I saw Jim Cuddy (of Blue Rodeo) perform "All I Need" on Songwriters' Cafe on TV tonight -- something about the song caused me to reflect a bit on fly fishing -- and some of what it has come to mean to me -- I've rewrote the lyrics ever so slightly, trying to keep the original feel of Jim's fine words -- hope you enjoy:
Take me down to the riverside
Wash me up from this dusty ride
I'll pitch my tent in a field nearby
Then I?ll pick up a rod and cast out a fly
Ah the moment comes
The trout jumps, set the hook fast don?t wait too long
It might never come again
Once I saw myself as someone dying to be freed
But the fish have led me here and that's all I need
Beautiful rivers rolling all across this graceful land
Too many to fish, so little time, nobody else would understand
Just waving your fly rod around don't mean that much
Not like the thrill you get when your fly feels the trout's touch
For all the world you held, for any time upon the shelf
For just the way you might have seen yourself
But you come to realize that your life is bound to change
You?re never quite the same once fishing has caused you to rearrange
Now when I look outside, at what?s out there
I don?t see myself anymore in fear and greed
Not since the fish have led me here
Just put a fly rod in my hand, that?s all I need
Beautiful rainbow fish with hues so bright
Will wander through my dreams tonight
Whispered words and timeless days
A rise in the stream, we're only a wade away
For all the hurt we?ve taken,
For all the times we were mistaken
Those things that mostly left you wondering why
Now fall away with each cast, as the river?s current goes by
Once I was a man that I no longer want to be
The fish have led me here and that's all I need
There was a post on a fly fishing forum about fly fishing snobs and how one told if you were a snob or not. I thought of the quote I'd read somewhere once about fly fishers being snobs as far as looking down their noses at other anglers, like spin fishermen or bait casters. That they see fly fishing as the pure form of fishing, the most beautiful way of catching a fish, the sweetest science of angling. And that of fly fishers, dry fly fishermen were the biggest snobs since they saw themselves as the purest of fly anglers. Well that thought caused me a problem -- I don't like to think of myself as any sort of snob -- but I do love to fly fish almost exclusively -- and I do prefer drifting a dry fly to a rising trout.
Then I thought of another quote by John Gierach that always made me think of what others might consider "snobbish" fly fishers:
"Fly fishermen would descend on the stream like information-gathering modules, sprouting collective nets, specimen bottles, and stream thermometers, and could often be heard muttering to each other in some foreign language I later discovered to be Latin."
But then I realized I knew Latin terms such as:
Amelitidae (for Brown Duns), Baetidae (for Blue-Winged Olives), Baetiscidae (for Armored Mayflies), Caenidae (for Angler?s Curses), Ephemerellidae (for Hendricksons, Sulphurs, PMDs, BWOs), Ephemeridae (for Hexes and Big Drakes), Heptageniidae (for March Browns, Cahills, Quill Gordons), Isonychiidae (for Slate Drakes), Leptohyphidae (for Tricos), Leptophlebiidae (for Black Quills and Blue Quills) and Metretopodidae (for Pseudo-Gray Drakes) -- and this just for Mayflies (or Family Ephemeroptera).
Damn does knowing all these Latin terms really mean I've become a "fly fishing snob" myself?!?!?!? Or did those Biology classes actually come in handy after all???? LOL LOL
"Fly fishing is solitary, contemplative, misanthropic, scientific in some hands, poetic in others, and laced with aesthetic considerations. It?s not even clear if catching fish is actually the point." -John Gierach
I found the original version of this poem on the North American Fly Fishing Forum, http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/fo...tmas-7976.html -- but I've altered or edited it so it has a definite Steelheader's theme -- hope you enjoy:
Twas the steelheading week before Christmas and on my favourite Great Lakes trib
Not a fish was hitting and the fishing was dreary, certainly not very glib
The water was frigid, the weather was raw, brisk was the air,
Too windy for fishing, a gale force blow but did I give a care.
The steelhead were nestled down deep in their pools
Proving once again that fish are nobody's fools.
While I in my waders and old fishing cap,
As usual just couldn't cast worth a crap.
When further upstream there arose such a crash
I started, and slipped, and sat down with a splash.
My glasses went one way, my rod went another.
Cold water went everywhere, what a bother.
The gleam of the sun on the river around,
Was lovely, but heck, I was going to drown!!
When what to my wondering eyes should appear?
But a funky old float tube. (The end must be near).
With a little old angler, too fat for the belly boat
Who was trying his best just to keep it afloat.
Through the rapids he teetered, bounced off every big rock.
Old Nick's in big trouble, I thought with a shock.
But he slid in so slowly, so graceful, as he approached my favorite hole
Puffing on his pipe as if none of the river's challenges had taken their toll
And he glided in softly, as smooth as can be.
No fish would be spooked, except maybe me.
And then in a twinkling he popped out of his craft
Like a cork from a bottle, I shouldn?t have laughed.
He brought from a rod case a graphite rod in pieces of four
A great huge Spey doublehander of 9 weight or more
He was looking like the well dressed guide, straight from the pages
Of catalogs like Orvis', LL Bean's, Patagonia's, Cabela's and Sage's.
A vest full of goodies encircled his frame
With gadgets and zingers, too many to name.
He spoke not a word but went straight to his fun,
Throwing laser-like casts, seeming straight from a gun.
For awhile he swung Turduckens and Clear Water Speys ever so right
Then he switched to a single handed rod, rollcasting with loops so tight
Throwing Clausers and Zonkers, Stone Nymphs and Wooly Buggers
Egg Sucking Leeches, Matukas, Moose Turds, even one or two Muddlers
He had all the mysteries of steelheading debunked.
But darned if old Santa Claus didn't get skunked.
Not a bite or even a tap; I felt sorry for the jolly old elf
But why fish this river, I was asking myself.
He could have fished the Skagit, the Columbia or even the Snake
Seems that fishing this Great Lakes trib was just a great big mistake.
I needn't have worried, I had nothing to dread
For he gave me a wink and here's what he said.
"We all should remember" and here's what he's wishing,
"It's not about fish, but it's all about fishing."
He sprang to his float tube, to the rocks gave a push.
And shot down the stream with a splash and a slosh.
But I heard him exclaim as he drifted from sight.
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all keep lines tight."