Fishing The True Cast Trout Talk

The True Cast - Make 2024 a year to “Accentuate the Positive”

We live in a cynical world. 

Probably more cynical, these days, than when Tom Cruise first uttered that line in the motion picture “Jerry Maguire” nearly 30 years ago. 

I’m not going to talk about politics, because that disgusts me too much.

I wonder, however, where the tipping point was that turned everything from honoring things like virtue and honor and truth… to “what’s in it for me?” and “who’s out to get me?” and “we stink less than they do” as the bases to appeal to mass audiences.

I am truly saddened, sometimes, to see so much media rooted in criticism, cutting people down, and so forth, rather than looking at the good. We should appreciate good more. Because there’s plenty of good in this world.

That’s especially true when it comes to something that might seem as trivial as fishing. Fishing can and should be a haven of good in a turbulent world. Fishing can and should bring out the best in people.

Fish live in beautiful places like this high mountain stream.

After all most fish live in beautiful places—from vast ocean flats to high alpine rivers and many places in-between. The reward of feeling a fish tug on the end of my line—which still lights me up like it did when I was a little boy—is often secondary to the growing appreciation I feel for just having the opportunity to take pause and look around when I’m somewhere out there.

I remember one fishing story in particular that underscored my belief in the overwhelming good in humankind. Fishing a river that ran through the Bolivian jungle, I was with two South American friends when we got caught in a raging thunderstorm. The wind whipped the river into a washboard of haystack rapids, and lightning bolts arced above the jungle canopy. It grew darker and darker, and although we were pressing downstream, the gale blew right in our faces, and the stretch of river that might normally take 15 minutes to cover took over two hours. Right when we’d about had enough, I noticed tiny lights twinkling like fireflies through the pelting rain. Every male member of the indigenous village had come to the river with a headlamp or torch to help us, and when we reached them, they carried our gear up to the village, dried us by a fire and gave us food. This, despite no common language, no common culture, only universally understood facial expressions and smiles.

She is smiling despite not even understanding the feeling of delight when catching a fish yet.

Maybe it’s the smile of a child who just caught their first fish, or the friendly wave of a stranger in a drift boat on the river… maybe it’s the dozen flies that get left in the “fly library” by the lake, or the people who roll rocks, pick up trash, and plant trees to make rivers healthier who account for the “good” you can find in fishing. Maybe it’s the beautiful, intricate, patterns on fish themselves, or the mystery of how a salmon can live in the ocean and then swim hundreds of miles or more to a spot in a river within feet of where it was born to complete the life cycle. Maybe it’s a bit of all of those things.

TU is pretty adept at accentuating the positive

When I do let tones of criticism or cynicism creep into my own writings on fishing (I know I’m prone to get on a soap box now and then) I guess it’s because I cannot help but express disappointment in the disrespect—disrespect for other people, disrespect for the planet, disrespect for other living creatures, disrespect for the traditions and community—that seems to be so much more “accepted” these days than I ever remember.

But I’ve decided I’m not going to dwell on the negative. I’m going to go out of my way to accentuate the positive.

My late grandmother planted this seed years ago. Grandma lived to a fairly ripe old age, and near the end, she harkened back to an old song from 1944, which she would sing.

Gotta accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative…latch on to the affirmative, and don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.”

Rock rolling, or in this case, dumping, brings positivity to the people and the fish.

This, from a woman who had lived through her own hardships, the Great Depression, two World Wars, epidemics like swine flu and polio, the Cuban Missile Crisis, numerous social upheavals, and on, and on…

Now decades after she passed away, what I really remember her for, was how much she unconditionally loved her family, her farm-style cooking (you’ve never had a better lemon-meringue pie), her appreciation of song and music… in other words, the positive stuff.

I’d venture to guess that decades from now, as screwed up as the world might seem today, what will be remembered most are the good things, so long as we’re willing to do a bit more to “accentuate the positive” and love (or at least like) each other, respect each other and go from there. 

For me, that starts with fishing, and it starts now.