Monday, August 23, 2010

The Sportsman's Kiss

What I know about fly fishing would fit on the back of a dipteran. Better to ask Bob, Fern Forest Treehouse guest from Montana. Bob and his wife Rachel are producer, director and editor of a fly fishing show on the Sportsmans Channel. Some of the shows feature celebrities traveling the world to fish with host and show creator John Barrett. Imagine fishing with Liam Neeson, Michael Keaton, Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall and Bode Miller.

Bode Miller on water? I thought he was strictly a snow guy.

The only thing I know about fishing comes from my brother Ron, an avid bass fisherman. That’s a much different sport. Seems to me it’s as much about the equipment—the fast boat, the big SUV to pull it, fish finder and lures and expensive accoutrements—and it’s about the competition. There’s big money to be had for pulling in the biggest bass or the most bass or the cutest bass—something like that.

H’s best friend Alex fly fishes Vermont streams. It’s just Alex and a rod and fly and a stream and the fish. He catches and releases. We have to believe him when he says he caught a twelve-pounder. It doesn’t matter. For him fishing is about solitude and nature and finding peace.

Bob is also coordinating producer for Canon Photo Safari and has been to some of the most picturesque locations in the world, including Costa Rica, Antarctica, Ecuador, Alaska, Thailand, Africa, and the Brazilian Amazon. The hosts are world renown wildlife photographers and the guests are—you guessed it—celebrity amateur photogs. Imagine an elephant asking for an autograph.

Rachel directs some of the outdoor shows from a helicopter. Once the copter got too near a mountain, and the tail rotor hit rock and took a nose dive. The pilot managed to maneuver the damaged vessel to the only plot of sand, and all was well, fortunately. That was several years ago, and Rachel says she still hasn’t told her mother about it. So please don’t provide her with a link to this blog.

When they’re not on work adventures, this couple lives in Missoula, Montana, which is rough enough. Bob has spotted wolf, bear, mountain lion and a grizzly in the wilds of the Northwest. He grew up on the east coast about an hour north of New York City, but since he was a boy he dreamed of living in Montana. He went to college at University of Nevada-Las Vegas—could that by any chance be a party school?—and afterward took a job managing a hotel. One weekend a hot young woman came to the hotel with some friends and fireworks went off. Her name was Rachel, and she worked for an outdoor TV show on the Sportsmans Channel. After twenty years of marriage, the rest is history.

Things were pretty tame the two days they spent at Fern Forest. Bob had twisted his ankle hiking Camels Hump and by evening was ready to put his feet up. We drank some wine. They had a soak in the spa. They ate at the Bobcat Café. They went to bed early. They slept in the next day.

After breakfast they hung around and talked. They like to talk. Then they stopped by the Gales’ house, our neighbors who sugar, and bought some maple syrup. Neighbor Jodi says they lingered and talked some more. I guess by now they’re back in the land of grizzlies and wolves and mountain lions. And, of course, fish.

This seems as good a time as any to put forth my poem about fishing. It’s about all I know regarding angling, if that’s what you call it.

The Kiss

Motoring the Chris-Craft on Lake Champlain

we saw a line of thirty geese winging south.

They have internal clocks, and when the alarm goes off,

off they go. We putted into Mallets Bay and counted bass boats

buzzing by, thick as swarms of bees. Evinrudes churning,

noses of the sleek torpedoes lifted like low-flying birds.

A hundred fifty of the best fishermen in the world

fishing for supper money, fishing for fish

they don’t eat. A hundred fifty men

and not a woman among them.

Why don’t women fish? I think

it’s because the boats are out all day

and because it’s hard to hang the butt

over the bow to pee. Men have the advantage there.

I’ve seen men on the fishing channel kiss the bass

before they throw it back. I could love a man who kisses

fish, but could he love me after he’s seen

my white ass hanging over the side

of a sixty-thousand-dollar dreamboat?

It's not a pretty thought.

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