Mick Miller Story

I grew up fishing on the Skeena River. I started gear fishing when I was a young lad,  sitting in a fold-up chair for hours waiting for the tip of my rod to dance and signal a strike. One time, something big hit my trout rod and when I grabbed it, I fell into the river. 

Fast forward two decades, and now I am addicted to fly fishing with a single-handed and double-handed rod. I enjoy fishing for trout, coho, sockeye, and the o’mighty steelhead. I love to fish. However, most people don’t recognize or know I have a condition and how it impacts me mentally and physically.

I have Tripe A Syndrome (also known as Algrove’s Syndrome), which is an inherited condition characterized by three specific features: Addison disease, achalasia, and alacrima. Many of the features of Triple A Syndrome are caused by dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary body processes. 

Features of this are muscle weakness, movement problems, and abnormalities in my extremities – known as peripheral neuropathy. These features limit my mobility and stability, especially while navigating uneven ground. 

Fly fishing is an opportunity for me to get away from my concerns, worries, troubles, etc. I go fishing to be outside, explore, and be surrounded by the peace and quiet that being on the river provides me. Days on the river are tiresome and frustrating. I trip and fall in the water while wading, while walking on the rocks, and while bush-wacking to get into spots. The trek is not easy, but reaching the destination is rewarding. I use adaptive equipment that helps me get into spots, wade, and swing a fly. 

These devices are ankles braces, wrist braces, an Eazi-Cast wrist strap, a wading belt that has additional medial support, and a wading staff. Without these adaptive aids, fly fishing would be nearly impossible for me. Navigating the natural landscape can be extremely difficult for me. Without my wading staff, wading would be nearly impossible for me. My balance is poor due to muscle wasting in my lower legs, ankles, and feet. I have lost my balance and fallen in the river. It happens more often that I like to admit. I deal with these accidents, laugh it off, lift myself out of the water and get back to chucking my fly. These aids help me enjoy fishing, and I am thankful to have them.

The adaptive aids that I use help me find an appropriate balance between safety and comfort, and the maximum level of independent function at which I can enjoy the activity. The fresh air does me good. It relaxes me. Leisure time spent in a beautiful environment with my dog has a profound impact on my wellbeing. It reduces the stress and concerns that congest my head. 

Finally, I am appreciative for the support I have received from my family and friends, who support my adventurous (sometimes dangerous) fishing adventures. Volunteering at SkeenaWild has been a rewarding experience. I feel good being part of a community that supports the health and wellness of the salmon and the habitat they depend on. SkeenaWild is an amazing organization supporting the social, economic, and environment sustainability of the salmon and steelhead population and the communities that depend on their survival.