Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trout Fishing In America

Several weeks ago as I was driving VW Coho home from a fishing/camping adventure on the Deschutes River, during which I caught no fish, I started thinking about Richard Brautigan's 1967 book, TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA. This is a small novel about the summer in which a man is a trout bum in Idaho. In the story THE TROUT FISHING DIARY OF ALONSO HAGEN is discovered. The diary covers the fishing seasons of 1891 through 1897. During that time Hagen fished 160 days,

caught 0 fish,

lost 2,231 fish,

for an average of 13.9 trout lost for every day he went fishing.

He summarized his trout fishing experience thusly:

"I've had it.

I've gone fishing now for seven years and I haven't caught a single trout.

I've lost every trout I ever hooked.

They either jump off or twist off,

or squirm off or break my leader

or flop off or fuck off.

I haver never even gotten my hands on a trout.

For all its frustration,

I believe it was an interesting experiment in total loss

but next year somebody else will have to go trout fishing.

Somebody else will have to go out there."

I do not know how closely Hagen's fishing woes paralleled Brautigan's, but I do know that he committed suicide in 1984.

I'm not there, yet.

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