch the fish on. I have no idea how many of these flies I have cut off of the leader and given to anglers over the last decade or so and truthfully, it really is not that important. However, I do know that I gave the girl her fly that day and to this very day, she remembers that special day on the water.