The Mad Fishicist

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

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Location: Alaska, United States

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Of God and Winter

The breath of God produces ice, and the broad waters become frozen.
Job 37:10
We worry, wonder, and whine about winter. We get depressed. We think we need to go fishing, to see the sun, to wear sandals.

Then the sun crests the mountain for the first time in months.

We step outside. We see peaks in every direction.

The clarity is striking.

We don't survive here. We don't exist here. We don't wait for summer here.

We have a gift. We have breathed the breath of God.

We live here.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Not Your Typical College Dorm Room Bull

"...I wished to see a moose near at hand...."
-Henry David Thoreau, The Maine Woods

Each of us had something the other wanted. Over the course of a winter, I gave him stale bread, ramen noodles, pancakes, and potatoes. He gave me moments like this.

Photo by Jackye Stephens

Friday, January 26, 2007

Catch and Release, Reason #511

"It was only a fish when he reached it, but ah, such a fish it was!"
-Frederick Buechner, Godric

I scooped this coho salmon fry out of a puddle on the Lowe River floodplain then released him into a side channel under some overhanging willows. Seemed safe there. The anadromous life is never easy, but I thought drying up with a rain puddle seemed particularly cruel.

That was three summers ago. I've seen this picture dozens of times since then, and I always wonder if he made it to the sea.

Maybe he survived his tour of the Pacific Rim. If so, he'll be back in August.

Maybe he'll show his appreciation by tagging one of my flies.

When he does, he will become the most satisfying meal of my life.

TMF's 100th post.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

River Winter

"...a river, suffering because reflections of clouds and trees are not clouds and trees."
-Czeslaw Milosz, Esse

The water's slower now; it's thicker. Maybe the river is saving its strength for Spring when it can host bears and birds and men and the fish they want and need.

Or maybe it's enjoying the solitude of a silent sunrise at 10AM. Of a lone eagle watching for one more salmon carcass to run aground. Of a moose that has long since given up the search for willow buds and is stripping bark from the young cottonwoods along the bank. Of the last merganser family finally heading oceanward to meet the river at its terminus--or its source. Of the blue and crystalline glow from the snow under a full moon. Maybe the river is slower now because longer days mean shorter dances with the Aurora.

We drink from waters we do not understand.

Spring will come, but Winter is good.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Winter's Antidote

"The fisherman in his boat, far out beyond the headland,
Listens, and leisurely rows ashore..."
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Bells of Lynn

I have shoveled enough snow. I have chopped enough wood. Spring breakup is still a long way off, but I want to be ready. Building this raft has thawed my brain. Planning the first float trip has warmed my imagination with fish migrations, river maps, flow charts, put ins, take outs, and portages.

Rapids will be shot.

Fish will be caught.

Forget the shoreline.

When the waters start to move again, I will be upon them.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Love's Extended Metaphor

"Beauty like hers is genius."
-Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Genius in Beauty

She climbs mountains like I fish. The climb is her cast and presentation; the summit is her quarry. Her descent releases the mountaintop back to the mountain.

The difference is that the river is never more beautiful because I fished it.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

With apologies to Mr. Burns

The trout in yonder wimpling burn
That glides, a silver dart,
And, safe beneath the shady thorn,
Defies the angler’s art...
-Robert Burns, Now Spring Has Clad

But proper cadence of the hook
Through weeds from deep to beach,
The trout takes leave of shady nook
For my egg sucking leech.
-The Mad Fishicist, The Angler's Reply

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Blessing For Sophia

Fishes and tales
And a fisherman's daughter
Walks in the rain,
She walks to the water
To the sea.
-Daniel Lanois, Fisherman's Daughter

May you always know banks and shores, still and flowing waters, sandbars and sloughs, marshes, ponds, and oxbows, tides and eddies, creeks, brooks, seas, springs, streams, rivers, riffles, rapids, oceans, lakes, falls, pools, holes, and drifts.

May you live life abundantly knee deep in living waters, and leave your mark on every path you choose.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year Haiku

What fish feel,
birds feel, I don't know--
the year ending.
-Basho, 1687

Trout rise like the sun
to hand tied flies. I rise like trout
to the new year.
-The Mad Fishicist, 2007

Happy New Year. Thanks for reading.

Feel free to submit your New Year Haiku to the comments section of this post. Might be fun.