Over an evening campfire at a popular western Idaho
trout reservoir, a few years ago, someone made the
observation that the wife of the late Ted Trueblood,
one of our truly legendary outdoors writers, used to
write most of the Field and Stream columns credited
to her husband. "She was," this literary critic told us,
"A lot more talented than her marriage partner."
Having broke bread with both Ted and Ellen many times,
I was shocked that either could have been party to such
deception. I knew Ellen had been a reporter at the time
the two first became acquainted, and that in the years
just before Ted's death, had been working on a book on
mushrooms (she was an acknowledged authority on the
subject). But I had never even considered she might have
ghost-written some of Ted's work; even during the last
year or two of his life when he was so gravely ill.
When I later became acquainted with the late Peter Barrett
(who had moved to Nampa, Idaho, Ted's home town, in 1988),
also a long time editor and columnist with Field and Stream
magazine (and one of Ted's closest friends), I asked if
the charge had any validity. "Hell," Pete snorted, "Not only
did she not write his columns, she rarely ever read them."
I know the feeling. My wife rarely reads my literary
efforts. On occasion I do ask her to proofread book
manuscripts for typos; But even when she does that
for me, she isn't reading for literary content. While
she may, on rare occasions, pick up mistakes in syntax,
she rarely picks up on the messages I'm trying to get
to my readers.
Let's face it, I write fishing material and my wife is
basically bored with fishing. The closest she has ever
come to enjoying angling was when we used to spend time
each spring fishing Idaho's Snake River for channel
catfish. Even then I think she was more interested in
the "eating" than the "catching."
Vina loves to eat all types of fish. She thinks trout
and salmon are gourmet foods. While I spend a great deal
of time chasing trout, I dislike (most) trout flesh. On a
scale of one to 10, I rate trout as about a one or two
(even though my cardiologist insists I eat salmonid flesh
at least once a week).
We both like bluegill and crappie flesh (eights and
nines)... she more than me. I will admit I do enjoy cod,
snapper, halibut, and most of the salt water bottom fish.
Fish, according to Vina, are meant to be caught and eaten.
On that score, we have a fundamental problem. I believe
most fish are meant to be enjoyed on a rod and reel; then
released to fight another day. It isn't that I dislike
killing fish so much. That's not really a major problem.
The thing is. . .if I kill em, I gotta eat em (a house
rule). It's a whole lot more fun, and less of a hassle,
just to turn them loose.
DEER AND ELK HUNTING WAS ANOTHER MATTER
During the early years of our marriage, I spent more
time hunting than fishing. From the time our September
elk hunts began in the Idaho back country, until the
final day of duck hunting in January, I was busy trying
to fill the family freezer with some type of wild meat.
Vina particularly loved to hunt mule deer. She wasn't a
shooter; never carried a rifle during the hunt. As a
scout my wife was very good at spotting game, and usually
matched me step for step in the back country. After I had
bagged game, she would carry the rifle and the heart and
liver, while I muscled out the animal's carcass. As bonafide
senior citizens, we now marvel at some of the hikes we
routinely made in the name of sport three or four decades ago.
In the mid-60s, I got hooked on float tube fly
fishing and tried to get my wife interested in
this very interesting angling discipline. I even
went so far as to buy her a complete fly fishing
outfit for Christmas one year. Vina was suspicious
of my motives since the outfit I purchased for her
fit a slot in my equipment profile that I had been
talking about filling. Although I tried to teach her
to fly-cast, she quickly lost interest. She traded me
her fly fishing outfit for a night out on the town.
I asked a friend who also had a non-fishing wife,
what I could do to get her interested. He told me
not to even try. "It's a lost cause," he counciled
me. "Just learn to live with the status-quo."
What you should probably do," he added, "is buy a
really nice R.V. and keep her comfortable in the
field. You'll probably get to do a lot more fishing
if Vina goes with you."
While I do make an occasional trip with the guys, most
of the time our R.V. is parked at my favorite fishing
spots. Vina enjoys camp life, our family feline, and
socializes well with other campers while I'm out fishing.
While she continues to proofread my literary efforts
from time to time, she still doesn't "read" them.
Although she is becoming expert at preparing the
many fish dishes I must eat in my diet, she isn't
a bit interested in catching them.
Our 34-foot 5th wheel has become our second home, and
Vina doesn't mind a bit that we usually park it somewhere
near my favorite fishing holes. She's even suggested
that it might be fun to become full-time R.V.ers for
a few years. It could add dozens of prime fishing spots
to my annual angling itinerary.
Boy was my friend right about buying a comfortable R.V.
Marv Taylor's books, Float-Tubing The West,
The Successful Angler's Journal,
More Fragments of the Puzzle, (Volume I) and More
Fragments of the Puzzle, (Volume II) are all available from
Marv. You can reach Marv by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 208-322-5760.