On one of its first big fishing trips, the hat blew off my head as we motored across the morning surface of Black Lake. The sun had just hit the water, filtered by a thin layer of fog coming off the lake, and our guide goosed the outboard without much warning. It flipped off my dome and landed unceremoniously in the drink.
I got it back. Not because it was anything special, but because it was the only hat I’d brought with me on this, my first trip to the boreal north to chase pike. Soggy and cold, I settled it on my head and pulled the hood of my rain jacket up to keep it from going rogue again.
Since that great day in northern Saskatchewan, the hat has literally traveled the world. It’s been to Chile and Argentina. The Bahamas, the Mayan Riviera. Australia. Alaska. Back to Canada a half dozen times. The East Cape. Australia. Tucked away in my luggage, it’s endured more miles than a Johnny Cash song.
The other day, I took it to a great little desert trout stream here in eastern Idaho. I’d geared up the camper and was on the first overnighter of the season—this is the trip where you discover all the kinks that have to be worked out, so you don’t go for too long, and you don’t go too far. You just go, and make a list. New batteries are likely in my future. Maybe even a new ball hitch. The blinds are starting to bend. Might be time replace them with pressure-rod curtains.
But the hat. You don’t replace a hat. Maybe you relegate it to retirement. But you don’t just get rid of it, even if the seams are pulling and the fabric covering the brim is starting to disintegrate. It’s got the memory of my head ingrained in every stitch, and just looking at it makes my mind conjure up memories from adventures all over the world.
Maybe I’m assigning an inanimate object too much significance. But a good hat … you keep a good hat.
But you do get new ones. And, with fishing season upon us, a good hat should also come with a good message.
All across America, anglers who chase trout are blessed with millions of acres of public lands on which to do so—these special places exist under shared ownership, and are accessible without having to pay a fee, ask for permission or genuflect to nobility. The idea that our country’s public lands are somehow burdensome or that they should be transferred to states and eventually sold to private interests is absurd and, at its foundation, fundamentally un-American.
So post a photo and a comment about your favorite hat (here on the blog or on the social media post accompanying this post), the one that you’ll never get rid of, but one you might like to retire or rest a bit, and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win of several TU/Rep Your Water public lands hats (pictured above).
Or, if you’d rather just have a good, old-fashioned TU noggin cover, like the one pictured below, we can make that happen, too.
Everybody needs a good fishing hat. Here’s your chance to break in a new one by showing us your old one.