“Me and Joe went fishing on Wednesday night. Where we went ….”,
OK, I can hear the groans already. “NOT another so-called, ‘Me and Joe’ story.” Well, I’m with you on that. I’ve had enough of those old brag-pole, exploit riddled tales, too. But this is NOT just another, ‘Me and Joe’. This is a real life, honest-to-goodness, Me (Les Booth) and Joe (Joe Cornwall) fishing story. It’s not what you’d expect. Really!
If you’re looking for photos of big, football shaped bucket-mouth bass, or platter sized bluegill, or rod straining trout, then you will be disappointed. This is not a story about ‘CATCHING’ or ‘SPECIES PORN’. This is a story about two guys who have known each other for several years in the online world of email, web sites, blogs and podcasts, finally getting to meet, face-to-face, in their favorite venue: fly-fishing.
We both belong to the Outdoor Writers Association of America and dance among the digital wave of New Media. But until Wednesday night, 20 August 2008, we’d never met in person.
Earlier this spring, I had a hit on a real fishing treat, come in from a contact, made over a year earlier. This was to be a real, rare treat, too. A mid-state Ohio group, specializing in breeding huge trout and placing them into recovered natural streams in central Ohio, offered me and up to three friends, a ‘taste of trout fishing Nirvana’. I jumped on it. Inviting my best fishing buddy on the blue orb, Ed Hauser, my son and the one fellow from the ‘Ohio’ area whom I just knew would really appreciate such a rare experience: Joe Cornwall. Well, as luck would have it, Mother Nature was destined to rain on our parade. She decided to dump an unseasonably high rain event right over the ‘Nirvana’ and our plans were dashed. We patiently requested a ‘rain check’ and were granted it by the owners. When that happens, I will – well… maybe … tell you all about it. But once again Joe and I were to remain ‘virtual’ acquaintances only.
Not quite a month later, I invited Joe to come to my neighborhood to fish my ‘Home Waters’ for my personal favorite game fish, the explosive and every entertaining, Smallmouth bass. That also happens to be Joe’s favorite piscatorial delight, as well. Though the hallowed waters have held all summer, work, events and well — life, conspired against our futile attempts in setting and consummating a successful outing. Thus, the “Home Waters” venture remains a future event.
Then three weeks ago, I receive an email from Joe saying he would be passing through Lafayette on his way from a business meeting in Chicago, on his way to another one the next day in Evansville. He wanted to know if he chose to stay in Lafayette, would I be interested in getting together and could I possibly have a bass pond where we could share a proper introduction: fishing. I fired back an immediate response, that I sure would and definitely could make that happen. All he’d need to do was tell me WHERE and WHEN to meet him and I’d be there with pontoons in tow and a fabulous water where we could go!
The die was cast. The day awaited. And the fishing gods smiled. So did me and Joe.
Me and Joe were going fishing!
|It really was just that funny!|
The weather last Wednesday was perfect. The temps were in the mid 70s, humidity in the low 40’s and only an occasional breeze chopped the waters. Normally, I don’t mind that chop, but for that evening I desired a still-as-glass water for the potential of explosive top water bass action. But, life experiences educate us to realize all requests posited to the divine – whether provided or not, are not necessarily what we truly need. Such was the case for this evening. For the waters were like glass and the top water action was full of potential – it was not found. However, something far greater came to hand.
We had just missed the ‘bite’ forecast by the Solar/Lunar Tables; having ended just 2 hours before we could get on the water. For some that would just plain terminate any reason for being on the water. What’s the point? The likelihood of a ‘real catch’ was lost; might as well pull stakes and wait for the next window. Right?
I had long ago proven that such natural rhythms are good to pay attention to; they really do work. Equally, I have learned it is wise to neither dump all your eggs into one basket or believe in only a single line of thinking. When interacting with the flow of nature, flexibility is the KEY to a lasting and continual level of success. Have all the information you can have, but be willing to adjust on the fly (yes, all puns are willfully and gratuitously accepted!)
We missed it. But, we still caught fish. This is neither a chock up for or against the block of fishermen who either swear by, or swear at the ‘tables’. Really, there isn’t a need to waste your time in trying to be in either camp… if you’re going fishing. For you see there in lies the understanding of the KEY to flexibility.
There is a huge difference between FISHING and CATCHING.
‘Cause you see… Me and Joe had come to fish.
- Fishing has no agenda beyond the moment. Catching demands outcomes.
- Fishing doesn’t equate success with quantity. Catching doesn’t exist without it.
- Fishing is ecumenical on all levels of human experience. Catching is purely denominational.
- Fishing allows – even welcomes and seeks – serendipity. Catching fears and loathes it; demanding engineering precision.
- Fishing is fun. Catching is work.
- Fishing is open to anyone. Catching is a closed fraternity.
Me and Joe were fishing.
Me and Joe weren’t looking for food. And that is the difference. Had we needed food, we would have gone fishing with catching as the objective. Catching fish was never our objective.
Getting to know each other over a good catch-basin of protein rich water, while amply plying the combined techniques of fly-casting, fly selection and observation, interwoven with a sublime mix of individual solitude and in-depth conversation on a wide ranging array of topics, was the objective. And I must admit, we hit the nail, squarely on the head! Bingo! Success on the highest level possible. We accomplished what we set out to do … and then some.
Our fishing including not only seeking serendipitous encounters of an ichthyologic kind, but we were fishing the personal waters of our own lives. Joe and I both – heartily agreed – that the last line from, A River Runs Through It, were not only Norman Maclean’s most powerful, but range true to the very core of our nature. We ARE both, “…haunted by waters.” Thus, for us, there is no better place to consummate a personal relationship than in the company of WATER. And fishing is our common choice of baptism.
Thus, Me and Joe fished.
Now, to be fully functional, every outing should also contain a bit of ‘learning something you did not know before’ and we added that to the retinue as well. However, it was not something to deal with the water, nor fishing. It was about my home area. Restaurants to be exact.
Even though Lafayette is home to a major Big Ten University, a lively and growing urban area, has more eating establishments that really is healthy and – is my ‘home ground’ – of sorts – I was totally taken aback with finding that nearly all restaurants in the area rolled up their sidewalks at 10PM!
WHAT !!! ? !!!
Hadn’t they read the memo that our area of Indiana had been speed-jumped into the modern age two years earlier and we were now on Daylight Savings time? Therefore, people are up and moving about later? And we like to eat later, too! Well, I guess not.
Me and Joe got fished.
We were hungry and not ready to lay our conversation aside. So after visiting likely watering holes for edible food and drink, we were forced to take refuge at the local B-Dub … yeah, we didn’t know what they meant either! – but that was the local vernacular for the local establishment of the national chain, BW3 (Buffalo Wings 3). The beer as it turned out, was excellent, the hot-sauce though, left me wishing for a Cajun cook and the inside noise drove us out into a most pleasant evening air. Well, 2 out of 3 wasn’t bad. But we both agreed, it would be another mistake that would land us in a BDub anytime soon.
Oh well. Live and learn. Besides … we didn’t get together to eat.
Me and Joe went fishing and will go fishing again. Soon.
Joe Cornwall fishing Fairfield Lake #1
w/ Les Booth
Joe Cornwall publishes a top-class web site full of interesting, useful and timely content called, Fly-Fish Ohio. Joe is an outstanding fly-tier and has a real talent for thoroughly engaging the student in both technique and conversation. His video segments on fly-tying are not to be passed up. As well, his podcasts are truly among the top 10 of all podcasts on the Internet. Give Joe’s website a visit and take in his offerings. You will not be disappointed.
He is also the author of one of the best books on warmwater fly-fishing I’ve ever read (Fly Fishing Warm Water Rivers) you can find more information on the book and how to purchase it on his web site, too.