Thursday, January 5, 2012

Getting Through the Winter: Bibliotherapy

I feel all at loose ends. This is the time, deep into winter, holidays over, that I really miss the cleansing and renewal that come with fishing on a regular basis. The river has been iced up pretty good for the last few weeks, though a recent warm spell has opened things up. On my way to work today I saw two guys in a boat working a run. So there's a chance I could get there soon and see what's up. (Word on the street is that there isn't much up at the moment.)

I also have this idea that I could hop in the truck some morning and run down to Rocky Ford Creek, a spring creek open all year. I've caught some very nice fish out of there, but it has been three years at least since the last time I plied those waters. It has strong appeal right now. I appreciate fishing a river right in my own back yard, but, then again--it's in my own back yard. Rocky Ford would be a day away out in the middle of nowhere--and the Rainbows are there, and they're big.

I just have to find that window of opportunity. It seems harder to do in the winter when regular fishing trips aren't built into the weekly routine.

Meanwhile, there are distractions and vicarious experience. For me, at this time of year, that means books. Yesterday the boys and I crossed the pass to Spokane. On the way back we stopped at a little surplus/thrift store in Chewelah. It's one of those fun places that has all kinds of military surplus stuff (some great packs that I didn't get), old fishing rods and reels (no fly rods or reels yesterday), used knives of every description, and everything else under the sun. Including books.

I was disappointed at first, but then I found this lying flat on the shelf under a couple of other books.

I don't own any books by Schwiebert, so, at a buck and a half, I couldn't pass it up. This is the first of a series of paperbacks designed to make the material in Trout, his three-volume magnus opus, more accessible to the masses. I started it today, and for a big man who wore funny hats and knew everything there is to know about trout and fishing for trout, he is a surprisingly lyrical writer.

Ernest Schwiebert on the Henry's Fork during a blizzard hatch of caddis, 197?.
From Spring Creeks, by Mike Lawson.

This is the second paragraph of the first chapter, The Ancient Art of the Wet Fly:

          "The wet-fly was common on the Michigan rivers in those days. It was the method for teaching a boy about trout, and it is still perhaps the best manner in which to start fly fishing. It was my introduction to trout water and trout problems. There were strangely peaceful tree-frog summers in those first years of the Second World War, with twilight whippoorwills and swamp-peepers. Those summers were spent on the beautiful, smooth-flowing rivers of lower Michigan, thousands of miles from the fighting. Both their swift gravel-bottom riffles, and the shy trout lying in their tangled deadfalls, first taught me about the wet-fly method."

Makes me want to tie up some wets to take to Rocky Ford.

I'm going to enjoy reading this book, and I expect I'll learn a thing or two. And each time I can open its pages it will be an armchair trip into the world of trout and trout fishing. (Don't worry, I'll fit it in with my reading of Moby Dick--and Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove trilogy, and a few books from Patrick O'Bryan's Aubrey/Maturin series.)

That will keep me going between fishing trips and until the long winter finally breaks into a peaceful tree-frog summer.


  1. What an awesome find! And I love your coined term "Bibliotherapy"...

  2. e.m.b.: I'm liking it. And, yes, what a great term. But it's not original with me; I heard it from someone once somewhere, but I took it in as part of my reality.

  3. Damn...lyrical to say the least. That's when you know it has seeped into the core.Wow...I'm stunned.

  4. Herringbone: Yes. As I get a little farther into the book, he's very technical and even scientific, but it's clear he's writing about something he loves. Nice combination.

  5. Cool Jim... I know of his stature. but you finding this ,in this way, is pretty interesting...