“Truly Gone Fishing”

Recently my son asked, “Where does an old fisherman go when it’s just too cold to fly-fish?” Good question.

Lately, with daytime temperatures peaking near the single-digits (Fahrenheit), it’s a little too cold to be standing in water or falling through the ice. I hadn’t been fishing since December 10th, so this was clearly my longest dry spell of the 2017 season.

Since there’s always something for a pumped-up naturalist to do, especially in a time of holidays and odd traditions, I’m not complaining, really. As my son also noted, there’s an old expression that might have an ironic connection to my current status as a non-fishing angler. “Truly gone fishing.” It can be found in Pink Floyd’s song “The Trial” (from The Wall) and it implies derangement or outrageous behavior. Glad for an excuse to make myself useful, I took a walk down memory lane and, sure enough, there it was:

“… Crazy toys in the attic I am crazy/ Truly gone fishing/ They must have taken my marbles away/ Crazy toys in the attic he is crazy…” Or headed that way.

I’m truly happy that the toys in my attic (mostly books and angling and artsy-fartsy items, by the way) aren’t as burdened emotionally or as self-destructive as Pink’s (now there’s an understatement) but I get the drift. Let’s see what little toys I’ve picked up as gifts (or have stolen figuratively) since this cold holiday season began…

One frozen afternoon I accompanied wife and daughter to the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford, New York. Every visit to this reconstructed village is an inspirational jaunt through early American history, especially in December when it’s only partially open and the crowd of visitors is minimal. I had glanced nostalgically at my fishing haunts along Spring Creek nearby (even there, man, it’s too cold to fish!) but soon got swept up with the period costumes, subject matter, and warmth from ancient fireplaces. No 19th-century fly shops could be visited, but damn, the hot mac & cheese and the home-brewed beer, colonial style, was tasty!

I was celebrating Winter Solstice with a walk out back and an Old Man Winter Ale in hand when I heard the high-pitched and repetitive too notes of the tiny saw-whet owl from somewhere in my grove of pine and spruce and tamarack. I don’t often see or hear this little creature of the night, but its too too too notes rang out loudly for several minutes as I stood there on my path and wondered if I’d had too many sips of Old Man Winter or had too many toys in my attic. Ultimately I decided that my friend the saw-whet owl was just presenting a bird’s good wishes for the new year.                                                                             

Image result for saw whet owlThe family’s traditional “whiskey walk” or Christmas Eve hike with my son and my brother was resumed this year, and it was fun, and cold. My son recently posted his report on our hike into the rollicking depths over on his blog, Bridging the Gap. It’s well worth checking out. We had dinner, spirits, gifts, and a bonfire just before the snow began to fall and Christmas closed in from the skies.

The days weren’t getting any warmer and, with temperature predictions for New Year’s Day predicted to peak at less than 10 degrees F., it looked as though Tim Didas and I could freeze in our six-year tradition of fly-casting on the holiday. Just when things were looking dim, I rediscovered an article in the Summer 2006 issue of Trout magazine about the world’s rarest and most imperiled trout, a wild fish only recently documented, and what a small group of bi-national pros is doing to save this newly examined species and to help indigenous people who live nearby. It was what I needed.

Reading about the rare Rio Conchas trout still dwelling in the Atlantic drainage of Chihuahua, Mexico, and then watching Joseph Temelleri’s 2016 documentary called  Truchas Mexicanas, the Native Trout of Mexico, floored me with inspiration and, if not with hope, then with pride in what our species can do for another when push comes to shove. You don’t need to be an angler to love this nearly one-hour video on You Tube (link is at the bottom). It’s beautiful, from content to production. Anyone who appreciates cultural diversity and the wonders of nature should enjoy it. I’ve viewed the documentary twice and dreamed of visiting the Sierra Madre for adventure… “truly gone fishing.”

The film is like another toy inside my attic. It’s a fine toy but I’m just too old to play with it. Nonetheless, there is pleasure knowing it is there.








About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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24 Responses to “Truly Gone Fishing”

  1. What a great piece! Being a fly-fisher myself, I can relate! Happy New Year!

  2. Leigh says:

    Another great post, my friend. I hope 2017 was good to you and 2018 will be even better. Wish the family the best from me. If you’re going to the VA fly fishing and wine festival in a few weeks, let me know.

    • Hey, thanks Leigh. I hope you and yours have an excellent new year. I doubt that I’ll have a chance to swing down south for that festival, but I’ll bet it will be fun. If you go, I’ll look forward to your post on the occasion!

  3. This is exactly why I love Rivertop Rambles, Walt. Such wonderful memories and history. I loved the video and now have a copy to look at whenever it gets too cold for me to fish! Happy New Year my friend!

    • Thank you, Howard. I’m pleased that you enjoy the element of history that’s presented now and then, as well as the nature-based stuff. And thanks, especially, for being here all along and even for taking the time to watch the video. Pretty cool stuff (actually quite warming at a time like this). Take care, and have a great new blogging year!

  4. Great read that nicely captures the season. It’s been a cold winter so far here and any fishing that’s been happening involves staring at a hole in the ice. I love the thought of drinking a colonial style beer.

  5. plaidcamper says:

    This was another great post, and I’d say your attic is pleasantly cluttered with all the right stuff…
    Looking forward to watching the documentary later this evening, with a glass of something warming close to hand.
    Thanks, Walt, and Happy New Year!

    • Cheers, PC! I think you’ll enjoy the documentary. I don’t know about all that stuff in the attic but I think it pays to take an inventory every once in a while. As always, thanks for your loyalty, and I do wish you guys an awesome New Year!

  6. Bob Stanton says:

    Toys, crazy or no, are what keeps us sane, perhaps somewhat ironically. I know my attic is cluttered! Touching on PF, I was just lecturing a co-worker last night on Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats; they didn’t know who he is. “You know, he played Pink in The Wall movie. Live Aid? Saint Bob?” Also, I enjoyed Brent’s account of the Whiskey Walk, glad you were able to re-establish that tradition this year. It’s become a RR tradition, too.

    • We’re doing what we can, Bob, playing with our toys and trying to stay happy. Glad you are, too. Yeah Geldof was the guy involved with all that. It’s been quite a while since I’ve heard the Boomtown Rats, so I think I’d better get re-acquainted. Be advised, I sure as hell am glad that you continue to ride along the RR train. It wouldn’t be the same without you. Happy New Year, pal.

  7. Brent says:

    High in the low doubles with a stiff breeze on the 1st: I’d say you’ll have truly gone fishing if you truly go fishing! Interesting to know about the Rio Conchos, a lesser-known southern tributary of the Rio Grande. Is the native trout a cutthroat species?

    • Looks like we’ll be truly Gone Cold… As for the Rio Conchos, no, it’s not a cutthroat. Original reports from the area suggested that the trout could be a cutthroat (if so, the range would be the farthest south for any cutthroat ever recorded) but the recent discovery is that the Conchos trout is a species unto itself, and a rare one at that, with estimates of only 300 adults, or so. That’s some pretty rugged territory that it dwells in, but its status is highly imperiled.

  8. Happy New Year Walt.

    Been remiss on leaving comments this year for everybody, but I’m still lurking in the background, reading. Always a pleasure to wind up here.

    • Ken,
      So good to hear from you again! You know, you helped me get my waders straight when I first stepped into the waters of blogging, so to hear from you once again is to feel that the circle is unbroken. Would love to catch up on your progress, blogging and otherwise. My best to you and yours for a happy new year.

  9. Peter says:

    Great piece, thank you and for the links shared.

  10. Casting Across says:

    Bonfires, booze, and bounding through the woods… what a great way to end 2017.

    Happy New Year!

  11. nesethf says:

    Love the Floyd reference. I saw Pink Floyd at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh in ’92 or ’93. An amazing show!

  12. loydtruss says:

    Great post—-Hope the New Year is as productive for you as 17 was.
    Thanks for sharing

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