So, here I am lounge-chaired out on the cottage deck gazing out at North Lake Leelanau, shimmering flat with the golden glow of days end. No fishing report here today, at least in the conventional sense; just a snapshot or two of a most pleasant and meaningful journey into the literature of fly fishing—this time with John Gierach and his book, Fools Paradise (Simon & Shuster, 2008).
It’s family vacation time at the Leland cottage, and to my marital credit, nary a fly rod nor reel bag is on the premises. Art shows, sidewalk sales, cafes, swims, walks on Big Blue’s beaches, boat rides, tubing with the grandkids, and books—lots of books.
I’ve read a number of Mr. Gierach’s works; I like his unpretentious, “it’s good enough” approach to life and fly fishing. That the guy can write well seals the deal for me, so much so that today I called my fellow River Quest guide and inveterate fishing companion, Don Graham, to read him the second passage quoted below. For you see, though, I wasn’t fishing, Mr. Gierach’s observations struck so many responsive chords in my personal fly fishing recollections that I simply had to tell Don all about my latest “fishing trip.” Crazy thing is, he says to me. “I have that book and just started reading it. I can really visualize what Mr. Gierach’s words say!” Talk about coincidence or… Karma!
I marked a half dozen or so passages, but here are two that I thought our RiverQuest Fishing Report readers might like:
“But then I never trust people who try to act as if catching a nice big fish is no big deal for a sportsman of their stature. After all, fishing is nothing more than the often successful search for something genuine in a world where we’re increasingly comfortable with things like coffee ‘creamer’ that’s guaranteed to contain no actual diary products. We’re so used to the fake and the packaged that encountering something real can amount to a borderline religious experience.” (p. 115)
And then with a tip of the fly cap to Captain Don and me, the two senior guides of RiverQuest:
“The more common view of the [fly fishing] sport now is that it is, or should be, one big fish-catching spectacle after another, while those odd and delightful opportunities in between are too often referred to as ‘poor fishing.’ But there’s a specific beauty to a well-known trout stream between those big hatches that will attract more fishermen than fish. It’s not showing off for the company now, but just padding around in slippers with a cup of lukewarm coffee, waiting for something interesting to happen.
Of course, A.K. and I [read T.K. and D.G.] will happily rise to the occasion if things unexpectedly start to get exciting, but it’s easy enough to fall back into just being two old friends fishing together, both of whom, through sheer force of time spent, have long since caught their share of trout. That doesn’t mean we’re done by a long shot, only that the pressure is off.” (pp. 124-125)
John Gierach, Fools Paradise: I’m sure Glen Blackwood at Great Lakes Fly Fishing Company would have a copy for you. It’s a “fishing trip” I highly recommend.
Captain Tom Kuieck