fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)


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the rambling of an unfocused mind

I can’t seem to get anything written lately. But not really because of a lack of ideas. My mind is just a bit scattered with all that’s going on. The holidays, life, stuff. A day of solo fly fishing would help, I’m sure, but that ain’t happening anytime soon.

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I gotta follow my own advice: For the last few years [name redacted] has made it a point of ending any email or conversation that includes the mention of someone’s passing with the comment (paraphrasing here), “We’re getting older, you know, and fewer and fewer of our friends are still alive.”

My advice (more paraphrasing): “Appreciate the fact that you can still make that comment.”

Considering this wisdom, I’m now convinced that I need to avoid making any more friends and truly appreciate and make the best of what life has to offer. For the last 30 years I’ve always thought my future was much further ahead. I still do. But I’d like to think that my wife and I have learned a lesson or two over the years…doing now what we can rather than shelve that cruise, fishing trip or nicety of life until retirement.

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Seems I’ll always be in that awkward stage. Though I’m better than I was when younger, I still accidentally break things now and again. I dress better too, but other than the typical aloha shirt and shorts, I don’t have an easily identifiable “style.”

I thank God there are no full-length mirrors on the water. The few pictures of me in full fly fishing regalia confirm that I look less like the well-put together guy in the Orvis catalog — you know the one, with the sexy loops in his back cast, making even a plaid shirt look good — and more like a walking sausage. I can’t help but wonder if even the fish I land are a bit embarrassed for me.

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A week ago my wife told me she was getting her legs “sugared.” My imagination had just started to run away. Then she explained it…what a buzzkill…

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one thing to do when not fly fishing this winter

Even though there is no fly fishing in Yemen (and even if there were you probably wouldn’t want to go), I was pleasantly surprised to see that the rather unassuming Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was recognized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) with three Golden Globe nominations for: Best Actor in a Comedy (Ewan McGregor), Best Actress in a Comedy (Emily Blunt) and Best Motion Picture–Musical or Comedy. A pretty big deal for a movie that pulled in less than $9 million in the U.S.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is one of those stories about unreasonably good-looking people surmounting challenges to fulfill a dream thought absurd, and one of the best examples of a “feel good” movie. I enjoyed it despite issues with some of the fly fishing scenes, which is okay. Fly fishing is essentially a plot device (in both the book and movie) to explore love, separation and loss and ultimately, inspiration and faith. It’s refreshing to see a balanced portrayal of an Arab character and his Middle Eastern country, and the likable cast does a great job bringing a not-quite-over-the-edge spark of screwball energy to their characters. (I would suggest that Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt haven’t been duly awarded for their trade craft.) The direction of Lasse Hallström offers beautiful landscapes as a supporting character.

In a nutshell, the attempt to bring fly fishing to the Yemen River is the quixotic* quest through which the characters search for contentment. A bit like fly fishing itself.

So, this winter, instead of justifying your lack of fishing with excuses of brutal cold, iced guides and the simple lack of a rational reason to fly fish in January, sit down with that beer or scotch, and enjoy. You can even tell your significant other that this is a film with fly fishing that they may actually enjoy.

*Yup, I worked “quixotic” into two posts in a row.


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avoiding that 12-step program

I’m trying to avoid that 12-step program.

I’ve seen the results of the sickness. It’s not pretty. Often, it means a car can’t be parked in the garage.

An unchecked inventory of rods, reels, waders, vests and more spills from the shelves. A lathe, peppered with bits of grip cork, sits front and center, over fading oil stains. Boxes of feathers, thread, fur and hooks litter the floor. A pontoon boat or float tubes fill much of the rest of the space.

After taking an unblinking look at my array of fly fishing gear, it’s become clear that the time to act is now, before I lose control to an outside intervention. The rule around the house is that if an item hasn’t been used in a year, you’d better have a darn good reason — other than unshared sentimentality — for hanging on to it.

That hard look uncovered that 10-foot, 7 wt. rod that’s been wetted only once, chasing bass three years ago. I wouldn’t say I’m a trout snob, but bass fishin’ just hasn’t grabbed hold of me. And the trout I do chase generally don’t require much more than a 5 wt. (I’m actually leaning more toward a 4 wt. nowadays, but that’d require another acquisition.)

Luckily, I don’t have much, yet. There’s an old bamboo rod in one of those cases, but it’s safe; the wife suggested it could be decorative in the fly tying room that’ll be occupied by the last kid at home, probably for another three years. The spinning rods were long ago tucked into the garage at the cabin in the hope that visiting nephews might enjoy them. A boxful of spinners should join them shortly.

I expect that one’s collection of fly rods and reels is acquired for no other reason than fishing. Sometimes we want the latest and greatest, and forget what we already have. Sometimes it’s the search for the gear that will allow for longer casts, straighter cast, more accurate casts, or all of the above. Other considerations include differences in feel, flex, power, speed and fit and finish.

Maybe it’s a quixotic quest, but after casting various rods owned by friends and guides’ rods during the last year, I’m hoping to apply greater scrutiny any future gear acquisitions…buying only what I need, spending the money to get what I really want (with the required scrimping and saving). And there’ll still be room for a back up rod.

I’m hopeful that my belief that garages are for cars — many Californians seem to think that garages are above-ground basements — will keep to a minimum prevent any hoarding.