Friday, February 03, 2006

Fish Story Friday-The Passion of the Cast

I promised my friend from Michigan, Pete Venlet that I would join in weekly with a Friday fishing post. Here’s the first installment, which is not really a fishing story but sets the stage for some:


I started flyfishing in 1991-I do not know why. I do know for damn sure that it was not because of that movie-you know the one I'm talking about. That's right, "A River Runs Through It." I know this because that movie did not come out until 1992 and I also thought that it sucked, unlike the book which was wonderful. I hated it because it was basically a heaping more syrupy sentimentality than sport-like a fishing show that might be shown on the Lifetime Channel. I disliked it for the same reason I disliked "Field of Dreams," which was not a baseball movie, but in essence, a soap opera featuring ballbats and cornstalks. Also, if I watch a baseball movie, I don't want to it be a backdrop for Holly Hunter to screech at the good people of Iowa about book censorship. Not unless that somehow becomes an occasion for her to be felled by a screaming liner off the shin, then I'm OK with it-but I digress. Oh, yes, fishing.


I probably would not have taken up fly-fishing after seeing that movie and after seeing the short-term hysteria and fad surrounding it. For a time it fattened the wallets of fly shop owners-shops overrun with wannabee yuppie flyfishers who loaded up on fancy rods, reels and vests-people who looked liked they walked through an LL Bean store and everything stuck to them. Most of them, I sure, never darkened the bank of any stream for any length of time, preferring not to get their $500.00 waders wet or their fly line slimed in any way. I'm confident they found out quickly that it took work to learn how to cast and read the water and unlike fishing in ponds, trout fishing was often a lot of casting and hiking with nothing to show for the effort. And I know they discovered that no matter how perfect they looked in their fancy outfits and no matter how powerful they were at work, most of the time they were getting consistently out-foxed by a 10-inch salmonid with brain the size of a pencil eraser. By 1995, most of these "movie fishers" were gone from the scene- on to other habits and pursuits that were now more trendy. I was just getting hooked- the love of standing in a mountain stream waving a stick led to me buying flyfishing books by the hundreds, tying my own flies, taking trips out west to fish the great waters of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, then it was on to building my own rods, then saltwater flyfishing, then angling for a job on the coast to do even more of it. It’s funny that I can trace almost all of my passsions and life’s decisions since 1991 on the fact that one night I picked up an Orvis catalog and decided I needed to buy a flyrod-for some reason, in my first 35 years that idea had not once crossed my mind, then all of a sudden, I had to have one right then-next day air at that. I stared at that catalog until I was stupid and weighed my options like I knew what the hell I was looking at. I decided on a 6 foot, 6 inch, 4 weight rod called “the Flea,” because I planned to fish the small, canopied streams at a state park about an hour away. I flailed the park waters to a froth for at least a year before I caught my first fish-a freshly stocked 10 inch rainbow that came out from nowhere in a six-inch deep riffle to grab my fly and streak upstream, jumping and leaping several times before I admired it, slipped out the hook and released him back. I’m still firmly hooked, 15 years later.

Next week-fly-fishing and memory.

8 Comments:

Blogger The Wizard said...

Excellant story...out roots of how we got started into fishing are important.

I have never seen the movie "A river runs through it"...Instead I let myself get awestruk by stories by the likes of Hemmingway, Traver, A.K. Best et-al an then only after being prodded by my brothers who were, in retrospect, at least at that time, wiser than I.

Thanks again for the story!

12:00 PM  
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1:35 AM  
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2:02 AM  
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2:18 AM  
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5:17 PM  
Anonymous Zachary said...

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6:29 PM  
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7:14 PM  
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