by Randal Sumner
Last June I had the honor of attending the Commencement exercises
for the 127th class at the University of Washington, my son and
son in law were graduating. It was great fun to see the pomp and
circumstance unfold, the kids have worked like Dawgs and this was
Unlike my daughter’s graduation two years before the weather was
gorgeous, even a bit hot. Sitting in Husky Stadium I could almost
understand why people want to live in Seattle, almost. The speakers
included the Governor and former Sec. Of State Madeline Albright.
The speeches were pretty typical “ as you stand on the threshold
of tomorrow” fare.
The jist of them seemed to be strive, strive, strive that and
go to other countries and mettle in their affairs. I don’t have
much strive in me, I’m not sure I ever did, but I admire it in other
people. We tend to admire traits in others that we don’t possess,
like neatness or doing math in your head. The great fly fishermen
are not generally conventional strivers, they are interested in
a kind of excellence that no one ever sees, like an artist whose
work you only catch a glimpse of once in a while, you know he’s
painting but the work is hard to find. The guiding business tends
to attract the striving crowd as clients; after all they have the
money to hire a troutbum for a day or two.
See how this is all coming together?
“As we stand on the threshold of the river with all its vast potential
to provide years of serious fun, lets take a moment to reflect on
the high points of our trout bum career.
First, how did we find ourselves with that original urge to stand
in moving water whipping a yard sale fly rod around, maybe it was
a friend or more probably a father that got us started down this
slippery slope. Thanks Dad. The next big moment was when we realized
the real bugs live under water with the fish, who knew? The final
stage was the twenty years of study; the long days, the bad camp
coffee, stale cigars, box wine and reading tons of bad fishing advice.
Yes there were sacrifices, the job, our health, maybe a relationship
or two but all in all, not to steep a price to pay, to travel the
road of self-actualization.”
Now you know why trout bums are never asked to give commencement
addresses and why so few trout fishermen ever graduate to be Trout
bums. I just finished a great book on compulsive fishing behavior
called “A Family Place” by Charles Gaines. The lesson is be careful
what you wish for you may get it. I recommend it, first because
the writing is excellent and second we compulsive types are shown
a clear picture of the darker side of our sport, a little sobering
and probably a little close to home. It’s just fishing, right?