Friday, September 02, 2016

The Solitary Angler

I like to fish alone. I find fishing to be much more enjoyable fishing by myself. After my last fishing partner moved away I decided to devote my river time to myself. My last fishing partner was a great guy to fish with and probably the best I ever had.
In fairness I make no oaths as to what kind of fishing partner I am. Maybe I am a huge pain in the ass! Never heard that from any fishing partner but who knows?
So as I look back on the 43 years I have fished in the states of Oregon and Washington I reminisce about the guys I've partnered up with to chase salmon, steelhead  and trout.
Here are some of the reasons I do fish alone these days.
1.Chronic lateness by fishing partner
2.Selfish "It's all about me" attitude
3.No concept of time and fishing etiquette.
4.Constantly forgetting gear and depending on me to cover for it
5.No regard for my physical disabilities and limitations
6.Constant derisive comments
These are just some of the things that lead me to the conclusion that I am my best fishing partner.
I can come and go as I please. When I come to a spot I don't feel good about I can just move on. If I don't want to stop at some brew pub and wait for hours (literally) for my food to arrive I don't have to.
I derive a lot of pleasure from my fly fishing and I don't like that pleasure lessened by some one else idiosyncrasies. It's sounds selfish I know, but in my senior years it's just the way it has to be.
I once fished with a guy that complained about the previous trips he had been on and the people who, in their generosity, had invited him along...amazing.
I got him into his first really big Chinook. I also got him into a few steelhead. You know what? He bitched about me to someone else and it got back to me so I never wet a line with him again.
Maybe somewhere there is a former fishing partner of mine bitching to someone about me. Well more power to them and maybe they should fish alone as well. There was a time in the distant past where I wouldn't think of fishing by myself! Maybe it was a lack of self confidence or whatever but that changed gradually to the point that it's my preferred way.
Now don't  get me wrong. There are times when a fishing partner comes in mighty handy.
Last summer I found myself stuck in the muck of the Deschutes river up to my waist and could not free myself. I had to yell at passing vehicles going by on the Maupin access road until one finally stopped and dragged my stupid butt out of the mud. I was never in any danger of sinking below the mud but I was indeed stuck fast with night approaching. A fishing partner nearby would have made this an easy fix.
I know my wife would prefer me fishing with someone for my own protection as she often asks where I will be fishing that day. I remark "Why do you want to know? Do you need a place to start looking for my body should I not come home?"
At this stage of my life I can be picky about my fishing time. Long gone are the days of "Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead" philosophy. I would fish with any warm body that would take me fishing, especially when I was just learning.
Who knows? Maybe someday I will once again find the right partner.
As for now I fish alone.

To quote Norman Maclean -

"Of course, now I am too old to be much of a fisherman, and now of course I usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn’t. Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise."

1 comment:

  1. I so agree....solitude on moving waters is just right.