On being at our best

Jay Nicholas Hollo Fly Chinook Intruder

Remember “Shame on Us?”

Well, it turns out that there’s more to the story and the “more” is very hopeful, as in full of hope for all of us anglers.

The world of anglers who flyfish for Chinook here in Oregon is pretty small, and not much of consequence gets by without notice, especially if one of use behaves in a particularly noteworthy manner.

A friend heard about the “Shame on Us” post and sent me a text yesterday evening,

“Are you fishing right now” it read.

“I called him, prepared to report on my most recent foiled effort to lure a Springer to any of m best flies, thinking he would be interested.

“Actually, I called to talk about the guy in your latest post,” my friend said.

“Go ahead, what do your know.” I asked?

Long story. Complicated story, Good story,

I listened.

My mood started out neutral, absorbing details—but after two or three minutes soaking it all in, I was sitting at my fly bench (see creation above), ceased tying and was sitting there smiling.

Here’s the short version.

The young man who behaved poorly at the Boat Hole reflected on the incident, his behavior, and the behavior of everyone around him.

He genuinely regretted his reaction, and more importantly,  he began to soak in some of the nuanced wisdom the situation offered.

None of us is perfect. Each of us has our own gunnysack filled with our life experiences, emotions, basic personality, and temperament. Our actions, reactions, and so forth are influenced each moment by the contents of this large gunnysack we carry around with us, everywhere we go.

Naturally, the bag grows larger each year and may, possibly, influence us in a different manner as we age, as we experience more, and as we learn, if we learn at all.

Who among the clan of salmon anglers carries a gunny sack without a single instance of regrettable behavior? Not me, that’s dang sure. I could rummage around and find  a few memories of times when I behaved poorly. Only a few?  Let’s let that one drop.

But we can learn. We can do better tomorrow, if we learn from our mistakes today.

At 6 PM yesterday I had no idea if the young man would ever be something more than a “pest” to contend with on the estuary. Now, after the conversation with my friend, I I look forward to fishing the same pool with him anchored nearby.

[Sidebar: anyone who knows me understands that I’d rather be fishing alone, with no one anchored near, with the freedom to anchor and fish anywhere I choose. But In this instance, I mean that if I must share water, I would consider this person a “welcome” companion in the pool.]

I’ve probably tortured this blog post. All I really wanted to do is tell everyone that some good has come from a very unpleasant situation, to share my optimism over what I’ve learned, to ask everyone who reads this to reflect on our own history with kindness and understanding—and to ask everyone to extend the same kindness and understanding to the young man who behaved so poorly in the Boat Hole a short while ago.

We’re human, we screw up, and maybe, just maybe, we can be better today than we were yesterday.

Jay Nicholas 29 June 2018

 

 

Shame on Us . . . . . .

 

2018-04-15 at 11-25-01This scene unfolded about 6 days ago on June 19th. Something over a dozen bank anglers were fishing gear (bobbers and spinners) from the Sandbar, the Point, and the Pogie Hole. I was In one of four boats anchored on the East side of the river, roughly straight across the holding water from the gear anglers. Everyone fishing from the boats were fishing flies.

So the gear anglers were on the West side of the hole, all on the bank. The fly guys were on the east side, facing the gear guys.

Naturally, gear guys were casting toward the fly guys—fly guys were casting at the gear guys.

Although this was a good set-up for an ugly confrontation, I was not expecting any to occur that morning, and I was shocked when it unfolded..

Sometime during mid-outgoing, a fly guy- n a white glass driftboat who was anchored high in the pool broke free from his anchor station unexpectedly, and wound up flailing about the pool directly in front of a young man in an aluminum drift boat who was fishing from a prime position below him. This happened not once but twice. The young man ceased his casting while this was going on, and resumed his efforts after the older man got control of his boat and re-anchored above him.

30 minutes later, another fly guy who was anchored in the top of the hole started his outboard, retrieved his anchor, and began to re-position below the young man fishing from the aluminum drift boat.

If it had been earlier in the tide, the man who was repositioning would have maneuvered to the East of the young man’s boat, staying in the shallows and avoiding the depths of the pool.

But the tide was very low, the boat too large to move in the shallows, so he kept his boat facing up-current, idling down-current though the deepest part of the pool, preparing to re-anchor in the lower part of the pool to resume fishing.

The manner in which the fellow was moving from the head to the tail of the pool was entirely reasonable, given the low water in the pool and the size of his boat. Further, the manner of his maneuver was far less intrusive than what one should expect to see on most days each week, given that this fishing hole is located on a boat ramp used by craft from as small as prams to 22 ft jet sleds.

Wait fo it.

Down comes the big fly guy boat. The young fly guy in the driftboat ceases casting while the big boat is slowly idling some 30 feet in front of his position—then he fires-off a cast straight at the older man drifting in front of him. The fly line lands so close that his leader wraps around the man’s neck, and the fly lodges on the edge of the man’s glasses.

Wow.

Really?

Heated words were exchanged between the two men. The older man was very angry. The younger man was defiant, self righteous, cocky. Promises of hostile action were issued by both men.

The exchange lasted perhaps five minutes or so. and it ended with the older man headed for the boat ramp to take out.

I moved close to the aggressor’s boat, anchored, and we talked. A helicopter practicing touch and go at the PC airport was loud, and made conversation difficult. He confidently stated his justification for wrapping his line around the man’s head. “Please,” I asked him, “don’t do this.”

Our conversation was civil,—I had the feeling that he thought me an idiot. I thought he was smirking under his sun mask.

I lifted my anchor then, drifted away from the young man standing in his aluminum boat, rowed across the tailout, and took my boat out at the ramp.

A friend fishing his bobber from the point during the confrontation occurred reeled in and walked over to talk while I winched my boat on the trailer.

“What the hell was that all about” he asked me.

I gave the short version while I loaded rods and gear into the back of my truck.

“That’s pathetic,” he said. We’ve finally got things worked out so that we don’t have the gear guys fighting all the time with the fly guys, and now the fly guys are going to go at each other.”

“Pathetic,” he said, shaking his head as he wandered back to the Point.

_______________________________

Jay Nicholas June 25, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day 2018

Jack V. Nicholas, circa 1956 0132

Dear dad.

Just a quick note to let you know that my life is good, family is well, and I am blessed with many wonderful friends. Yes, I know that the term “wonderful” is generally over-rated, and I in particular probably use it a little too often, but I’ll also say that when I use the phrase I try to be very conscious about what it means—full of wonder—in a good way.

Dulcie Joan Nicholas circa 1958 0142

I’ve been composing this letter in my head for weeks now, and finally sat down to the computer to write it today. Paragraph after paragraph crafted, edited, rewritten and then—deleted.

Jay and Dulcie Nicholas circa 1955 0109

You were the adult in the room, I was the child.

Jay Nicholas fishing circa 1954 0217

If I had one wish it would be this: I would go back in time to a day in the spring of 1968. I would be home for the weekend with my friend Steve Thorstead. We would be wearing our orange OSU crew shirts and packing up to go back to Corvallis.

 Jay Nicholas in OSU Crew shirt, circa 1968 0244.jpg

 I would ask Steve to give us a moment alone. I would stand you and mom side by side. I’d look at each of you carefully, so that I could remember you forever. Then I would give each of you a long hug, hold each of you by the shoulders, and tell you not to worry. “I’m going to be just fine,” I’d say. “I’m going to be father to two fine children who will make their way in life,” I’d say. It will take a while, but I will find love. “I’ll work hard, be blessed with the support of many good friends, and I’ll fish,” I’d say.”

Steve Thorsted, Jay Nicholas, and Dulcit NICHOLAS circa 1968 0242
 

“Thank you for loving me and getting me started. Dad, thank you for introducing me to fishing. Mom, thank you for the hours you sat in the car, alone, in winter near Heidelberg, while I cast my Super Duper in that pond, hoping for a trout to tug on my line.”

Jay Nicholas and Jack V Nicholas on Metolius circa 1964 0207

 “I’ve got to get going now, but please remember, every day, I love you and everything is going to be OK.”


 
Yup.

That’s what I’d say.

Jay Nicholas, June 16th 2018