With every privilege comes great responsibility.
The word responsibility has sort of lost its meaning over time, with everyone looking to duck blame, or distance themselves from bad situations that they might in fact themselves be responsible for. It’s easy to fall into that trap when you watch the news, and listen to politicians shirk their own responsibilities, or when you watch reality television, and see people essentially go through lives that seem to have very little repercussion.
Every once in a while, you come across a writing that jolts you back to the REAL reality of the human condition. We’re all in this together. This planet belongs to none of us, and yet all of us.
This week, I read just such a blog post. It was written by a young man named Dylan Rose. Dylan’s a fly fisherman and blogger, and from what I can gather on his website at SkateTheFly.com, a pretty down to earth kind of guy. His musings ramble like a good trout stream. Although, from the home page, you get the feeling he might be more at home on a sluggish back water, casting poppers way too big for the fish that live there, and loving every minute of it.
Sure, his little bio picture to the right shows him holding a blue bell trout in “fine and far off” conditions. But, go look at this home page. You might be surprised at his featured image.
Further though, you start reading. This guy knows what he’s doing. He catches big trout. He has beautiful pictures taken of them. He might be JUST LIKE the lawyer you met on Oatka Creek that tried to muscle you out of a honey hole you had every right to be in.
But he isn’t.
Last week, he posted a piece about Oprah Winfrey. I know, I know, classic fly fishing fodder.
As I read it, I was amazed at how his attitude mirrored mine so much. It’s not the fly rod you carry that makes you. It’s not your waders, or your fly selection, or the logo on your hat.
Rather, it’s your respect for the waters you fish, the people you fish them with, and the fish you target.
Yet again I was made privy to an article that made me want to vomit a little in my mouth by the ever endearing Moldy Chum blog. This time it was Matt Labash’s post on the Daily Caller about the recent fly fishing excursion Oprah made to the Merced River in an effort to create a camping/outdoorsy themed show. He decides to take the position of a grizzled fly fishing vet all bent out-of-shape because Oprah went fly fishing (whom he regards as a “war criminal”), and is frightened that “tens of thousands” of “…galoots following Oprah’s lead…” will go tromping through the “best water” and spoil the fishing for “…the rest of us”.
Really? You’re going to be that guy? The alarmist scared fly fishing old man that is bummed out about the fact that all the good water is infested with fly fisherman that are not anointed because they weren’t on the river before the River Runs Through It craze? The same guy that would blow me off on the river when a 17 year old version of myself asked “what’re they were biting on?”, only to get smirked at because I was wearing soaking wet Levis instead of Simms waders, and getting skunked because I didn’t know what the Latin name for the little green bugs flying around was (still don’t know). Are you part of the fly fishing contingent on the far right that was scared that Obama was going to ban fishing for all eternity several months ago? Give me a break.
Please, please go read the rest of his post here: An Oprah Rant; Get Over It, Dude.
We Should Be Fishing Ambassadors
We were all that kid in Levi’s at one point. Unsure how to hold a fly rod. Not aware of how to launch a kayak through breakers on Lake Ontario or the Atlantic Ocean.
Now that I’m both a kayak fisherman and a fly fisherman (and, dare I say, more than two times 17), I think I’ve quietly accepted my mission. I don’t want to be the guy that doesn’t help out. I don’t want to worry about 2 kayaks being at my favorite spot on the Finger Lakes, or a caster being at my favorite slick water on the Oatka.
I’d prefer to be an ambassador. It’s why we started the Western New York Kayak Fishing Association. It’s why I invite anyone and everyone I meet to come fishing with me. And it’s why I’m late to work sometimes, because someone stops me in a gas station parking lot and asks me about the Liquid Logic stuck on my roof.
“Is it stable?”
“Can I duck hunt out of it?”
“Where did you get it?”
The kids are always the future of any sport, pastime, or worthy pursuit. That’s an idea beaten into our heads mercilessly. I think too that my father in law, my next door neighbor, and some random guy that sends me an email are the future of our sport as well.
And that’s why I discuss it at length with anyone who will listen. I want to grow the sport, not keep it for myself.
It’s not all altruism either. There’s strength in numbers. Masses have a voice, and that’s important to all of us in these days of “ban before understanding” legislation. I’ll admit, I was a little worried when the Obama issue came up that Dylan mentions in his post. But that’s the beauty of a group having a voice. Could the banning of recreational fishing on public property really come to pass? Very, very, very unlikely. I know that now.
And it’s in reading well thought out pieces like Dylan’s that the point gets driven home. Thanks for writing it, Dylan.
Again, you can read more about him at SkateTheFly.com or follow him at Twitter: SkateTheFly.