July 28, 2010

I dislike the dog days of summer for a variety of reasons, only one of which is that by now the trout fishing has pretty solidly gone to pot. The end of spring usually doesn’t bring the best fishing but at least there’s some, which means you more or less have a standing excuse to cool off on a river somewhere. I can usually still find some fishing when the fireflies appear–the seasonal death knell for trout fishing in my area–though by then I know it won’t be long until the fish turn off, or die, or hunker down in cooler waters and that the dog days will soon be upon us.

Izzy the Shopdog

I was thinking about it the other day — brooding about it I suppose — while sitting at my workbench with a heatgun, using it to prep some bamboo nodes for pressing. The little device was definitely getting the better of the rickety old air conditioner that I have propped in the window and Izzy the shopdog, who is usually a trooper about the heat, was panting away furiously in the corner.

Maybe it was the heat that had me in a funk, though it also could have been the task at hand. I’ve discovered over the years that the different steps involved in building a bamboo rod do tend to play to different dispositions: making ferrules is for the engineers, finish work is the domain of the artists, but pressing nodes is definitely for the brooders. Give me a bunch of type-A maniacs, a heatgun, and several bundles of bamboo, and I could have them mooning away like the NYU philosophy department.

Like many crafts building rods also has a seasonal rhythm to it. Fall and Spring are the low seasons, at least when the fish are on, so you work like crazy during the dog days and over the winter to make up for it, trying to get orders filled and out the door. Yet even though this rhythm has become second nature to me after all these years, I still can’t shake the feeling that trout season is too short and that I waited an awfully long time for it to roll around. As Junior pointed out the other day, at least with baseball you get 162 games to watch and prepare you for the low-level depression that comes with the end of the season. Not so with fishing, at least not in my neck of the woods.

In the end I’ve found that the best remedy is the old New England standby which us yankees have been practicing for years and which works well with too-hot summers and too-cold winters alike: Stay Busy. That’s what I’m planning to do for the next month or two and it also helps that I’ve got a few things in the works to help break up some of the monotony, among them the festival at the American Museum of Fly Fishing later in August.

It also probably helps that I’ve got one more ace up my sleeve too, my annual Salmon trip to Canada that I take every fall. It’s a heck of a lot easier to stare down the summer doldrums when you have something like that to look forward to, and by the time late August rolls around I’ve usually found that my mind has started mulling over the upcoming trip. Gradually the fishing reports start coming in and I turn from just dreaming about it to actually thinking through some of the nuts-and-bolts logistics at which point the old excitement returns once again.

All in all, I guess I can’t complain too much. It’s a pretty nice ace to have.

-Marc


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