Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Trout Canoe Odyssey

I guess it's been a couple months since I first saw the photographs in this post of the brook trout painted canoe that James Deloria did and asked if he'd share the story behind it for this post.  James sent along the narrative this weekend and I am honored to post it here as "Frenchman's Pond" is a hallowed place in my mind and this canoe, and it's connection to Rusty Gates, is a very neat part of the story there.

James Deloria wrote...  "Early last year I was up at “Frenchman’s Pond”; John Voelker’s infamous bailiwick.  The pond and surrounding property are now co-owned by John’s son-in-law Ernie Woods (Woody) and his grandson Adam Tsaloff.  Lounging around one evening we got talking about the old Grumman aluminum canoe tethered up ready for action.  Woody told me how when Rusty Gates was up a few years prior he brought the boat up to donate to the compound. I suspect that it was as much a gesture of memoriam to John as it was in thanks to Woody for having him up to visit such storied holy water. 

The next morning after thinking it over I talked to Woody about donating my expertise to add my reverence to both men and that spiritual place.  Two anglers who have had a great influence on me and my attitudes about our sport.  We quickly agreed that I would pick up the boat on my way back from Minnesota the following fall and do one of my trout paintings on the craft.  There was, of course, no need for discussion as to which of our “little darlings” would grace the boat.  Speckled square tail was the only choice. 

I had done one other brook trout up until then and was dis-pleased enough with it that when the owner of the canoe moved to Florida in search of salty prey, I re-did it as a snook.  Since then I have done rainbow, brown, laker, and even a perch for a worm dunker buddie of mine.  But no brookie.  I knew it was going to be a bit of a challenge but with the inspiration of two legends to fuel my creative juices I launched in. 

As with most of my fellow artists, art is more a verb than a noun.  The experience of painting that canoe will always stand as one of great joy.  I remembered the stories of Traver and how I had read them over and over as a young trout fisherman wanting to find every secret between every line that I could glean.  I thought of Rusty and all the dandies he finessed over the years as well as his ability to let you think that he was giving you all of his secrets. 

The boat went through a couple of iterations before I was finally happy with it and was delivered back to Woody’s care late in the summer.  I now own two enviable records on dear old “Frenchman’s”;  I still hold title to largest chub taken out of the pond on a dry fly.  And now I have title to largest brookie put in the pond! My heart soars like a hawk!!  I think and hope that John and Rusty approve." very well done.  This brook trout canoe is a true gift in the memories of both John Voelker and Rusty Gates.

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