Washington Fly Fishing Forum banner
1 - 20 of 54 Posts

·
Donny, you're out of your element...
Joined
·
4,500 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let's say you had an afternoon to fish with someone, anyone really. Alive or dead. You could fish as you saw fit, float in a drift boat, fish dries, nymph, swing, whatever. It didn't matter if they could fish or not, you, for this day, have a great ability, a guide-like skill to get that person into fish, despite their style. You don't need alcohol to butter them into easy talking or relaxation. They're there to enjoy the fishing and the conversation, and the assumption is that it flows easy and the time is a good one.

Who would it be, how would you want to spend that day?

Me I'd take Martin Luther King Jr. up behind the Christian camp on the upper Yak. We'd walk up from the Ensign Ranch parking lot, all the way up to where the river splits into logjams and un-navigable waters. I'd tell him how one day I'd seen a drift boat float by on that stretch, no-one fishing, with a client under a space blanket, looking very ill. How to this day I regret not having called out if they needed help or not, instead just watched them float by in silence. I'd tell him how I'd walked those unmarked paths many times, and spooked two hunters once, all camouflaged up and who I couldn't help but feel had a bead on me at one point, until that is the browns of my waders and clothes were clearly not mistaken for those of a deer. And then I'd show him the best path to take to the river, off of the mountain, and down into the waters.

See I figure the one thing I might be able to teach him would be how to wade. How to step into water and sense your way around. Where the footing should be safe, the crossing easy. You could use a boat, sure , and cover lots of fish-holding miles, but in a boat the fishing comes down to whether you caught or not and whether or not the guy rowing knew what he was doing. When you wade, there's you and the river. There's no guy taking care of you, lining up the run, fighting the current, keeping you dry. No, we'd wade. Better yet, we'd wet wade so the potential of the river, with its violence and force was all there, the bleached bones of the dead trees and logjams for us to see and avoid all around us. And then we'd work our way downstream.

I'd tell him how we had a lot in common me and MLK. Not that I am black or have suffered from great discrimination or lead vast numbers into civil disobedience. Not that I have spent time in jail or that I have ever been under FBI surveillance or anything like that. Not that I have heard the first-hand tales of families destroyed by lynch mobs, or brutality.

No, the things we share are much more common. For instance he and I were christened with the same name, Michael. I'd want to know why his was changed. We share the same birthday, although mine is some 32 years later than his. Every January 15th, I inevitably think of him and my parents and my brother, who has a birthday on the next day. I'd want to know when he spent time at Boston University, where he lived, because I also went to that same school. I studied in the theological library, the same one he must have used as he wrote his PhD. I studied there because it was quiet and I believed that no cute girls ever go to a theological library to study. I went there so as not to be distracted. I'd ask him if he thought my theory was true, not about cute girls being distractions, that's a no brainer, but about cute girls never settling into a theological library to flirt. I mean who goes to theological libraries but for shut-in loners, right?

I'd tell him they have a statue now in the quadrangle at BU with wrought iron doves flying up into the sky and below, etched in the stone, his lines from a letter from a Birmingham jail:

I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law

And that those words have haunted me ever since I really thought them through. And then I'd tell him, I'd tell MLK that I married my wife in the chapel right in front of that statue and had the photographer take a picture of us there because, well, because as cheesy as this sounds, it's the only statue (excepting maybe the Statue of Liberty and Rodan's The Thinker, and the Freemont troll) that actually means anything to me.

And then I'd tell MLK that my parents, Australians by birth, moved to Memphis, Tennessee when I finished high school. My father took a job in the St Jude Children's Research Hospital. And how, in the summers between college semesters, I'd return to this most miserable of American cities and walk through Beale Street, or down Poplar, to Front Street and see how, with school desegregation, the white people moved out East to Germantown where the schools had no blacks and left the center of the city, the Central District, the old cotton warehouses. Sure they'd still go downtown to eat ribs and wax nostalgic about old Memphis, but their houses of worship were elsewhere.

I'd tell him how I'd also shopped at Schwabs, toured Sun studios, even stood on the tracks and watched the Amtrak train come down from Chicago into a station whose heyday was when he was born. I'd tell him how I'd put my hand in the muddy Mississippi where the Wolf River joined it, and how I'd seen rafts of ice float beneath the DeSoto bridge and how that site is much bigger water than the upper Yak. I'd tell him I never fly-fished it, and never heard of anyone who had, though there's no doubt devotees.

I'd tell him of the tour guides at Graceland and the strip malls that face it and how there were more tourist there from Belgium than from any other place. I'd tell him also that the eternal flame on Elvis Aaron Presley's grave was out one of the times I'd been there. I'd tell him how the kids at St Jude Hospital make you think of those most horrific of fears, of losing your children to something that cannot be beat. And I bet he could say something to that.

I'd tell him how I too, have stood on the balcony of the Civil rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel and looked up into the scrub where the bullet must have come from. I'd say how I'd driven Highway 61 from Memphis to New Orleans, more than once, thinking about Delta blues and civil rights, Bob Dylan and Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Vicksburg and Shiloh, Tupelo and Uncle Tupelo and wondering what I might have become if those ideas and that music had never shown itself to me. If I hadn't thought of those histories and music in the context of cotton fields, levees, plantations, Spanish moss and shotgun shacks, cane poles, ice storms and deep humid summers where the night noise comes from the horns out on the rail yards, out where the Yellow Dog line meets The Southern. I would tell him if I stayed in Australia, a nation of whites who ignores their blacks, I probably would have remained a smug asshole, one of those moderate whites that MLK refers to in his letter from a Birmingham jail. One of the disappointing don't rock the boat majority.

I'd tell him how I went to work in an Aboriginal Health Center in the center of Alice Springs, in the heart of Australia in 1994. And how, at that time, all around us were blacks living in poverty, who were invisible and sick, and without politics or plans. I'd tell him how my old friends in Melbourne or Sydney, now doctors and lawyers, never saw that, barely believed what I told them and changed the subject when I brought it up. I'd tell them how I was still friends with some of them, but for many of them, I had little in common anymore.

I'd tell MLK how I turned 39 this year. The same age he was when he died. I'd tell him something along the lines of how his achievements at his age were far beyond I could ever hoped to have done. And then, after all that ass-kissing I'd probably suggest some ways to mend his fly, or how he'd missed some strikes. My bet would be that MLK could probably outfish me, and even after I had told him all of this stuff about me, I'd learn more from him than he did from me. And that would be our day of fishing, hitting some holes, wading the waters above and behind the Christian camp. Thinking about things that could be better and how to make them that way.
 

·
Active Member
Joined
·
1,411 Posts
I've fished that area along and above the Ensign camp a couple of times Wadin. Nice stretch of water.

Again thank you for sharing your wonderful writings with us.

Oh and HAPPY BIRTHDAY too..:beer1:
 

·
Flyslinger
Joined
·
1,937 Posts
I would choose to fish with John Muir. Because this is fantasy I would want to go back to his young days of activism and have him show me the rivers he loved before the dams. before the growth of population and industry in the wildrness areas. I would have him show me the places that he took the most powerful men in the U.S. so that he could try to get them to protect these treasured places. He tried to convince them to save this beauty,where other men in this powerful company would want something for themselves Muir wanted only to protect the wonder of the land.
We would probably fish he would know the best spots. As if he were the Doctor Doolilttle of fishes he would catch fish on any thing he used. It would seem that the fish would be willing to be caught with a fly cast by the man who was doing so much to protect their habitat. He would carefully cradle the fish enjoying their beauty before he gently released them back into the stream.
We would keep four fish and roast them on green sticks at the campfire that night. It would be enough.
i would ask him if he always wore a shirt and tie when he fished.
I would be different after our adventure.
Blessings
jesse clark
 

·
Livin down by the river, eating gov'ment cheese...
Joined
·
51 Posts
One day to fish with anybody, huh? I guess I'd choose between Hunter S Thompson, Traci Lords, or R Lee Ermey.

It would be lots of fun to get drunk with Hunter, or blow stuff up with R Lee, but lets face it; there isn't a 45 year old man alive who doesn't have Traci seared into his brain.........
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,595 Posts
Wadin' boot:

Awesome post and one of your best! Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your thoughts which convey much hope, reverence, and thankfulness.
What an honor for you to be born on MLK's birthday. Enjoy your celebration tomorrow.

Roger
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,567 Posts
Thanks boot. Very nice.

I am not as good as any of you. I'd fish alone on the Skagit. I never fish to fish with anyone.

I'd party with Theo Epstien though.

GoSox,
cds
 

·
BigDog
Joined
·
3,554 Posts
Beautiful, Boot. I was a youth during the civil rights era and MLK was a hero of mine. His death affected me more than any of the other political assassinations of the 60's. The things he lived, and died, for influenced me in more ways than I can easily explain.

I think if I were there with you and MLK, I'd ask him what he thought of the religion that runs that "Christian Camp," the Church of Jesus Christ the Latter Day Saints, or Mormons, who, when MLK was alive, wouldn't permit blacks to become elders in the church and taught that dark skin was a mark of God that permanently condemned whole races of human beings. Then I'd want his insight into why blacks, at much higher frequency than other racial groups in the US, want to deny civil rights to gays and lesbians.

With his leadership and inspiration, we've come so far, but we still have a long ways to go.

Dick
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
My first posting.............

The thoughts about MLK were thought provoking and beautiful. Thank you.

As for me - I would go fishing with my Dad. I would love the chance to be together again on any stream.

I would love to go with him back to the little spring creek above Randolph, Utah - waking up in the morning so cold that I just wanted to snuggle deep into my bag. Once on the creek he taught me how the trout think, what they eat and how to avoid spooking them.

I would love to go with him back to Salt Creek outside of Nephi, Utah. Those beautiful browns were there for the lucky, the smart and the persistent. Dad was such a patient teacher. I wasn't always the patient student!

I would love to go with him back to 20 Mile river outside of Anchorage. Bright silvers littered the bottom of the feeder streams. We had gone up with guys from my Dad's work. One of them tossed a Snickers wrapper into the icy cold gin clear water. Dave - the man with the boat, pulled off to the side and told the guy that if he ever wanted to go in his boat again, he would jump into the water and retrieve the wrapper. He did. I'll never forget that lesson. I caught my first silver that day. That was just a bonus.

I would love to have one more high tide with him at Eagle Rock on the Kenai. The time spent in that 12 ft. boat will always be with me. The smell, the sights, the sounds, the stories, and of course the fish. It would be nice for him to catch the big one for a change. He was always too busy helping his boys....

I would love to relive our last trip together. We drove up to Alaska and fished whenever we felt the urge. He wasn't very sure on his feet, not too accurate with his casts, and we had an unforgettable time together.

My Dad taught me to love the rivers, the animals, the forest, and to respect and revere the fish. There isn't a time that I go into the woods that I don't think of my Dad.....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,255 Posts
nice piece, for me it would be with my son. Nothing compares. I always thought it would be cool to entertain a daniel boone or davy crockett to a car ride, a good day for them traveling was 20 miles a day in the past .....the idea of having them sit in my car car and do that in 15 minutes as always intrigued me, and then to tell them about the plane. Makes me think what will my children be doing in 30 years...after all, everything seems to be growing exponentially with this world.
 

·
Long Lost Member
Joined
·
20,209 Posts
Excellent post Mr. Boot, as usual, very though provoking. Since this is a fantasy thought I'd fish Kamchatka with my father in law. He is an amazing and energetic man that has fished much of north and south america. I think we would both have a good time on the water and in camp.
 

·
Eyes to the sky...
Joined
·
2,738 Posts
Great stories, people! I'd do the grandfather thing as well. He's gone now. But his philosophies are alive and well. Everything my father did as a dad had Grandpa's fingerprints on it, and so it is with my 2 boys. I had a pretty rocky childhood. Grandpa was always a positive force in my life. He was a lifelong sportsman, but I never really got to see that part of his life. I'd love nothing more than to share a day on a quiet stream with him, thank him, and show him that he was right. Everything would turn out well for me.
This song was always a favorite of his and it was played at his funeral.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Wow I'm really impressed at all your responces. Very interesting read. I've never posted before but thought I'd have a go at it. Personally I can think of a few people - Mike Maxwell, Joan Wulff, my Dad but mostly I'd fish with Eric Clapton. I hear he ties nice flies and is a decent fisherman too.
 
1 - 20 of 54 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top