Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

My little Fly Fisher

September 9, 2012

My daughter hears a great deal about fly fishing, and she has joined me fishing from a boat several times.  She also has several fishing games with which she loves to play.  As a little girl just approaching her third birthday, however, she has yet to actually fish, herself.  Still, she loves to grab or rod or reel, when I have one sitting out.  Today, after rescuing a favorite rod from her, I pulled out a Hardy Glass “Aln” rod and matching Flyweight reel, which were given to her by close friends when she was only a few months old.  Her fishing attire was a lady bug costume, as she happened to be pining for Halloween.  I’m almost certain–very hopeful, at least–that she will be ready to fish within a year’s time.

Poetry by Raymond Carver

September 1, 2012

While I understand that he is a very important American writer,  I have never been attracted to Raymond Carver’s work.  I didn’t realize until recently, however, that he was a prolific poet, as well as short story author.  Nor did I realize that he was a fly fisher.  This changed when I came across a poem the other day that really struck me.  It captures a feeling of tension that I have experienced many times as an academic.  The title is “The Debate,” and it was originally published in 1986, in Carver’s book Ultramarine.

“The Debate”

This morning I’m torn
between responsibility to
myself, duty
to my publisher, and the pull
I feel toward the river
below my house. The winter-
run steelhead are in,
is the problem. It’s
nearly dawn, the tide
is high. Even as
this little dilemma
occurs, and the debate
goes on, fish
are starting into the river.
Hey, I’ll live, and be happy,
whatever I decide.

I am grateful that Steve Duda included part of this poem in his recent The Flyfish Journal article on Carver, “Where Water comes together with Other Water” (Volume 3, Issue 4).  I see myself reading more Carver in the future (and The Flyfish Journal will continue to be the one periodical to which I subscribe).

Wandering Mind

August 21, 2012


I surely wouldn’t mind being back on the Henry’s Fork right now, or on any spring creek, for that matter.  This is a picture of my niece and her husband fishing in front of his father’s Island Park home.  My niece has become a real master of that water.  I proud of her for this accomplishment and for a million other reasons too.

Neil Young’s Love Song for Anadromous Salmonids

July 30, 2012

Philosopher A.A. Luce and Trout in the “Wider Sphere”

July 30, 2012

“Every angler of experience meets strange happenings, such as the rise and take, described in the previous chapter.  Such happenings are of a piece with happenings in a much wider sphere; and they remain unexplained and inexplicable unless we assume that there are more things in heaven and earth than materialism can explain or even recognize.  The psychological factor requires the thoughtful angler to assume a spiritual basis for life and existence.  If trout and other living things are regarded as machines that react mechanically to external stimuli, their behavior in general, and in particular their exceptional mass movements and impulses, are inexplicable.”

A. A. Luce, Fishing and Thinking (Hodder and Stoughton Ltd., 1959), 30.

Fly Fishing Friends’ Misadventure

July 29, 2012

When in the East, I often fish with people belonging to a small group of friends.  One of them, Bill, has a boat.  I had planned to fish with him and another friend, Mike, on Friday night for stripers.  Unfortunately, I’ve been hit hard by a cold.  That the price you pay for taking your kid out of daycare and travelling for a month; when you get back there are all sorts of germs for your kid to bring back home.  Such is life.  Anyway, while my friends didn’t get into any fish on Friday, it sounds like they had a good time or, at the very least, created some good memories.

Mike describes the misadventure that he and Bill had last friday night, at his blog: Mike’s Gone Fishin’ …  Again (check out Bill’s blog too, and be sure to click on “artwork.”).  Here’s a teaser:

Where’s 004? Where’s the goddamn waypoint?

Bill hunkered down behind the console windscreen, out of the stinging rain, and stabbed desperately at the Lowrance buttons, frantically popping up glowing GPS coordinates and relief maps and menus and who knows what in rapid succession, searching urgently for the tiny boat ramp icon as we skipped across the surface of the lake like a thrown stone. Into darkness.

Away from Reality … and Posting.

July 12, 2012

My apologies for the lack of posts lately.  I put off far too much work, while I was visiting home and travelling around the West.  By doing so, I allowed several deadlines to creep up on me.  I’ll meet these soon and get back to the “real world” (the world some people reduce to “nature”) and post about fly fishing and fly fishing literature.  In the meantime, I hope you’re having more fun than I am.

A couple of the books that have always been on the shelves at our cabin, along with a Bunyan Bug and my Granddad’s Hardy “LRH” reel.

The Road

June 9, 2012


My life as a somewhat rogue academic and obsessed fly fisher is hard to describe.  In fact, some of it really can’t be described, as my academic work involves protected cultural knowledge.  This picture, however, sort of sums it all up.  It was taken in my favorite Canadian motel room, a few days ago.

The East and Montana: Norman Maclean’s Views … and Mine

May 24, 2012

 Those who know me and who are also familiar with author Norman Maclean understand that Maclean’s writings resonate strongly with me.  This is because my personal and professional lives parallel Maclean’s in a few small ways, the same part of Montana that was important to him is tremendously important to me, and some of my views of religion seem to echo his. 

Maclean never made his views of religion particularly clear.  An academic mentor of mine was a colleague of Maclean’s at the University of Chicago.  This mentor, a well-known scholar of religion, told me that when he was with Maclean, the latter never really discussed religion and certainly never spoke about fishing or nature in mystical terms.  Indeed, this mentor said that he and many other colleagues were surprised to discover that Maclean was so interested in such topics, after A River Runs through It and Other Stories was published in 1976.

A short 1986 interview by Nicholas O’Connell with Maclean, however, adds a bit definition to Maclean’s views of religion.  And, as vague as his statement is, it sums up my views as well.

I feel I have company about me when I’m alone in the woods.  I feel they’re beautiful.  They’re a kind of religion to me.  My dearest friends are also beautiful.  My wife was and infinitely beautiful thing.  I certainly feel there are men and women whom I have known and still know who are really above what one could think was humanly possible.  They and the mountains are for me “what passeth human understanding.”[1]

Like Maclean, I have followed an academic path—one that has taken me to some completely unforeseen places, geographically and otherwise.  With regard to my geographic landing points, I am often asked, upon telling people that I am originally from Montana, what I am doing in the East.  Drawing again from O’Connell’s interview, I find that Maclean provides a reasonably good answer to this question for me.  I should note, however, that there are many more options for the academician in Montana now than there were when Maclean left for Chicago in the 1920s.  On the other hand, today’s academic job market is much more competitive than it was in Maclean’s time.  Regardless, here are Maclean’s thoughts about having one foot in Montana and the other in the East:

Very, very early I formed this rough outline in my mind of this life I have led.  I love Montana with almost a passion, but I saw I couldn’t live here really if I was going to be a teacher;  I’d have to be degraded and submit to views that I couldn’t accept.  I felt that this was imposed upon us from the outside—that wasn’t our true nature.  I tried to figure out a way to continue this two-world thing that I had begun by going East.

And that’s probably the chief reason I quit teaching and then went back to it.  I figured teaching probably was the only way I could live in the two worlds.  I could teach in the East, and that would give me a chance to come back a fair number of summers and retain a permanent footing in a homeland that I knew so well.  I thought that out as I was doing it.  I just didn’t stumble on the life I have lived.[2]

Decades later, I’m in that spot where I too have quit teaching and am about to return to it.  My quitting allowed me to reduce my “worlds” from three to two, since my wife and I were actually working in different eastern states.  Now, we’re together, and we mostly inhabit one eastern world.  Happily, we also still spend time in Montana.  In fact, we’ll be heading there in a few days.  This, of course, is what brought Maclean to my mind in the first place.  Soon, I’ll be fly fishing my “home waters” in the Big Blackfoot River drainage.  This is where Maclean’s early home waters were too.

[1] Nicholas O’Connell, “Interview with Norman Maclean,” in The Norman Maclean Reader: Essays, Letters, and Other Writings by the Author of A River Runs through It, ed. O. Alan Weltzein, 180 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008).

[2] Ibid., 176.

Fly Reel Music at Silver Creek Outfitters

May 17, 2012

Four classical musicians perform music, using spring and pawl fly reels from Hardy’s “Classic Line,” at Silver Creek Outfitters.  It looks like the instruments include a Lightweight and several Marquis reels.

Many a fly fisher has been seduced by the unmistakable sound of Hardy reels.  I am one of them.  Probably many more fly fishers have been angered to hear a Hardy reel up the stream from them, screaming each time some other guy catches a feisty fish.  What I know for certain is that my wife makes me disengage the pawl on my reel whenever I am cleaning or changing lines at home.  I guess she has a tin ear.


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