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The Secret Life of RiverTrash

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Ronan's report


Wednesday 3rd October, 2007

"First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys. Not that all months aren't rare. But there be bad and good, as the pirates say." - Ray Bradbury in Something Wicked this Way Comes

Welcome to October, a rare and good month indeed, especially here in steelhead country. But enough about that. We talked about Fall, or Autumn as some call it, last time. This time we're talking about RiverTrash. That is, all the bits of discarded rubbish that somehow end up in the river, where it doesn't belong.

This past weekend on a popular section of river, I lucked into some unbelievable steelhead fishing. Around noon on Sunday, I reeled up my line, completely satisfied with my time on the river and the wonderful fish that I experienced. As I often do after a great day on the water, I took some time on the walk out to pick up trash.

During this session, I got to wondering where some of the items came from and who might have so carelessly discarded them. For example, the pair of sneakers, placed neatly together on a small sandy beach. What happened to their owner? It was a cold, rainy day, and I was alone on the river save a couple of other hardy steelheaders. Did they come up here yesterday when the sun was shining and just forget to put their shoes back on? Another very odd find was an aluminum baseball bat, tattered from several seasons in the river and recently washed ashore or tossed there by someone who pulled it from the water. Evidence of a riverside ballgame cut short by some unfortunate incident? Perhaps an oversized tool that someone was planning to use on an unsuspecting fish?

Along with these odd items was plenty of the usual stuff. Beer cans, tangled wads of nylon monofilament fishing line, and the cardboard and plastic packaging that once held shiny new lures called "Blue Fox" or "Renegade". Gear anglers often get a bad wrap as litterers of the stream. And while leaving these things on the stream to tangle up an unsuspecting bird, or snake or fellow angler is clearly inappropriate, I wondered if fly anglers would be just as trashy if our sport was one that regularly produced such large amounts of noticeable refuse. I also wondered what the designers, sellers, and manufacturers of the beer and fishing lures would think if they saw evidence of their products littering the shores of an otherwise beautiful river. Would they consider it inappropriate, and a poor reflection on their business, or would they be consider it free advertising for their products?

I never settled on the answers to these questions hidden in the secret lives of rivertrash. In a way, I don't want to know. I have a feeling the answers may be even uglier than the pieces of trash are themselves.

Until next time,

Cheers,
Matt

PS - Over on the Board, you should check out this nice thread about the next angling book you should read.


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