Friday, February 19, 2010

An historical and inspirational poem

Old Time Salmon Fishing

Written in 1925 by John Cossboom, renowned American angler and originator of the famous ‘Cossboom’ series of flies.

Did you ever cast for salmon in the spring,
For the big bright shining fish fresh from the sea,
With the leaping strength and vigor that they bring
To the swollen flood-fed river running free?

Did you ever feel the fever in your blood
When a dirty cold Nor’easter threatened rain,
And you smelled the river clearing after flood,
And you sensed the salmon in the pools again?

Did you never wield a rod of eighteen feet –
A Leonard, old, with handles wound with cane –
The “Church of England” rods we used to meet,
Swung by anglers of the old school without strain?

Did you ever use a cast of Hebra size?
Did you ever cast a sixty-thousandths line?
Did you ever tie on Durham Ranger flies –
Big 5/0 flies, and cast them in the wind?

Did you ever see a wave behind your fly
And know it for a fish of monstrous size,
And when that wave exploded two feet high,
Feel your great rod bend near double to the rise?

Did you ever have a guide yell in your face,
When your salmon surged across the heavy pool
And dragged your rod down level with your waist,
“Keep your tip up, or you’ll lose him, you dumb fool!”?

Did you ever race along the slippery shore
With your rod held high and bended to the fray,
While down across the rushing pool he tore
And jumped two hundred feet and more away?

Did you ever feel your rod and line go slack,
And cry, “He’s gone!”, in disappointed pain,
And when you found he’d only started back,
Did you madly reel the strain on him again?

Did you ever think you had him tired out,
When his tail began to show above the stream?
Did you ever think him yours without a doubt
Till he rushed and made your old reel fairly scream?

Did you ever back up slowly on the beach
And draw him gently toward the waiting guide,
Then have him stop and stay just out of reach,
And chug those scary chugs from side to side?

Do you recall that long last surging plunge
That took him up and out across the tide,
And how you swung him back down to the lunge
That sank the gaff into his silver side?

Do you recall your fervent thankful prayer,
As his forty pounds lay shining at your feet,
To the Red Gods who had smiled on you so fair,
To the Red Gods who had made your joy complete?

That’s the fishing that they called a “Sport of kings” –
When thet fished in swollen rivers’ springtime flow
For the big bright shining fish of other Springs,
With that heavy rugged gear of long ago!

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