Well – reading Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan has inspired me (see review in previous post Here). The hard thing about any creative pursuit is the idea that you must press forward, onward into new territory. If you want to be taken seriously then you need to come up with something of your own – to merely be a good writer, painter, photographer, etc. is not good enough – you need to find a new way to express the human condition.
Luckily for me I don’t need to be taken seriously – so I can unabashedly emulate (without even being ironic). Richard Brautigan invented a perfectly good wheel – and I’m going to use attempt to use it to get where I want to go (maybe not very successfully). So please indulge me with a flight of fancy as I explore my inner Trout Fishing in America with a Brautiganesque Fishing Report from this past summer (2009).
The Dream Stream: South Platte River below Spinney Reservoir, Colorado
August 14, 2009
We arrive at the parking lot. We are two men full of trout. Skulls like aquariums – fish looking out onto dry land through our eyes. There are some other anglers there in the parking lot. They squint and lean on their trucks like empty beer cans. I don’t ask how the fishing is because beer cans don’t usually talk – and when they do it’s garbage that you don’t want to hear.
We put on our waders, sort through fly-boxes and string up the rods. More anglers appear in the parking lot like weeds pushing through the gravel – some are coming, some are going. But nobody’s talking. The sky is blue but with the whispered promise of bad weather. Birds of prey circle and occasionally dive. The mountains in the distance remain judgmental. Maybe it’s just me but I get the feeling that they can tell that I’m not from these parts.
I learned to fly fish in central Pennsylvania. The streams there like to hide themselves discreetly in narrow wooded valleys. This stream was not so shy, she lay among the dry grass out where everyone could see her for miles around, twisting in restless dreams.
Thinking about the way that stream looked now, months later, I reach into my pocket, pull out a bit of string and toss it onto the table top. In memories the streams that I have fished are made up of these bits and pieces from my pockets.
We finally leave the parking lot and walk to the stream. This moment before fishing is the best part. When I come to a new stream – it is not yet written in my book. Everything is possible – the bends, the riffles, the pools are all pregnant mothers. I am an expectant, anxious father full of hope.
As we walk to the stream the sky decides it will rain on us. I don’t have a raincoat with me – so I unfurl the thin plastic rain poncho that I stashed earlier (hoping that I wouldn’t need it). Hopefully nobody will notice that I’m wearing a plastic bag. Maybe it will be good for fishing, maybe the fish will think that I’m just a plastic bag rolling by in the wind.
We stop at the first good looking stretch that we come to. Here the stream curls out of an oxbow, hurries though a shallow riffle and into a deep run. Pretty as a picture, like a trout stream in a catalog. You know the fish are there.
One tiny fish and several hours later we walk back to the car. It turns out that the moment just before fishing was the best part of the trip.