Friday, December 30, 2011

Better Light

Have a good time and catch lots of fish.
Oh, we’ll have a good time, but if we catch anything I’ll be damned surprised.

A man out walking one night came upon another on his hands and knees under a street light. 
“What are you doing?” the walker asked. “I’m looking for my watch” came the reply. 
 “Let me help. Where did you drop it?” 
 “I dropped it over in that field.” 
 “Over there? Then why on earth are you looking for it here?” 
 “Because the light’s better, stupid.”

The last outing of 2011. An afternoon spent on the local reservoir with my poker buddy, Dan. I don’t fish lakes much, even though this one is but four miles from the house. Too much water. Too many places for fish to hide. Oh, and no boat. Give me a stream to wade, thank you very much. But his Sea Pro needed to stretch its legs and we had a fine Carolina day to give it its desire – and ours.

Dan’s thoughts were to do some jigging. Find some deep channels – 40, maybe 45 feet of water – and drop some weight in and wait to see if anything wanders by. It is, after all, winter.

But, for a fly fisherman, sitting and watching a jig is torture, even with a beer at your elbow. You want to do something. Fortunately, Dan’s a high-energy guy as well so we cruised the points – I pitching a white and grey clouser on a 350 grain sinking line with my 8wt and he throwing a spinning rod and small gold spoon.

Catch anything? Of course not. The fish were all sitting deep, in the channels, hunkered down for winter. Waiting for jigs. We had no chance fishing the points.

But the light was better.

Did you catch anything?
'Fraid not.
Did you have fun?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Life's an Open Bookshelf - Part One

There's something about the approach of a new year that sets a man to thinking - sets him to looking back over the year past and forward to the year ahead - to where he's been and where he's going. And to put each of them into proper perspective, past and future, he need also assess where, and what, he is today. It's not always an easy thing to do. Fortunately, this year I have my bookshelves.

You can lean a lot about someone by looking at the contents of their bookshelves. And it’s not just the book titles, though they are important clues, but it’s the mementos and pieces that a person chooses to place in constant sight that bear the inklings of identity. And my inklings are fresh. Our new abode is appointed with a space I can call my own – a man cave, if you will, though I dislike the term – and its pair of bookshelves - more display space than library - are newly populated. They're still neat. What do their contents reflect?

Indulge me.

The stuff on top takes me back. The Fender acoustic was given to me many years ago by my then best friend, now my wife, and still my best friend. I'd put the axe down years before but always admired the instrument, and she knew it. The gift awakened my interest and confirmed how much she understood me. Scary.

The photo, of course, is of Mr. Jimi and is particularly relevant in that it was captured on April 11th, 1969 at Dorton Arena in Raleigh, NC. Relevant, you see, because I could have taken it. I was that close. Fourteen years old, first rock concert, third row, stage right, blown away. Nothing like starting at the top. The print was a Christmas gift from my stepsons who share my love of music and, despite his being years before their time, also appreciate the Voodoo Child. How could they not?

The top shelves are "display" shelving and the right holds a vintage Time-Life Series book on the camera. It seems to me that there's a bit of obtuse circular logic about pictures of cameras, but that's for another time. The book's images are fascinating and its photographic advice - though predating the digital revolution and in-camera metering by decades - is what separates the point-and-shooters from real photographers. Just because the camera's smart, it doesn't mean you should let it do all the thinking. 

The plaque is a new acquisition - a memento from this year's high school squad. You'd have to look close, but the next-to-the-bottom-line reads 2011 NC 4A State Champions

'nough said.

On the other side is some very special literature. Calvin and Hobbes. The pages are dogeared from hours spent sharing with my two young sons, some thirty years ago. There are cartoons in these books that, even today, make me laugh 'till I cry and there are memories saturating the faded pages that make me cry 'till I laugh. In Calvin I saw each of my boys and in Hobbs I saw myself. Still do. No one has captured the raw energy and creativity of a young manchild any better.

Well, I see that getting through these bookshelves is going to take a while. So, with your permission, I'll stop here and return to it in future posts. One must do something during the cold winter months. I hope you don't mind the glimpse into what makes Mike tick.

And before I return, take a look at the bookshelves of your life. Appreciate what you find. Decide what they say about you - where you've been, where you're going, what you are. 

Let that self knowledge lead you into a Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Photo Bin - December 2011

We traveled, this past week, to Mary's roots in the heartland of Indiana. Five gray days, outside, but full of warmth and joy indoors with the moms and dads and brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews and cousins and grands of every sort. It's what the holidays are all about.

But for all the merriment inside, my lens was drawn across the wintry fields to the small tableau of structures, visible off our front porch. Farm living, beautifully framed by a majestic stand of hardwoods. Dusky sunset, morning mists, or winter snow - it was a captivating scene in its stark serenity.

As the holidays take you across the country for family, across town for friends, or across the kitchen for another 'nog, may your travels be safe, your heart be light, and the stream of your life be filled with fat and happy trout.

Happy holidays.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Backcountry Journal

If you've yet to discover The Backcountry Journal, I have a tasty holiday treat for you. Ben Smith from the fine blog Arizona Wanderings has created a superb new web outpost featuring original pieces from some of the most interesting and talented folks in the outdoor blogging realm. It's quickly become a must read for me.

And, in a stunning lapse of Ben's editorial judgement, I have been asked to contribute. I'm thrilled to see my short work, The Fine Line, appearing in todays's journal.

"There’s a fine line between adventure and madness. I’ve tiptoed it more times than I’d care to admit, never more so than in the gorge. The gorge, you see, invites you to the edge."

Stop by and read the whole piece as well as all of the fine offerings that precede it. Then, be sure to bookmark The Backcountry Journal for what will surely be your go-to spot for many terrific future outdoor literary and photographic offerings.

Thanks Ben!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

'Twas the Week Before... Yes, Johnny?

Gather 'round boys and girls, it's time for the reading of that beloved Mike's Gone Fishin' Christmas classic, 'Twas the Week Before Christmas. Grab a candy cane, get comfortable, and I hope you enjoy it.

'Twas the week before Christmas and down on the Haw
Not a fish was arisin', the weather was raw.
The water was frigid and brisk was the air,
Too chilly for fishing, but I didn’t care.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Fishing Post

Contrary to recent content, this is still a fishing blog. And if I’m going to call it one, I guess I’d better report such activity now and again. It’s not like I don’t get out – I do, fairly regularly – but not all fishing trips warrant a post. In fact, most don’t, and that’s the beauty of them.

Every trip to the water doesn’t need to be epic.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Iron Aged

I love the textures and tones in weathered old-time farm equipment.