For years I have studied and read about the art and skill of fishing for trout with dry flies. I have read beautiful artful books on the subject. Some of the best outdoor writing ever put on paper is about the ancient art of fishing with flies.
I have read Robert Traver, John Gierhach, Jerry Dennis, Jimmy Carter, Norman McClean and Michigan’s own native Ernest Hemingway. I have gazed long beside the winter fire on books with vivid watercolor of streams and leaping fish and fly-roads bent and fisherman poised to fight and to land trout. I have read books of theology, philosophy, humor, fiction, pastoral practice, history, memoir and travel journals all on fly-fishing themes. I have read books on fly-fishing by pastors and presidents, rouges and ruffians. I have read on fishing written with technical detail and other books written with humor that runs the spectrum from crude to sophisticated.
Many of these books are richly illustrated with beautiful watercolor renderings of rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, salmon and steelhead. Some of them are illustrated simply with line drawings or woodcuts. Most of them are illustrated with fly-patterns and insect imitations some of which have been used for centuries by fly fishermen from around the world.
I have been on the stream in the morning just as the sun came over the rim of the earth
I have been in the cool water fishing a caddis hatch while the moon rose and the sun set on a summer night.
I have fished from a canoe on Wolf Lake in the Western Upper Peninsula
A couple times I have even stooped to fish for sunfish with Wollybugers on a northern lake from a paddle boat.
But mostly I have waded the waters of the Muskegon, the White, the Pine, the Pere Marquette and the AuSable.
I have a fine fly rod
I have a first-class reel
I have fly-line, leader and tippit material designed to deceive illusive fish
I have a vest full of fishing gizmos, gadgets and do-dads
I have boxes of time-tested flies guaranteed to deceive wary trout into my creel
I have a lanyard
I have snippers
I have floatant
I have a little line cleaner
I have strike indicators
I have waders. Neoprene waders. They are great in cold trout streams
I have a shelf full of fishing books
I have hemostat tool a little like pliers to release fish that I catch
I even think I have some video tapes somewhere of Glenn Blackwoods adventures on the stream
I know some of the men at Great Lakes Fly-fishing Company on a first name basis. They have regaled me with runes and about fishing from their travels all over the country.
I have written some essays about my past fishing experiences
You are looking at a man who has the experience, knowledge, skill, information, equipment, the connections the support and the opportunity to be a first-class trout fisherman. I could write books of my own. I have everything I need… except one thing.
I don’t have a fishing license and I don’t have a trout stamp. I haven’t had one in three years. My life has taken a busy turn and I have moved away from familiar waters and even though I have longing well up in my heart and sweet fishing memories torment my soul, I don’t have a license and I have not been fishing for three years.
In my travels around the state to speak I have passed over some of the finest trout fishing streams in North America. Sometimes I slow the car and watch anglers wading the rivers and I have an inner pang at the sight. I dream about summer evenings with my boys on the water. I imagine a set of beautifully framed and tastefully matted photos on the wall of my study. In each one of the photos one of the boys poses smiling with trout he caught on a fly he tied, but I have never made the fantasy a reality.
Now you know a little more about fly-fishing and you know a little more about me. You should be qualified to answer a question. So, you answer a question for me. Am I a fisherman?
A disciple of Jesus is an obedient follower of Jesus, one who keep the commands of Christ. A person could have a life full of Christian things, Christian talk, Christian books, films, music and Christian activity and not really be a true disciple if he is not walking the commands of Christ. Jesus said; “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” So if you are not a fisher of men are you really a follower of Jesus?
Riverfront Character Inn
January 31, 2005