Dream Stream: A Brautigan Inspired Piece

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).

dream stream

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.

9 Comments on Dream Stream: A Brautigan Inspired Piece

  1. Anthony,

    Very well-written. And so true about that moment just before fishing sometimes being the best part. I love anticipation and the hope of what can be. As long as I keep those hopes somewhat tempered, those tiny fish just confirm that my hopes are really just that.

    -scott c

  2. Scott,

    Good to hear from you. I didn’t realize when I started writing that it was going to be about hope. And maybe I didn’t really realize it until you I read your comment. But sometimes hope is all we’re left with isn’t? (not to be too dramatic).

    Well, there is a new year ahead of us – mine is filled with dreams of big fish (and small ones too), endless riffles, blizzard hatches, fish that are mistaken for snags, snags that are mistaken for fish…

  3. I have no idea why your website hasn’t been in my RSS reader feeds (I would’ve been a more frequent commenter). That’s been taken care of.

    Hope is one of my favorite themes (maybe more to convince myself than anything else?). I’ve done a couple of posts on my website about fishing and hope.

    I also enjoyed the many similes/metaphors in this post.

    (I hope I didn’t double/triple post this)

  4. I’m guessing you have some sort of “timer” that doesn’t like it when I post comments too close to each other so assumes it’s spam. Maybe the same will happen to this one?

  5. Very nice report. I’ve been there, on streams here in NY.

    • Randy – good to hear from you. Thanks for the comment – I’m flattered to get a comment from a real writer (not just a hack like myself). It’s always nice to get comments from new folks too. I was checking out your website and I’m intrigued by your book. It is going on the wishlist.

  6. Anthony,
    You are a real writer, every bit as much as I am. Thanks for your interest in my book. I should tell you, however, it’s a “heavy” book, and as one reviewer said, “It’s not for everyone.”
    Keep the blogs coming.

what say you?