Work on my novel is getting down to nuts and bolts, and I've had to reach out to libraries, photo galleries, books and even take a couple road trips in order to clarify the facts. It's not enough to write by experience if your facts are mis-aligned.
This week, the focus is fishing. My personal experiences are many and varied. I fished as a child with my father, then with my brothers, and now with my husband and my own children. Years ago, I was dumped by a boy I was dating after we went fishing together and I caught more fish than he did (3 - 0). And once I lost an enormous brook trout for my husband after he had played it in to the shore where I failed to net it before it flipped out into the waterway, gone forever—reasonable grounds for divorce, our friend Big Danny advised my husband.
The shortcomings of my memories are that they are attuned to the broad experience. In order to take the Wildish boys, my family of characters, fishing with their father, I needed a more accurate vision of the fish and the language of those who are the artists of their craft—the real fishermen.
Off to Powell's with a specific book title recommended by my youngest brother, Scott, who holds the esteem of being a real fisherman. Powell's has an entire section for fishing, and then sub-sections: fishing in the northwest, trout fishing, fly fishing, fly fishing for trout, and (my target) fly fishing for steelhead in the northwest. Advanced Fly Fishing for Steelhead by Deke Meyer. The author is a local expert and has written in particular about the steelhead on the Stillaguamish.
I browsed several books on trout, including Trout: an illustrated history by James Prosek. Inside the pages, a folded article "For Bigger Trout" by Tom McNally, Outdoor Life, May 1957. Of course, I bought the book.
In 1957, The Wildish boys' father, Abraham Leonard Wildish, was 21 years old. He was still living in Indiana with his family, never dreaming that his life would go to hell seven ways from Sunday over the next couple of years. Naive to the changes that would alter his life forever, he probably even read this particular article, his only aspiration to become the greatest of all fishermen.
Coincidence? I'm not a believer. But I believe in universal connection, the convergence of thought to reality, collective conscience, the repercussions of a lifted butterfly wing. Call it what you will.
Today's gift from Mr. McNally:
"As every fisherman who has chucked flies or dunked bait in a trout stream knows, big trout like big mouthfuls. Fishing records go on to prove that wherever large trout are caught on flies. . ."