Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
Click on Mark Twain to jump to Troutbirders book review blog

Friday, March 26, 2021


It was to be the first outing of the trout fishing season. My new "birding" hobby had somewhat detracted from a lifelong love of troutfishing the previous summer. This year, I was determined to find a reasonable compromise between the two interests. I would do the fishing thing on cloudy days, when the fish were more active and go birding on those bright sunny days, when the birds were busy and me and Baron, my GSD, could tromp the woodland trails, binoculars and camera in hand. The day seemed perfect. Mid sixties in temp, with a heavy overcast and little or no wind. I headed off to the Root River, east of Forestville State Park. It was one of my favorite "home waters." A place where I could usually count on success. Sometimes great success. Mr. Baron was left behind that day, as his love of romping in the water was bound to scare my off my prey. Parked along the gravel road, I headed across a plowed corn field towards the stream. It was in the tree line about a quarter of a mile away. Watching my footing on the uneven ground, something caught my attention. I looked up and a mature Bald Eagle was heading straight for me. Startled, I raised my hand in protection but the seemingly huge bird soared over me by maybe thirty feet. Relieved, I watched it gain altitude and it turned behind me and headed off to some cottonwoods lining the river bank. It was then that I saw the new nest. A new pair of Eagles had made a home right above my favorite fishing hole. I circled away from the nest after taking a picture with my little "fishing camera" and settled down on the bank to rest and see what was going on. This is the moment when a trout fisherman takes stock. Are there any hatches going on? Are the fishing rising? What kind of rises? How clear is the water after the recent rains? Actually what caught my attention was a large number of small birds, mostly warblers, flitting among the shrubs and trees on the opposite bank. I strained to identify them, but they were just a little too far away. I couldn’t see the details. Where were my binoculars when I really needed them??? A flyfisherman carries all his stuff with him. Pants pockets and a vest are filled with a myriad of vital items to meet all contingencies, ranging from hooks, flies, and Vaselene floatant to tippets and a snakebite kit. No room for birding field guides and binoculars though. Darn!!! It was some time before I noticed the trout rising upstream below a riffle in the river. Looking downstream the eagle pair were looking quite settled and domestic. One stood guard, the other on the nest. Perhaps they had finished their fishing for the day. Time for me to start......

Monday, March 22, 2021

A short preface to even shorter poem

I was too young to understand the depth and breadth of poetry when my high school English teachers tried to interest me in it it took adulthood and the loss of my mom and my wife to Alzheimer's and my son Ted bipolar and my youngest son Tony to suffer from grand mal seizures as I have written here several times my new and profound love of poetry was engendered by two English teachers one of home I married till death did us part and the other a soulmate who helped me enormously be a better teacher more recently I talked to my Spring Valley ladies book club into a let's all read our favorite poems to each other at our next outside meeting in April. Also there was an Ojibwe prayer Paul taken from adult coloring book of the painted ponies which was an influence that had been gifted to me when I was sent rehab for another knee replacement. The gift or was a former student and friend Cheryl Boyd finally, in my home I wrote my first Paul after watching TV one morning as the Confederate terrorists attacked our national capital. I cried for my country that they and also my two black grandchildren. There was that day in my mind the possibility of a lost democracy and the future president who could be another deranged egomaniac it was all a reminder that someday we or a future generation might have a choice between blaming the other hate. My thought to write a Paul was inspired by America's very young poet laureate who recited a Paul during the recent inauguration. I had promised them a call for a friend who lives too far away he slipped his hand into hers and felt the comfort of her response bias squeeze he thought the world is a beautiful and terrible place, deeds of horror are committed every moment and in the end those we love die, if all the screams of all Earth's living creatures were one pain it would surely shake the stars but we have love it may seem frail defense against the horrors of the world but we must hold fast and believe in it but it is all we have.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Birding v. Trouting

No decision is actually needed in this case. Trout season doesn't open for a little more than a week. Still, I've been thinking "deep thoughts" about both hobbies. They are very similar actually. To be successful you need to be very observant. Close to nature works best. The best trout fishing is invariably away from the crowd. Birding too. In often the most beautiful of places. Crowds of people might work once in a while for birding but I suspect solitary or with one other person is also the best just like troutfishing. You need to be quiet. They both require a type of stalking. Trout fishermen are often accused of being the "elitist" types. When the sport was invented in England that was probably true. Trout streams were the private property of the landed aristocracy. Birders sometime's get charged with incipient "dweeb or geekism."
It's easy enough to get involved in the minutia of either sport. Should I get technical about hatches and gear or binoculars and minute differences in color? Tell how to "read the water" or recognize bird songs. The point is that the birder or the trout fisherman is out and about amongst nature. What could be better than that?
Then there are the stories that come with each hobby. Like the time I caught a bat who was attracted to my homemade fly. Or the time I was trapped against a cliff in Yellowstone while two testosterone crazed elk had it out right in front of me. Or the time that Tony and I were hiking,flyrod in hand, up a steep trail in the Bitterroots and came upon my first and only Great Grey Owl, who was drowsing on a branch of a Ponderosa Pine right above our heads.
The tendency and the need to place close attention to things and the time to contemplate about them is why trout fishing has produced the only real "literature" in the fishing genre. I mean, what are you going write about thats really interesting with a $70,000 dollar bass boat, 3 guys on a polluted river and 2 cases of beer?
What is truly appealing about both of these sports? 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 of which I've always liked. Although it's about trout fishing I think it easily applies to birding as well.
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. -John Voelker (Robert Traver)