Saturday, April 7, 2012

20 Questions: Ben Smith

Ben Smith is a creek freak. I know, because it takes one to know one.

He crawls around the Arizona backcountry chasing wild trout, and he shares his tales with the rest of the world through his blog, Arizona Wanderings. And Ben's tales are wonderful--he's a great storyteller.

But what I like most about Ben is his desire to share the crafts of writing and fly fishing with others who endeavor to do the same thing. He's the creator of The Backcountry Journal, a site that features the work of a number of writers who focus on the outdoors, (I'm proud to be included, and Ben, I do intend to write another story in the near future--bear with me) and the adventures they enjoy while fishing and hunting. If you haven't checked out the site, you're missing something pretty special.

I'm also impressed with Ben's "day job." He's a junior high teacher--I have a junior-high-aged daughter, and I can only imagine the drama he deals with on a daily basis. I'm sure his fishing and hunting are more than just enjoyable--I'd venture to say they're therapeutic.

I'm a frequent reader of Ben's good work, and if you haven't taken the time to get to know him through his blog, hopefully what you'll read below will serve as a proper introduction. And hopefully, you'll keep coming back to Arizona Wanderings and The Backcountry Journal, where Ben's great work turns up frequently.

On with the questions...

Ben and the wife... Nice work, brother ;)
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Hanging out with my wife and pups after an unbelievable day on the water.

What is your greatest fear? 
Letting down those that I love.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? 
Probably the Apostle Peter. Like him, I love God and love to fish, but find myself fighting a temper and the bad habit of speaking before I think.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 
My temper and the fact that I usually speak before I think

What is the trait you most deplore in others? 
Not taking responsibility for their actions

What is your favorite journey? 
I drove across the United States one summer with my wife and it was one of the greatest journeys I’ve ever been on. I’m looking forward to doing it again.

On what occasion do you lie? 
When someone asks me about my hunting or fishing spot.

Which living person do you most despise? 
The guy who got to the creek just before me and spooked all the fish.

The boys...
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 
“Here’s the thing…”

What is your greatest regret? 
Not really getting into fly fishing until I lived in the middle of the desert. I wasted many good years living next to cold running water and not fly fishing.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
In order of importance
  • My wife, Michelle 
  • My pups 
  • Fly Fishing 
  • Hunting
Which talent would you most like to have? 
I’d really like the ability to fly. My two-and-a-half-hour drive to the creek would only take minutes, and plus I’d always be first on the water. What could be better than that?

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 
Getting my wife to agree to marry me.

What is your most treasured possession? 
I have an old beat-up Mossberg 20 gauge that was passed down to me. It’s not much to look at, but it swings real nice and hits what I’m aiming at.

Who are your favorite writers? 
Walt Prothero and John Gierarch are two of my favorites. I also read far too much Louis L’amour when I was kid and always thought I would grow up and be a cowboy. I never go on a hunting trip without putting one of his books in my pack.

Who are your heroes? 
Christ, A. Lincoln, T. Jefferson, Dick Proenneke, Walt Prothero, and every trout bum doing what they love.

How would you like to die? 
Quickly and in the middle of a stream.

What’s on your iPod? 
Third Eye Blind, Iron and Wine, Steve Miller Band, Audioslave, The Beatles, Incubus

What would your profession be if you couldn’t do what you do now? 
Something outdoors related that would give me plenty of time to spend fishing and hunting.

If there is a Heaven, and you go to Heaven, what would God say to you upon your arrival? “Welcome. There’s a trout stream just on the other side of that street of gold.”

What’s the closest you’ve ever been to dying? 
I lived in Hawaii for a while and there were a couple of times surfing that really scared me. Getting pounded by waves on the bottom of the ocean is not that much fun.

BONUS QUESTION: If you could go back in time, what year would you visit first? 
1804 – I’d join Lewis and Clark and see the West before everyone else got there.


  1. Wonderful! I'm learning a little late that Ben is a person to be emulated. He's a class act in a world full of selfishness.

  2. That Ben guy? He's allright by my book

  3. I've never been so proud to be called a "creek freak." Thank you for the opportunity Chris and the kind words.


  4. My pleasure, my friend... if you ever want to chase some wild trout here in the north country, there's an open invitation...

  5. Ben is a great guy indeed! Thanks for helping us learn more about him. Creek Freak ...there's a story there somewhere...if Ben comes up north, we should all get together. We could show him creeks he would drool over.

  6. You ain't kiddin' ... he'd never want to leave...

  7. One of the best 20 Questions I have read. I follow Ben and his blog,but reading this was a nice way to hear more about him. Great stuff!

  8. Very well said and accurate about Ben. He's this century's conservationist, poet and sportsmen - dare I say Arizona's new Bob Hirsch. - doug