Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Partly Cloudy

It looks like it going to be a great day here in the Upper Midwest. Not too hot, windy or stormy. Partly cloudy with temperatures rising into the mid seventies. Mrs. T is busy doing her thing and I'll go..... flyfishing or maybe birding with the Baron. Hmmmm.
Actually, I've been thinking "deep thoughts" about both hobbies. They are really very similar. To be successful you need to be observant. Close to nature works best. The best trout fishing is invariably away from the crowd. Birding is as well. You often find yourself in the most beautiful of places. Crowds of people might work once in a while but I suspect solitary or with one other person is best. You need to be quiet you know. Stalking really.

Both hobbies have their "technical" aspects like "hatches" and "migrations and specialized equipment You need to know how to "read the water" i.e. where to find you quarry. Both can produce stories of which I have more than a few. Like the time I caught a bat who was attracted to my homemade fly. Or when I was trapped against a cliff while two testosterone crazed elk had it out right in front of me. Or..well the tendency and the need to place close attention to things and the time to contemplate about them. This is why, for example, trout fishing has produced the only real "literature" in the fishing genre. I mean what are you going to do with a $70,000 dollar bass boat, 3 guys on a polluted river and 2 cases of beer?

I'm often asked what I find appealing about each sport. A number of years ago, a Justice of the Supreme Court of Michigan , who wrote a best selling novel (Anatomy of a Murder), which later became a movie starring Jimmy Stewart, answered that question in a way I've always liked. I think his answer applies to birding as well as to flyfishing.
Testament of a Fisherman by John Voelker (Robert Traver)
"I fish because I love to; because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful, and hate the environs where crowds of people are found, which are invariably ugly; because of all the television commercials, cocktail parties, and assorted social posturing I thus escape; because, in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing things they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion; because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience; because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don't want to waste the trip; because mercifully there are no telephones on trout waters; because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness; because bourbon out of an old tin cup always tastes better out there; because maybe one day I will catch a mermaid; and, finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant - and not nearly so much fun.


  1. Well, a couple things occur to me. First, while not producing any meaningful literature, three guys, a boat and a case of beer often produce some amazing stories;)

    Secondly, the Justice's quote seems to apply to birding or hiking but I don't think it applies to fishing, not in spirit.

  2. Nice, Troutbirder, I really like it! (And do so wish I wasn't trapped in an office most of the time.)

  3. Nice post. I agree wholeheartedly.

  4. The peace of the woods, the ripple of water, the smell of fish... OH! If everyone could just slow down enough to fish or walk a wooded path, this world wouldn't be so plastic.
    PS.. Even though we're Canadian, we're also bourbon people!

  5. I liked your philosophical excursion. Both fly fishing & birding involve human animals with other animals/nature in embodied ways that demand full engagement. The fancy graphite rod or binoculars are not tools for dominating nature, but communication devices that connect us with it.

    Yes, bombing over the water in a noisy boat with a case of beer can make for great stories--but very anthropocentric stories where nature is merely the background or a thing to be used.

  6. When one catches a trout and feels he/she is superior to said trout then one may place the trout in the creel. I find myself keeping fewer and fewer trout as I age. Thus, I always use a barbless hook. I read once that a fly tier is always learning new tecniques, tricks, ideas and concepts. That keeps one's mind from rusting and decaying. Matching wits with the brain of a trout is certainly a humbling experience. Helping the Oregon fish biologist plant trout in remote desert reservoirs is infinitely more rewarding than catching a trout. Just a few thoughts your post stimulated--PapaCoyote

  7. I don't know a thing about fishing, but I do know that that the movie, Anatomy of a Murder, was filmed in Ishpeming, MI (UP) and surrounding areas.

    Enjoyed the post.