December 22nd, 1997
The following is my holiday gift to you. Orginally produced as a signed, limited edition in Old English lettering, you may feel free to print it out on a
nice grade of legal size parchment paper, and frame it for your den or tying
corner. There are still a few originals around, so if you enjoy the story as
much as I, let me know and I can get you the information on how to get
one. Keep the faith - JC
Till next week, remember ...
"A fine day it is, Fisher."
"It is, Mentor, it truly is."
"See across there, Fisher, how the trout takes the tiny fly from
the surface so gently."
"Let me sit here beside you Mentor, so that I may observe
"Yes, Fisher; please join me here on this log and keen thy
senses to the brook before us, and the melodrama unfolding."
"Mentor, why do we sit so? Why do we not apply our talents to
the task at hand? Tell me why, after so long a journey, you and I
are constrained to this site. Why we are not about the business at
foot. The wily adversary awaits and frolics merrily before our very
eyes. Why do we abide ?"
"Fisher? Do you observe the accuracy of the rise? I mean the
exact angle at which the trout does approach the surface? The
same angle, time after time, at which he intercepts the quarry? Do
you watch intently as he opens his mouth and as the stream flows
down through his gills, with it drops his quest? Never changing;
never altering his learned and proven technique. Do you, Fisher,
strive to know him? To know the deep inside feelings and thoughts
that propel him to shun experimentation; and yet stop him from
making movements that would be physically inefficient? Why does
he consistently do so, Fisher?"
"Mentor, why do you tantalize me so? As we sit here on this
fine morning the gentle breeze does bend the willow and betray to
the trout below the insect which has been harbored there upon. I
watch as one following another drifts to the whimsy of the gently
moving surface, only to be consumed in its very act of being born?"
"Tell me, Fisher, why do you prattle on so? There exists before
us a scenario such as most mortals are unaware. Most would be ill
equipped to comprehend; yet you Fisher, why do you fall victim to
the commonest of all temptations?"
"Prey explain, my venerable Mentor, wherein my loss occurs?
Do I not perceive that the trout do rise about us in seemingly
reckless abandon? Do I not appreciate the minutiae upon which he
does take his pleasure? Am I not equally a sportsman with no
intent to do him harm, other than perhaps tiring him a bit before
his return to the brook? Have not we come this day to take our
sport with these fine fish?"
"My worthy young accomplice, I would rather ask, what is it in
you that overcomes your finer instincts and blinds the whole of
yourself; only to admit the narrow channel of instant gratification
to arise? Why, tell me if you would, do you engage in this genteel
"How is it, my wise Mentor, that these many seasons past you
have imbued me with the knowledge of the prey and the preyor?
The line and pole and winch? Why have you, indeed, spent the long
hour at the tying table and the stream side if not to equip me with
that which you wished to bestow? Have I not been a prudent
student? Have I not listened to your sage words about the habits
and habitats, about the rise, the take, the turn, and the return? "
"You ask me now why it is I do this? It is a subject which we
never addressed. It is a question, for although I feel appropriately
prepared, I am floundering for an answer. I would have thought
that mine was to come, to cast, to catch, to capture and to
continue. To count the rises, the releases, the returns; the contest
to be scored by numbers, and sizes too. Yet when you ask me so I
feel inferior to my own intellect. I feel I don't belong here in the
presence of a picture which I am obviously unprepared to
appreciate, let alone participate."
"Mentor, tell me if you will, why it is that I do this? I thought I
knew, but in my thinking, I realize now that I thought not. Not at
all about that which I am about to do."
"My young Fisher, the reasons for which you do what it is you
do are only inside of you. To see and know how the insect hatches
from its egg, to live in its watery home, to fight the currents, to
avoid its captors, to forsake the safety of its home and rise
triumphantly to the shimmering surface above, to escape the
confines of its grotesque, engulfing shell and burst full blown upon
the other side of its world; to sail off to wild new adventures as the
fluid of life fills its wings. Its only mission, to fly, to find a mate, to
And yet another scene is to develop. For as we watch a trout
has his own survival in mind and the insect would play a significant
roll in this.
For it is a watery dinner table in which the trout does live.
Constantly moving, twisting, whirling about; bringing dinner from in
front and death from above. Ever watchful need he be lest he fall
prey of his own undoing. As oft as he has observed and indeed
captured his food had he made even one mistake it could have
perhaps proved fatal. To take his existence easily as it presented
it'self in front of him is always his first choice. To rise to the edge
of the vision-hole above him has never been totally satisfying. The
risk of being observed from above was constantly present; and yet
the quarry was different, better, something inside his soul pulled
him to attempt the triangulation and the rise. Observe, there he
does rise. Tilting at precisely the exact angle to intercept the
fledgling morsel adrift upon the fluid edge of his world.
Listen to me now, Fisher. Have you yet noticed how when the
flies of may do have their mating dance they always fly in the
direction from which comes the current? Have you, perchance,
seen but not really observed? Think, now Fisher. Why is it?"
"Mentor, I have seen, and you are truly correct. I have not
fairly observed. They do fly against the flow, but why?"
"It may not have always been so, but the ones that did not do
thus did not remain here. They ended up down stream. The flies
with an inclination to fly against the current deposited their
offspring above this point and in the turning of time they emerged
here for us to observe. A cycle of sorts. And so it is, Fisher that the
insects have their own world, their own cycle, their own life, and
times, and troubles. As do the trout.
You and I sit here about to disrupt the events. We will, perhaps
in our wading disturb and send tumbling about tiny and ungrown
life to the whimsy of the stream. The possibility exists that we will
even kill some. As for the trout, what will be his fate? If he should
rise and at the ever last instant realize his mistake and turn about,
will he not remember the occasion? Will this not change him? Are
we not all a product of our environment and it's experiences? What
if he does not turn in time? Then what, Fisher?"
"Oh, Mentor, I fear that we, rather I, will have done a great
injustice to the fish. To fight him violently, to have his mind to
explode in terror as he is dragged about for my pleasure. To cause
him to undergo great physical exertion and even to die an
agonizing death of suffocation out of his normal element. This is a
terrible thing I do! We, you and I, must do this no more. Are we
not compassionate gentlemen? Are we barbarians? No, less than
that. Are we not worthy to even sit here and enjoy the marvel
which we observe? Tell me, my Mentor, why we do not cease this
"My dear Fisher, in the great scheme of life there is gain and
loss. There is pain and pleasure. There is winning and there is
losing. That it troubles you is a sign that the mantle of adulthood is
settling about your shoulders. With age and learning comes
wisdom. With wisdom comes an appreciation of the environment
which does include both the flora and the fauna. Be not hasty to
embrace every new thought in it's entirety. Rather evaluate and
merge your ideas that you may come to a true understanding of
yourself. With that understanding comes character. Fly fishing for
trout does that.
"Come, son, it is time for us to enjoy the life which has been
spread before us. See there, a rise!" ~ JC