Friday, April 18, 2014

Fish or Cut Bait or Teach

Photo by John Campbell. Click photo to see text.
Four summers ago I taught a writing class at Columbia Gorge Community College in The Dalles so I could fish The Deschutes River.  The class had a big window overlooking The Gorge.  It was magical.  I loved the summer steelhead, redsides, smallmouth bass, and teaching among the wonderful people and students at that college.  I was a contender for their full-time English professor job a while back so I put a line in the water thinking they may hire me for the part-time gig.

A year ago, and seven years ago, I did sabbatical work at Pacific University's Residency-only M. F. A. Program in Seaside, Oregon, partly to catch winter steelhead.  I caught the two above at sunrise just before my creative nonfiction workshop taught by the smart and humorous Craig Lesley, author of the novel The Sky Fisherman.  The photo above ended up in Pacific's M. F. A. brochure I found wandering the tables at AWP 2014 in Seattle, oddly thinking maybe I should be fishing for late-run winter steelhead.

The idea of combining fishing with my job may have come when I read how Jack Hemmingway, author of Misadventures of a Fly Fisherman and son of Noble Prize-winner Ernest, "managed to smuggle his fly rod along on his [WWII] French mission and was almost captured while trout fishing" according to New York Times writer Paul Schullery.

Then again, maybe the idea came when I was a deckhand off Depoe Bay, Oregon, saw a wedding party offshore on the mighty Tradewinds Kingfisher, and wondered aloud, "Man, there is a truly great tiderip moving toward them.  It's probably full of salmon.  What's wrong with dropping a baited hoochie and flasher into the sea?  The poles are right there."

It's nearly killing me now to be in San Diego during spring chinook season, but, unfortunately, tenured professorships in creative writing in Oregon are nearly as rare as barcodes on wild chinook.  Maybe if I spent more time writing, and less time fishing, some day in the distant future I may have a chance. Nah.

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