Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Song Of The Angler:

From A.J. McClane's "Song Of The Angler" [Field & Stream, 1967]:

Who but an angler knows that magic hour when the red lamp of summer drops behind blackening hemlocks and the mayflies emerge from the dull folds of their nymphal robes to dance in ritual as old as the river itself? Trout appear one by one, and the angler begins his game in movements as stylized as Japanese poetry. Perhaps he will hook that wonder-spotted rogue, or maybe he will remain in silent pantomime long into the night with no visible reward.

Vis-à-vis "Digital Archeology", silicon-cemented ephemera:

Thunderheads erased the setting sun; our captain deviated an additional fifty miles into the Gulf Of Mexico, fading the storm into the distance. As night fell, we [the boat carried twenty-odd anglers] baited our hooks [squid, or shrimp], set our lines, and waited. The ocean was calm; our boat, a gentle pendulum, hypnotically pitching. Deck lights illuminated the agate-colored water, attracting bait fish; blood-colored squid, attracted by the bait, darted through the water; attracted by the squid was the occasional predator: barracuda, small sharks, mackerel. A sojourning leatherback floated beneath us, undisturbed by the food chain. Flying fish scintillated through the air [and occasionally into our boat], gliding on the breeze pushed out to sea by the distant storm. As Hemingway wrote, "A man is never lost at sea."

Never lost at sea, and never lost canoeing a somniferous stream: lazing in a canoe, floating under a willow canopy; catching the occasional bronzeback, or simply pulling the canoe ashore and swimming in a cerulean pool. Floating down the river, using the sun as a map: if the sun isn't setting, you don't need to be anywhere else.

Streams evolve into rivers, and angling evolves in tandem: into fly fishing. Of course, one can fly fish a stream, but the intellectual [and physical] demands of fly fishing often run contrary to the languor of a slow-running stream--though fly fishing a stream can certainly be more rewarding [and demanding] than most angling experiences. And fly fishing is physically demanding--not in exertion, but in specificity. And that specificity demands the intellectual challenge: in choosing [or tying] the proper fly, and knowing where and how that fly needs to be placed on the water: so begins that silent pantomime mentioned by A.J. McClane.