This is the introduction to a poetry collection called Fishing With The Famous. It is unlikely it will ever find a publisher, but the introduction is a good reminder that the 2017 fishing season is out there in front of us and most trouters will find anticipation building as we move from snow season to melt-down. Mostly I fish alone – physically speaking. Yet, more often than not I am accompanied metaphysically – in the astral plane — by someone most of us wouldn’t immediately equate with trout fishing. It started with imagining an outing with Mother Teresa and has gone on from there. Fishing alone is for a write a normal condition. The work we do doesn’t take place in committees or in groups. It can’t. Neither can fishing. I fish when I writ,e and write when I fish. Here’s the first poem in the collection:
FISHING WITH THE FAMOUS #1
I ask Mother Teresa if I can
Call her Mother T,
And if she’s related to Mr. T,
Both known for their tenacity,
Twinkling their eyes, seeking spotlights
Tiny as she is, I have to
Place her carefully in shallow riffles,
Her habit absorbing water like a sponge.
Naturally she wants to work the
Deepest, blackest holes,
She calls Calcutta-ish,
Wants to wade deep in the murk and mud,
We catch no fish this day,
But coat the river with compassion.
Fishing is not in the least bit an important activity – unless of course you are fishing for food to keep you and your family alive, in which case it becomes paramount. It’s the unimportance of fishing that creates it’s appeal, and ironically, it’s not about actually catching fish; it’s about being out there in places where trout dwell, which are almost always remote and beautiful.
Personally I’ve never had one of those 100- or 200- fish days alleged by guzzlers in bars, fly shops and next to camp fires. At Six-and-Sixty I remain content catching and releasing seven-inch native brook trout from cramped and remote brooks and cricks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
As an author I’ve gotten numerous offers from folks to fish with them, even to wing away to places in Canada, Alaska and South America – or even more exotic destinations. I have only accepted one time – from a modest fellow who just wanted to show me where his dad taught him to fish for trout. We went, and treated it like church.
My basic personality is that of a loner. I participated in all sorts of group and team activities over my life and enjoyed and learned from them all. But I like doing things alone, which may help explain the reading, writing, and painting.
Usually main fishing partner has been God, not He Of The High Above, but Loosianian God, the former professor and corporate flack, a genteel gentleman of the old south (Baton Rouge) who fishes with an intensity and focus that borders on the rage of a Berserker. Me, I’m a butterfly-watching meanderman of rivers, and because of this I tend to see a lot more of my surroundings than God, but since he made all the stuff it probably doesn’t hold the same allure it holds for me.
Some people, those who consistently catch fish, manage to stay fully focused on the task at hand. Me, I lean toward fey and easily entertained/distracted. Fishless days, of which I have many, are neither failures, nor wastes of time.
Most “real” trout fishermen probably prefer to fish alone, not out of some sort of psychological disability, but because we like to be in our own little world, whether it’s daydreaming or fishing with intent. As you get older though, you realize it makes more sense to have a partner nearby – to give searchers a place to start looking for your body. (HINT: Always paint the bottoms of your wading boots bright orange. If you float your hat and die, this will help the divers find you faster.)
But finding partners is not easy. A fishing partner is in many ways far more important than just a close friend, and God knows’ they’re really hard to find. You generally need to know someone pretty well before you take them to a river with you, and especially well before you take them to your secret places. It helps if your fishing partners are geographically challenged and easily disoriented and lost. My main fishing partners over the years have been God, Bob Linsenman, Steve Burton, Freddy Lee. Big Bo & his son Dano, my sons Tim and Troy, Robochef, Reginald the Yank-Canuck, and most recently Jambe Longues. I’ve fished with others on occasion, but these five are the ones I know, trust, and can rely on.
Fishing with a partner is in a lot of ways a misleading phrase. Rarely do you actually fish WITH your partner. You drive to a river and you say, you wanna to upstream or down, and your partner picks and you take the opposite and you agree to meet back at the truck at o-dark o’clock.
The great thing about imagining partners in verse is that you don’t actually have to fish with them.
In any event, the imaginings are mine and like fishing of no great overarching social value other than to keep me out of bars.
Tight lines in your minds. Over.