john gierach,    no shortage of good days,    Review

More on "No Shortage of Good Days" -- Are Fly Fishing's Class Wars Fodder For Gierach?

Posted by Tom Chandler 5/19/2011

I'm about 2/3 of the way through Gierach's No Shortage of Good Days and noticing it seems rife with comments about what I'll loosely label as fly fishing's class wars, a thought which just became fodder for my upcoming interview.

In the meantime...



"Many of us had taken up fly fishing not so much as a sport, but as a possible path to enlightenment, and as everyone knows, those routes aren't the same for everyone and they're never clearly marked. You just head out into whatever seems like the right direction at the time."


See you reading, Tom Chandler.

AuthorPicture

Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

28 comments
It's possible that fly fishing generates a certain state of mind....(which is why I like Giearach's writing)...compared to say meditating under a tree in a forest for days? In that sense, "a path to enlightment" is simply not a hard concept to grasp. But to get out of this sinkhole, in context, I think he uses it to describe his struggle at that point of his life, where he adds "and as everyone knows, ... more those routes aren’t the same for everyone and they’re never clearly marked"...point made. Last time I checked, John Gierach is the man!!!!!
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[...] Gierach on fly fishing’s class wars [...]
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I've just never heard of the learning process being called "a possible path to enlightment," unless it meant something more than knot tying. But, you are correct Kelly, and I am duly chastised . . . err, enlightened (lower case) . . . regarding my blogging etiquette.
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Probably the first thing to do is grab a dictionary and learn what "enlightenment" means. Unless Mr. G. practices religion as a Budist or a Hindu, enlightenment is simply the act of learning. Maybe he wants to learn more about himself, or nature or fishing, or maybe even fly fishing. The real trick here is to see if the word is capitalized in the book. If that's the case his Enlightenment would be ... more directed towards reaching a higher spiritual plain, but as it's not capitalized..... I think he just wanted to find out what fly fishing was all about and is still in the process. If I teach someone to tie a knot they don't know, I enlighten them. At this point not only are you enlightening us as to your views on the books content, but you also have others who are reviewing the book based on what they think you mean, without ever having opened the front leaf. All of this might be thought of as being enlightened regarding some of the blogging process!!!!!
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Good luck - and get some biscuits and butter with that steak.
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Tom Chandler: This very statement came up in the interview, and was dismissed. More to come. Well, if it really is about catching fish, I'm going to be depressed. Whenever I get skunked, I say "it's not about catching fish." Now I realize I just got skunked.
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Yeah, I'm with you. Tried to read the Yale Angler's Journal "best of" book, and struggled with most all the stories. I'm not all that interested in seeing how many words can be crammed into a sentence; I'm looking for a little insight.
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Steve...and I do find that its gotten into my blood. I don't go in much for that Zen of fly fishing stuff, but it does make sense to me in a way. I find that getting alone on a Trout stream helps me to better pay attention to the smaller things in life. Sounds to me like you go in for the "zen" stuff pretty heavily. Fly fishing means something to all us way beyond gathering food, and "zen" is probably ... more as good a single word for it as anything.
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FinFollower: Remember, it's really not about catching fish. This very statement came up in the interview, and was dismissed. More to come.
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Flylink: Wonder what in the hell that path I wandered down was? I think that was the trail to the outhouse. Sorry, buddy.
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Gotta be 80,000-100,000 words in the thing; surely you can't deny me a couple dozen in lieu of actually writing blog posts? In any case, I'm sure John Gierach (and especially his publisher) thank you.
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I guess everyone is correct and each person's reasons for fly fishing and each person's favorite style of writing IS a matter of personal taste. In fact, that's a redundant statement. If someone enjoys fly fishing because they perceive it as an elitist sport and they want to be part of that elite, then I suppose they are having fun in their own way. And maybe I was not entirely honest about Gierach ... more either. I have eight or nine Gierach books on my shelf, as well as dozens and dozens of others. And I've probably enjoyed each book at least two or three times. I suppose it's just that I enjoy certain books better than others. My favorite, I hate to admit, is Charles Fox's “This Wonderful World of Trout,” which is almost childish in its enthusiasm for fly fishing. That book touches on issues of “class warfare” and “enlightenment” but in an allegorical sense, always under the guise of just another fishing story. Whoops, that sort of like Gierach, huh?
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hate not being able to edit out my dodgy grammar.
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T'aint broke, and I'm glad he isn't trying to fix it. Its' all a matter of preference (state the obvious, Jonny). I was trying to read James Proseck (again) in bed last night and I almost hurled the book (Early Fondling and Brook Trout, or something) against the wall, such was it's nauseating syrupiness. I can't go near Lyons or The Diary of an Edwardian Lady for the same reason, but I'm sure they ... more must be very good. Cheers -- Jonny
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i have known John for close to 30 years and he has always been that way.fished with him quite a few times etc.2 things i always think about ,1 i live by today i call the Gierach curse,never catch a fish on the first cast. and the other is one night at a trout unlimited meeting someone in the crowd ask him if he fished with graphite fly rods .his reply was that he uses them for tent poles.priceless!!!
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Amen Steve! Well said.
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I hate to admit that I'm a newbie, but I am. I like to think that I came to the sport without a lot of pretention, though. A few summers ago I went to a conference and another guy and I took a canoe down a little river. I steered the canoe and he fished. He caught a few nice-sized brook trout and I thought to myself, "I'd like to do that. It looks fun." While we drifted downstream, I told the guy--he ... more was a dean of students at a college in North Carolina--about a Hemingway's short story I read once: "Big Two-Hearted River." It's about a man who comes home damaged by his experiences in World War One. The war is barely mentioned in the story, but you can tell how grateful the narrator is to be alone again in nature with only the problems of fishing to occupy his mind. So later I bought a fly rod, read a few nearly useless "how to" books, threw them away, and then spent a few instructive sessions catching sun fish in farm ponds. Caught my first Brown Trout on a vacation in Colorado. I've been fishing small streams in the driftless area for a few years now, and I do find that its gotten into my blood. I don't go in much for that Zen of fly fishing stuff, but it does make sense to me in a way. I find that getting alone on a Trout stream helps me to better pay attention to the smaller things in life. I mean the horrors of this world are undeniable: wars, terrorism, financial malfeasance. They exist and demand attention, but odd, quietly beautiful moments exist, too. They also require attention. I like the way fly fishing makes me pay attention to what's going on around me: the wind, the current, the weather, the fish. And that's about as spiritual as I'm prepared to go with it. I mean, in the end, it's just a grown man yanking on a fish, right?
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No, no, no! I've decided to get out of the Fly Fishing World Domination Business altogether. I found out that there just weren't enough really good perks with that occupation. My newest goal is to get the Country Fried Steak(and gravy) at every IHop in America by this coming Independence Day. Wish me luck! ( I've got no beef with a little "enlightenment." ) ;)
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Jeff, Have I just given you the fodder for your next video or radio program? Leigh
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FinFollower: I enjoy John's work, but can't read too much of it. I find myself wanting to quit my job and move to the west, live in my truckand fish full time. I haven't read this one yet, but look forward to it. Remember, it's really not about catching fish. Leigh Maybe for you! ha! :)
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I enjoy John's work, but can't read too much of it. I find myself wanting to quit my job and move to the west, live in my truck and fish full time. I haven't read this one yet, but look forward to it. Remember, it's really not about catching fish. Leigh
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[...] at Trout Underground, they’re discussing John Gierach’s new book and Tom is quoting some of it with the [...]
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I'm not so sure the man isn't writing for his audience, although there are more and more expressions of fly fishing ( or of it's smaller factions: bamboo, tenkara, etc.) as some sort of religious experience. It's my opinion that most of this can be attributed to the fact that so many folks these days wouldn't know a religious experience if it struck them down from a dark, gray cloud. ( PS - the world ... more is ending tomorrow. Get your last casts in now, fellas.) I've never liked Gierach's work. Nothing personal, just not my style. I'm more of a "Nick Lyons" kinda guy. I wonder if Nick every thought of fly fishing as a.............nahhh.
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Ya know what I like about fly fishing ? No more messing with that stinky bait & and nasty worms of my distant past ! I'm hooked till can't make it to a river !!
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I started down the path of fun, and then thought I took a detour on the path of enlightenment. When that trail faded, I bushwacked for a while, and lo & behold, the path of fun & of enlightenment were the same! Wonder what in the hell that path I wandered down was?
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I started fly fishing many years ago as a young man (no saying how many years ago) because I thought it was a way to catch more fish. By the time I learned it was a less productive way to fish I was already hooked on how fun it was. Now it is a lifestyle but first and formost fun.
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The over-analyzing of fly fishing is becoming tiresome. I started fly fishing 50 years ago after I saw Gadabout Gaddis on TV. It looked beautiful and fun - - simple as that. No spiritual revelations or social ambitions - - just fun. My first outfit was a willow branch and some waxed string from my mother's pantry. I tied a popping bug directly to the string, not knowing about leaders, and caught a ... more few 4-inch bluegill from the farm pond out back. It's been fun ever since, especially after I discovered trout and clear, cold water. Why must it be subject to so much dissection of motives, self-absorption, and opthalmoskepsis. Why can't it just be fun? I really used to enjoy Gierach, but his writing increasingly reads like an undergraduate philosophy textbook. Path to Enlightenment?
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Curse you Tom! I had to run out and purchase my copy (no kindle = no e-reader version for me) lest you spoil the book by quoting too many passages. Looking forward to your reports on the interview!!
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