January 22, 2014 —
When I wrote my last column in August, I was very concerned about the wellbeing of my best fishing partner, Barbara Ann. It seems that while I was expecting a fastball, life was about to throw me a nasty curve. In the last six weeks, Barbara’s blood work has improved to the point where she takes her chronic myeloid leukemia medication just every other day. Meanwhile, my own physical condition has deteriorated so badly that I will not be doing any pitching in Clem’s Quiz, come the opening of baseball season. I have lost the hop on my fastball, while my curves hang oh so temptingly as they approach the batter. Nevertheless, my desire to continue to write The Complete Tangler columns has not left me. However, as Rush Limbaugh often says, “You need to live in Realville.”
I have to face the fact that even with a wading staff, I can no longer wade in moving water. Yes, while my little wading raft is somewhat helpful, carrying it down to many of my fishing spots is no easy task. My sense of balance is so poor I can darn near fall down while standing still. Walking any distance on dry ground, such as a path alongside a stream, is a struggle. Even then, I am slower than a turtle. I am aware after having both played and coached the game of basketball that intense desire can lead to unexpected success, even when faced with long odds. I am also reminded that Icarus had a strong desire to fly. That did not end very well.
A new wordsmith will shortly be spinning these fishing essays. The tune may be different, but the lyrics will be familiar. I hope he will find as much pleasure working for the newspaper as I did. I will take a moment to leave him with some advice.
It took me a while to realize that a number of my readers were not fly fishers or were only marginally so. Beware of getting too far into the weeds, using fly fishing jargon. A simple explanation may be necessary, so that your writing does not become mere gibberish to some of these readers.
Be discreet when describing where you have been fishing. Otherwise you may receive a complaint from a landowner, or perhaps even withdrawal of permission to access a river form his property.
Describe casts as merely being long rather than claiming a specific number of feet. Let your readers fill in the blank. At the Hardy-Grey’s Cup Casting Contest last September, John Shaner told me that less than 1% of the casters were able to cast 60 feet. These folks were casting standing on dry ground, not up to their hips in running water. Any hint of exaggeration will bring a snort of disbelief from many of your readers. Do not try to gild the lily.
Be sure to get your column to the editor on time, lest she suffer a nervous breakdown. Submitting more than 600 words will earn you a rap on your knuckles from the editor.
At some point you will learn that your words have offended someone. Be of good cheer. After all, that person was actually reading your column.
The Tangler, Willy Landem, Split Cane and the gang all wish you good luck.
My only regret after 253 columns is that my old English teacher at the Bronx High School of Science, Miss Dorothy Frank, never learned that the boy she once considered her worst pupil ever, was now being paid for writing essays.