The Mad Fishicist

A fly rodding, sheep stalking, moose calling, guitar trying, bird watching, fly tying, Katie loving stay-at-home-dad.

My Photo
Location: Alaska, United States

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In the Beginning

"The lightly-jumping, glowrin' trouts,
That thro' my waters play..."
-Robert Burns, The Humble Petition Of Bruar Water

The Hellenists saw her in the nighttime sky and gave her the late winter months. Early Christians adopted her form as a sign of brotherhood. The Hindus called her Matsya. The Celts gave her to Finn McCool to fulfill his destiny. Norsemen crossed her with a girl and made her sing. The Haida Indians of British Columbia crossed her with a boy who became a shaman. A Maori hero called Maui caught her with a great hook and she became New Zealand's north island. The Incas worshipped her so passionately that the Spaniards could only gain converts by replacing Mamacocha's head with the Virgin's.

She crossed time and culture to become my story.

Her shaking registered 2.9 on the Richter scale at a Bristol Bay tsunami warning center.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving Thanks

Place gifts of silver in our hands.
Give us this day
our daily fish.
-Pablo Neruda, Ode to the Sea

Thanks for fish and fishing,
For wool socks and gloves,
For hunting and fishing partners
Like W.L. Gore, A.W. Danner, and C.C. Filson.
For rutting bulls and full curl rams
For mud flats, flood plains, rim rock, and ridge tops,
Headwaters, tributaries, sloughs, and pools.
Thanks for roe and redds
For tin cups of coffee
And Spring migrations, Fall runs,
The light in June,
And the night in Winter.
For alpine lakes and glacial lakes
And phosphorescence in the bay,
For the Aurora and thunder
And the rain that brings the river back to itself.
Thanks for safe passage overland,
For birds in the hand,
Fish for the pan,
And wood for the fire.

Thank you Lord for life, for life, for life
And for giving me
The need to fish
Until my arms can't hold a rod,
To hunt until I cannot see to hunt,
And to walk
Until I reach Your shore.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ars Piscatorius

It's certain there are trout somewhere
And maybe I shall take a trout
but I do not seem to care.
-William Butler Yeats, The Three Beggars

He's not casting to fish but to possibilities. And every cast has a thousand black spots, pink cheeks, and a survival instinct to fly.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Love and Metaphysics

The Bait
John Donne

Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,
With silken lines and silver hooks.

There will the river whisp'ring run
Warm'd by thy eyes, more than the sun ;
And there th' enamour'd fish will stay,
Begging themselves they may betray.

When thou wilt swim in that live bath,
Each fish, which every channel hath,
Will amorously to thee swim,
Gladder to catch thee, than thou him.

If thou, to be so seen, be'st loth,
By sun or moon, thou dark'nest both,
And if myself have leave to see,
I need not their light, having thee.

Let others freeze with angling reeds,
And cut their legs with shells and weeds,
Or treacherously poor fish beset,
With strangling snare, or windowy net.

Let coarse bold hands from slimy nest
The bedded fish in banks out-wrest ;
Or curious traitors, sleeve-silk flies*,
Bewitch poor fishes' wand'ring eyes.

For thee, thou need'st no such deceit,
For thou thyself art thine own bait :
That fish, that is not catch'd thereby,
Alas ! is wiser far than I.

Maybe I love Katie so much because she put me on the hook end of the line. Maybe I love fish because I know how they feel.

At water's edge I find my love for her swelling like a tide that never ebbs.

*Ed. Note: Emphasis added. Fly fishing described in a 17th century love poem. Not bad for a carpe diem Anglican minister in James I's court.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Falcipennis canadensis

"A man who has played much base-ball need never use a gun when after spruce grouse."
-Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter

They aren't fast or dangerous. They don't have sharp beaks or talons. When in danger, they don't release a pungent odor. All they have is camoflauge. Generation after generation knows that to sit still is to survive. I estimate that I walked by thirty of these birds that day, and only five moved.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Thymallus arcticus

I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling...
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Brook

He weighs ten ounces at best, but somehow his rise makes my heart skip like an old 45. His dorsal fin is more a sail than a rudder. He is small but strong. In a month, his Arctic home waters will try to freeze, suffocate, and starve him to death. Maybe he'll survive.

When the sail catches wind, he is a poem etched in flowing glass.
Thanks for the photo, Andrew.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Applying the Scriptures V

He said to me, Son of man, have you seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the bank of the river.

Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then said he to me, These waters issue forth toward the eastern region, and shall go down into the Arabah; and they shall go toward the sea; into the sea shall the waters go which were made to issue forth; and the waters shall be healed.

It shall happen, that every living creature which swarms, in every place where the rivers come, shall live; and there shall be a very great multitude of fish; for these waters are come there, and the waters of the sea shall be healed, and everything shall live wherever the river comes.

It shall happen, that fishermen shall stand by it: from En Gedi even to En Eglaim shall be a place for the spreading of nets; their fish shall be after their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many.

-Ezekiel 47:6-10 (emphasis added)

The waters will be healed. It's a promise. But these fish and these waters have proven something greater: the waters will heal.

It's a promise.