[Non-fisher folk should make sure to read the footnotes.]
While that hard-hitting bastion of political commentary, Field & Stream, didn’t dig up much news when it comes to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, an underlying current hints at a convert, nearly imperceptible effort to divide and conquer the fly fishing world.
On the Field & Stream Web site and in the current issue, interviews with both candidates hit the usual high points: the environmental and energy, gun control, the Clean Water Act, etc.
Meanwhile, the more important truths come out in the details.
In response to Deputy Editor Anthony Licata’s question, “Do you fish?” McCain responds:
Oh, I fish all the time. I fish for catfish. I fish for bass. I fish for bluegill that all are on our property [in a small pond] and in Oak Creek, which is our property up in northern Arizona. It’s on Oak Creek. Also, there is a fish hatchery that’s down from us — not on the property — obviously the state fish hatchery, trout, but I have to admit to you I’ve never caught one of their trout. Maybe they’ve never put them into the creek near our home.
Roughfishermen1, and by default that includes brownliners2, McCain may be your man.
But contrast grows, albeit not to the levels of black and white, when Obama answers the question, “What do you like to do outside?”
…one of the pleasures of being a presidential candidate has been traveling all across the country, and we spent quite a bit of time in Montana recently. And I’ve got to say that I am absolutely certain that one way or another, after this presidential process is over, whether — because I lose or because I win — and I’ve got a little vacation time coming, I’m going to learn how to fly fish, because that land is spectacular.
Obama: the hope of the blueliners3?
Admittedly and sadly, I probably disdain the divisiveness of politics more than any rabid and fanatical supporter of the Democratic party or GOP4. But I can’t help but wonder if we’d all be better off if any sitting president spent more time fishing5.
1 A moniker applied to those who fish for species deemed less desirable, i.e. carp, catfish, pikeminnow and often anything with fins that resides in often odiferous warmer, urban waters and the sluggish flows of irrigation ditches.
2 From “brownliners”: Those fishermen who dare to chase water fish is to be found in the aforementioned warmer, urban waters and irrigation ditches.
3 Those fishermen who chase the wily trout in snow-fed, crystal clear waters, such as alpine streams, spring creeks and wild rivers.
4 Ironically, southern Democrats first used the “grand old party” nickname and the Democratic party is, in fact, the older of the two political factions. The term was allowed to slip from the hands of the democrats co-opted by the republicans used by the press in reference to Republicans in 1884 with the election of Ulysses S. Grant. (In the early days of the automobile, the “GOP” nickname gained another popular, although fleeting, translation: “Get Out and Push.”)
5 Fishing presidents, good and bad, include Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Grover Cleveland, Jimmy Carter, Dwight D. Eisenhower and George Washington. FDR had a special chair built into his boats to allow him to fish. Eisenhower tried to teach vice-presidential running mate Richard Nixon to fly fish. (“It was a disaster,” Nixon admitted. “After hooking a limb the first three times, I caught my shirt on the fourth try. The lessons ended abruptly.”) Jimmy Carter loved fishing but admitted to being “piscatorially retarded.” And George Washington was, for a time, a commercial fisherman.