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December 06 , 2008

Tales of Fishes


     Been to Avalon with Grey ... been most everywhere;

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     Chummed with him and fished with him in every Sportsman's


     Helped him with the white Sea-bass and Barracuda haul,

     Shared the Tuna's sprayful sport and heard his Hunter-call,

     Me an' Grey are fishin' friends.... Pals of rod and reel,

     Whether it's the sort that fights ... or th' humble eel,

     On and on, through Wonderland ... winds a-blowin' free,

     Catching all th' fins that grow ... Sportsman Grey an' Me.


     Been to Florida with Zane ... scouting down th' coast;

     Whipped the deep for Tarpon, too, that natives love th' most.

     Seen the smiling, Tropic isles that pass, in green review,

     Gathered cocoanut and moss where Southern skies were blue.

     Seen him laugh that boyish laugh, when things were goin'


     Helped him beach our little boat and kindle fires at night.

     Comrades of the Open Way, the Treasure-Trove of Sea,

     Port Ahoy and who cares where, with Mister Grey an' Me!


     Been to Western lands with Grey ... hunted fox and deer.

     Seen the Grizzly's ugly face with danger lurkin' near.

     Slept on needles, near th' sky, and marked th' round moon


     Over purpling peaks of snow that hurt a fellow's eyes.

     Gone, like Indians, under brush and to some mystic place –

     Home of red men, long since gone, to join their dying race.

     Yes ... we've chummed it, onward – outward ... mountain,

       wood, and Key,

     At the quiet readin'-table ... Sportsman Grey an' Me.



* * *






* * *








To capture the fish is not all of the fishing. Yet there are

circumstances which make this philosophy hard to accept. I have in mind

an incident of angling tribulation which rivals the most poignant

instant of my boyhood, when a great trout flopped for one sharp moment

on a mossy stone and then was gone like a golden flash into the depths

of the pool.


Some years ago I followed Attalano, my guide, down the narrow Mexican

street of Tampico to the bank of the broad Panuco. Under the rosy dawn

the river quivered like a restless opal. The air, sweet with the song of

blackbird and meadowlark, was full of cheer; the rising sun shone in

splendor on the water and the long line of graceful palms lining the

opposite bank, and the tropical forest beyond, with its luxuriant

foliage festooned by gray moss. Here was a day to warm the heart of any

fisherman; here was the beautiful river, celebrated in many a story;

here was the famous guide, skilled with oar and gaff, rich in

experience. What sport I would have; what treasure of keen sensation

would I store; what flavor of life would I taste this day! Hope burns

always in the heart of a fisherman.


Attalano was in harmony with the day and the scene. He had a cheering

figure, lithe and erect, with a springy stride, bespeaking the Montezuma

blood said to flow in his Indian veins. Clad in a colored cotton shirt,

blue jeans, and Spanish girdle, and treading the path with brown feet

never deformed by shoes, he would have stopped an artist. Soon he bent

his muscular shoulders to the oars, and the ripples circling from each

stroke hardly disturbed the calm Panuco. Down the stream glided long

Indian canoes, hewn from trees and laden with oranges and bananas. In

the stern stood a dark native wielding an enormous paddle with ease.

Wild-fowl dotted the glassy expanse; white cranes and pink flamingoes

graced the reedy bars; red-breasted kingfishers flew over with friendly

screech. The salt breeze kissed my cheek; the sun shone with the

comfortable warmth Northerners welcome in spring; from over the white

sand-dunes far below came the faint boom of the ever-restless Gulf.

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