Mark Sides photo, Coyahique, Chile
THIS MAY BE “Fly Fishing Jazz,” but no matter how you slice it, jazz is meant to be played after dark—or at least after the evening hatch starts.
The morning—before sunrise, when you’re rumbling and fumbling, looking to set the personal gyroscope on a new day, and ultimately making your way to the river or boat launch to the flats—well, that belongs to a different genre. I think that’s country. Not the commercial, rhinestone, Nashville, hit machine, insultingly-stupid-lyrics brand of pop country. I’m talking about the “been there, done that” stuff from Guy Clark, or Steve Earle, or Jerry Jeff Walker… maybe even the rock-country crossovers like Gram Parsons or Stephen Stills. And maybe, when it’s just right, it should be Townes Van Zandt.
My favorite, “going to the river” song, for when there’s still dew on the hood and you see your breath in the air as you load up in the morning, has been, and always will be, “Roll Um Easy” by Little Feat.
The lyrics just seem almost hauntingly true: “Oh I am just a vagabond… a drifter on the run… and eloquent profanity… it rolls right off my tongue… (my wife and friends will attest to that);
“And I have dined in palaces… drunk wine with kings and queens (kinda like the other week when I hung out with the minister of finance from the country of Guyana, and told him he should put on the ‘big boy pants’ and support fly fishing as a tourism entity)… but darlin’ oh darlin’ you’re the best thing I ever seen.”
Yes indeed… no apprehension, no tension… “sweet paradise.”
In fishing, there are certain moments and places when nothing matters but the anticipation of what lies ahead, and I have come to believe that those are the best feelings of all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played that song as the wheels of the truck hummed over asphalt, then gravel trails. It always puts me in the mood to fish.
“Well I’ve been across this country… from Denver to the ocean… and I’ve never met girls that could sing so sweet like the angels who live in Houston.” Without much more detail, I’ll simply vouch that that’s true.
So what’s your going to the water song? Somewhere along the continuum of every angler’s life, that song changes from “pump you up” and anticipation, to the melancholy “seen it, done it… wish I can have a little more.” And that’s when the tunes are sweetest.
Some of you know exactly what I am talking about. The rest of you will discover it, no doubt, sooner or later.