THIS ONE GOES OUT TO MY SUBSCRIBERS

Just wanted to make sure you all knew that I moved fishingpoet to it’s own domain. Just click here and you’ll be taken to fishingpoet.com. You’ll see an easy email subscription box up at the top right. Just enter your email, submit and confirm and you’re good as gold.

I look forward to having you all over to the new digs!

Cool.
Matt

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WELL, IT’S OFFICIAL

Fishingpoet now has it’s own newly minted URL: fishingpoet.com

On the great advice of some folks who have been the iffy road of free blogging platforms before, I decided to put this journey called fishingpoet into a better pair of waders and boots and really get out into the current of this crazy electronic river. I’ll still be writing stories and poetry about fishing, hunting, fatherhood and my time in the Army, I’ll just be doing it on a site that is truly my own.

For those who have subscribed to this wordpress site, it’s easy to now follow at the new address. You can simply bookmark it or subscribe to the RSS feed and you’ll get notifications just like you do now.

Thanks all.

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THURSDAY

I’m not counting the days…I’m just close enough that I can say “three” without looking at my fingers.

I just packed and shipped a big box with my gear to Josh’s place in Portland. Inside, a duffel filled with fly boxes, waders, boots, a couple hats, handwarmers, my hunting backpack, chest pack, trout net, fly reels, wet-weather gear, clothes, head-lamps, hunting knife, one corncob and 2 Grabow pipes (plus lighters)…oh yea and my 8 wt Loomis, 5 wt Scott and 3 wt Eagle Claw (yes, you read that right…Eagle Claw). It’s going to be like Christmas morning unpacking that box when it arrives Friday morning.

The plan is to camp 2-3 days each on three rivers: the Upper Deschutes, the Upper Fall and the Crooked below the Prineville Reservoir. I’m excited. Heading toward sleepless. In all my travels, I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest. I’ve read stories about the rivers and the muscled spirits they hold. I’ve got my notebook for stream-side thoughts and fire-side recollections. I’m taking pics and video, downloading it all to my laptop when we pack out to the truck between rivers. It’s time for stories of my own. My imagination is stuck somewhere between the Field & Stream magazines of my childhood and Wonka’s factory. Golden ticket. Damn right I’ve got one.

The coolest part: I get to be on the water for  7 days with an old friend. It’s been 17 years since we we’re stationed in Germany, working god-awful hours at an ammo supply point, and keeping god-awful hours at the local bars. 17 years. We’ve got a lot of fishing to do.

Stay tuned.

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OLD MAN RIVER, Installment 4, Thesis

Another from the thesis. I spend a total of two months in the Delta doing research for a book about the Delta Blues. One day I had a chance to paddle on the river in a dugout canoe, hand made by John Ruskey. There’s only a handful of natural wonders in this great country that can grab you by your soul and fill you full of a profound new perspective. The Mississippi is one.

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Yesterday on the river, the Old Man spoke in roiling current & half buried bleach-white branches. Heading upstream, hugging the shoreline to avoid thousand-yard barges & the Coast Guard tug snagging stranded buoys, we paddled past lifetimes of conversation gouged out of the rip-rapped banks, past forty, fifty foot trees beached thirty foot above water-line, like broken toothpicks discarded after a dinner of catfish, fried okra, black-eyed peas & sweet tea.

When you’re on the Mississippi you’re on river time.
I kept waiting for something to happen.

We made a fire among driftwood on a sandbar & boiled water for coffee while the river slipped past silent as the smoke from the black walnut we were burning. I crossed the tracks of beaver that had gnawed down brush-branches & dragged them to the water, a raccoon’s small hand-prints following the waterline for dead fish, the ghosts of coyotes wrestling around higher up the bank—tails swishing sand, paws, bellies, backs & snouts imprinted. The river is down 18 foot from normal for this time of year & we’re all taking advantage.

When spring sends its run-off from the Continental Divide & Ohio River valley, from Canada & the northern plains, our tracks here will be washed away—disappearing in that immense breath.

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Filed under Blues from the Delta and the road, In the water, In the woods, My thesis was about fishing

THE BOWHUNTING BOOK

One of the best things about being a creative at an advertising agency is that I’m fortunate enough to call some amazingly talented people my friends….artists, designers, writers, musicians, photographers. Another bonus is being asked to collaborate with some of these talented people on a project that’s outside the confines of work…especially when the project is about bowhunting.

I had been on some shoots for Grant Taylor, a photographer, friend and kindred outdoors spirit. He’s slogged his way into a muddy January field, climbed 25 feet up a tree and hunkered down in a snowy hedgerow to get shots like these (and the masthead image on this blog):



So when he asked if I’d be willing to write poetry for a bowhunting photography promo book that he was planning, I was all-in. An added bonus: I got to work with another close friend and tremendous designer, Rachel Spence.

Aside from it being a beautiful collection and representation of Grant’s outdoor photography and Rachel’s design, the finished product turned out to be, for me, a pretty significant reflection on my passion for this sport and the outdoors, as well as my relationship with my dad. It’s not often that I get emotional about anything I write, but at one point while writing the piece for the image of the the generational picture, I actually got choked up – realizing just how fortunate I’ve been to have the time in the field that I do with my dad. It’s a big deal, and something I look forward to enjoying with my kids.

At any rate I wanted to share the book with all you kindred outdoor spirits…enjoy.

And with that, I give you SEASONS.

(Just click the link. It’s attached as a PDF)

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MAIN STREET AND A WILD TURKEY

I turned right out of the driveway onto Main Street, as I do every weekday morning–the kids clamoring from the back seat for for me to pump up the iPod and give them something to get their day started. Music to them is about 3 cups of hi-test for me. God love ‘em.

A quarter-mile down, as I pulled into the turning lane for a left onto Gibson Street, a big, black object flew across Main Street from my right, just low enough for me to catch a glimpse through the windshield. That’s one hell of a big blackbird was the first thing that popped into my head, followed within a fraction of a second by the realization that it wasn’t actually a blackbird. At that same moment, my 6 year-old son’s voice from the back seat: Holy crap! A TURKEY!

My wife told me the other day that Cam had confided in her that his vision, when it comes to certain animals in their natural habitat, is sharper than mine. His words: I see geese and ducks better than dad. And sometimes deer too. I know exactly where his estimation comes from.

We live in the Finger Lakes region in Upstate NY. Wildlife in our neck of the woods is enjoying a resurgence. Geese, duck, whitetail, pheasant, rabbit, red-tail hawk, coyote, beaver, heron, fox, squirrel. Bear are even starting to find the area hospitable. It’s a bitter-sweet resurgence though. I’m very excited that pheasant are back and that other game animals have healthy populations. But available hunting land is drying up, as are numbers of hunters in the field. Both are troubling from the standpoint of conservation. I saw a hell of a lot more deer dead on the side of the road this year, which, ironically, is also a hell of a lot more than I saw in the woods this year.

So, given the uptick in animal numbers, every car ride that involves a route even remotely close to the outskirts of our fair city includes wildlife-spotting, just like they did when I was a kid.

Deer
, I announce.
Looks like 4, no 5, no 7, reports Cam. No bucks though, dad?
Nope, looked like doe.

I hear geese, I state. Where are they at?
Got ‘em, points Cam. Followed by a few make-shift honks into his closed hand, like he’s holding a call.

Recently, he’s taken to leading the spotting charge though. And he’s good. On a recent drive to my wife’s parent’s house, we were heading down our usual country road route when Cam says:

Geese.
Where? I ask, glancing both ways and up through the windshield.
Up ahead, over there.
Where?
He rolled down the window and pointed into the wind. It took me a few more seconds to figure the trajectory of his finger, but sure as shootin’…he had a string of 7 or 10 birds pegged just above the treeline about a mile away.

Good eye, bud. You got ‘em.
His smile in my rear view mirror couldn’t have been any bigger.

But that turkey caught us all by surprise…as only the jarring juxtaposition of Main Street and a wild turkey can. And while I’d call it a draw on who actually saw it first, I’m sure the next time he mentions his ability to spot game, as compared to dad’s…his list will include that gobbler. Which is exactly how it should be.

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Filed under Fatherhood and venison jerkey, In the woods

FLY FISHING IN HOLLAND, Installment 3, Thesis

[10]

I once fished a brackish water lake in Holland near the Port of Rotterdam for rainbows. Bought a train ticket & boarded at Den Haag Centrum at 6:21 for a twenty-two minute ride to Rotterdam, catching a subway at Rotterdam Centrum bound for Spijkenisse to meet Harry, who would drive to Oostvoornse Meer & show me how to fish the lake.

Meer is Dutch for lake.

I traveled with my waders, boots, vest, rod case & wore my Stetson.

The train & subway rides were like this:
Buildings in their geometric slumber.
Steel wheels switching track, screaming & switching again.
Gray-violet sky & street lights over efficient cars parked in impossible spaces.
Graffiti. O the heavenly, decadent graffiti.
Tiny seasonal shacks & greenhouses splitting a canal with a factory, both
sending blooms skyward.
Bridges & irrigation canals & bridges & graffiti & clean architectural lines & a
low skyline & two white geese & poplar windbreaks & crazy single lane streets &
high voltage power line towers.
Light in the clouds like the blood of God.

[11]

Standing in saltwater that big, playing the odds with a bet that’s the size of a gorged mosquito, I felt pointless & foreign.

Beyond the dunes lay a highway, beyond that rail-cars carried armored personnel carriers to be shipped out of the port; ships moored on the horizon, stoic iron architecture below the labor of cranes & smoke stacks.
This lake is protected, the fish introduced.
I dipped my hand & tasted the water.
Here they are trying to find ways to include nature within the crowd.
Harry showed me a tern’s nest in the cattails, full of eggs–explained how the lake would be completely freshwater in thirty years due to springs throughout the shallows.
Warm air blew in from the east & emptied me.

The fish were immense & beautiful. We hooked them on size 16 green nymphs & hawthorn fly imitations.

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