Sharp Little Hooks

With the wisdom of a stream’s biggest fish and the whim of an anecdotal angler, Sharp Little Hooks (2014) sheds new light on the old-school art of fly fishing. The recording features The Blue Ribbons—James Rohr, Mike Castellana, Jef Charland, and Tauras Biscus—and is available as a 12” vinyl record, CD, and digital download.

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With the wisdom of a stream’s biggest fish and the whim of an anecdotal angler, Sharp Little Hooks (2014) sheds new light on the old-school art of fly fishing. The recording features The Blue Ribbons—James Rohr, Mike Castellana, Jef Charland, and Tauras Biscus—and is available as a 12” vinyl record, CD, and digital download.

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Ten & Two

Leave the stream, come back again
A rod tip whips from two to ten
A bead head prince’s big debut
Makes its way from ten to two
Makes its way from ten to two

Browns near the spillway now and then
Rod tip flips from two to ten
A few more lines before you’re through
Nothing but time between ten and two
There’s nothing but time between ten and two

Streamside maestro, roll again
Then conduct a line ’tween two and ten
A rod, an arm, a pas de deux
Timed just so ’tween ten and two
Timed just so ’tween ten and two

Gliding like a favorite fountain pen
With a flicking rod from two to ten
Lines unfold the way they do
Across the stream from ten to two
Across the stream from ten to two

The wilds rise but they won’t say when
Nothing lingers ’tween two and ten
Alas, we are just passing through
One more time from ten to two
One more time from ten to two

At last, the scene’s complete again
Like a fly rod gracing two and ten
Read the rocks like wilds do
Keep the rod ’tween ten and two
Keep the rod ’tween ten and two

×

The Woolly Bugger’s Hairy Mary Blues

If I were her Woolly Bugger
I would’ve been one happy caddis.
I didn’t bother flirting with hand-tied nymphs
because Hairy Mary was the loveliest.

She had black silk string between silver ribs
a little wisp of sky blue feather
and paintbrush-soft bucktail wings.
We would have been good together.

Hairy Mary was wrapped for salmon.
I’m a Woolly Bugger tied for trout.
Hairy Mary had her hooks in me
but she didn’t see us working out.

I begged Hairy Mary to be my love
a Woolly Bugger’s only wish.
She left me hanging on a white fly patch
watching her land bigger fish.

I asked Hairy Mary to be my wife
and told her how nice life could be.
No, she never even let me woolly bug her.
She never would settle for the likes of me.

Hairy Mary was wrapped for salmon.
I’m a Woolly Bugger tied for trout.
Hairy Mary had her hooks in me
but she didn’t see us working out.

Suffice to say, I missed my window
when she set her hook and some salmon ran.
The line went tight. The rod tip shimmied
like some shifty, shaking hand.

And all at once, the rod snapped straight.
Her tippet didn’t hold.
The salmon she chose over me
decided she’s a keeper, or so I’m told.

That lucky-assed salmon stole my Hairy Mary.
I learned the hard way both things I know:
Hairy Mary’s a mighty nice catch
and she may never let me go.

Hairy Mary was wrapped for salmon.
I’m a Woolly Bugger tied for trout.
Hairy Mary had her hooks in me
but she didn’t see us working out.

×

Weekending

Two tired eyes and a busy mind
rounded up all the calm they could find.
The rainbows rose. The whisky was neat.
But the angling remained incomplete.

The sleep was deeper up in Michigan.
The Lower Manistee beckoned me again
to tie a fly and find my feet
because the angling remained incomplete.

It only takes a Monday or a downtown street
to keep the angling incomplete.

Back in town, I took my licks.
They’re nothing the Lower Manistee can’t fix.
So I laid a straight line, refused to taste defeat
with the cherries coming in and the angling incomplete.

×

The Keepers

Fly line gathers
Fly line gathers in the grass
Fly line gathers in the grass by Slagle’s stream

There may be browns
Maybe browns along the riffle
Maybe browns along the riffle or rainbows in the seam

The keepers didn’t get that way
By rising on the first line
The keepers didn’t get that way
By rising on any old line I lay

Thread and hackle
Thread and hackle wrap
Thread and hackle wrap ’round hooks and fashion flies

In its own
In its own good time
In its own good time some wild’s bound to rise

The keepers didn’t get that way
By rising on the first line
The keepers didn’t get that way
By rising on any old line I lay

The spillway
The spillway spills precisely
The spillway spills precisely as it should

Right now the wilds
Right now the wilds would be winking
The wilds would be winking if they could

The keepers didn’t get that way
By rising on the first line
The keepers didn’t get that way
By rising on any old line I lay

Just a stream rod
Just a stream rod for the Slagle
Just a stream rod for the Slagle where we

Go to gather
Go to gather all the calm
Go to gather all the calm I can carry

The keepers didn’t get that way
By rising on the first line
The keepers didn’t get that way
By rising on any old line I lay

×

Troutsong

In my day, I’d have chased you.
Back when I was too small to keep
I could rise as I please.
I was catch and release
but now I just pretend to sleep.

You’re alluring like a mayfly
freshly fallen from the big, blue skies.
It’s anyone’s guess.
You might be breakfast
but you might be banks in disguise.

Along you came, a-gracing my river
The way mayflies sometimes do.
There’s something about you
I’m better without
you might be too good to be true.

Something about you seems fishy
suppose I should let you by.
The lost ones believe
everything they see
but I don’t think you’re a mayfly.

Just the same, you look delicious
drifting past this rock like a dream
where sidelong looks
hide sharp little hooks
and currents carry you downstream.

In my day, I’d have chased you.
Back when I was too small to keep
I could rise as I please.
I was catch and release
but now I just pretend to sleep.

×

Dry Flies

The darkness was just as it seems
I’m clutching shadowy shirttails as we
made our way back after angling the stream
where brother, ’twas too dark to see

The not-quite-storm clouds covered the moon
Isn’t dark always an hour too soon
Yes, I left my flies in the trees
where brother, ’twas too dark to see

A Tuesday unplugged and abandoned
Though we came home empty-handed
the long since dried flies
that our old man hand ties
are now lost to the reeds ’long the stream
where brother, ’twas too dark to see

You’ll find some woods to get lost in
I’ll catch that old jet plane from Boston
We’ll hang like the flies
and the hooks they disguise
when we meet by the oxbow next spring
and fish till we can’t see a damn thing

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