Since 1492, when Dame Juliana Berners introduced fly fishing to English nobility, our sport has been popular among the cultural elite.
Or, as radio host Rush Limbaugh calls them, the “arts and croissants crowd.”
But here in Central Louisiana — the heart of Cajun Redneck Country — fly fishing is also popular among those of us in the “ham and crossiants crowd.” Heavy on the ham. Even heavier on the croissants.
It’s not that we’re not cultured. We listen to opera — Grand Ol’ Opry. Our library shelves include the works of Jeff Foxworthy and former NASCAR driver Mark Martin. And we collect art —mostly images of dogs, even some involved in a game of cards.
We only wish that “culture” included fly fishing for bream.
While our sport has been depicted in more art, film and literature than all other outdoors-related activities, the vast bulk of the contributions have been regarding coldwater species — such as trout and salmon — not found in our waters.
For example, I can name at least five movies that had some fly fishing for trout, and three that featured it in the storyline (“A River Runs Through It,” “The River Wild,” “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”).
When it comes to gobbules — my favorite terminology for sunfish — I can’t think of a single film where anyone fished for them with any kind of tackle.
Doesn’t our state have a film commission? I think it’s time they right this wrong.
Longtime readers of this column know of my passion for gobbules. They are colorful, readily eat flies, and put up a spirited fight once hooked. They are found in areas of great natural beauty: swamps, creeks, hilly lakes rimmed with flowering plants.
This month I’ll be casting my five-weight (perhaps even a three-weight) in many waters from Lake Verret to Lake D’Arbonne. All the time thinking about how those moments could be immortalized in canvas or composition.
If you’re looking to enhance your home, camp or office with artwork featuring our favorite freshwater species, artists such as Jerome Hebert of Youngsville, Ron Kidwell of Stonewall, and Melanie Douhit of West Monroe can provide an alternative to the countless galleries of trout.
As for literature, it’s nearly all instructional. Roger Stouff of Charenton might be the only author whose fictional material includes fly fishing for sunfish.
When it comes to poetry, it’s barren. Certainly no works of tribute like Christian Schubart’s “The Trout.”
But that’s about to change. Citizens of planet Earth, I give you my contribution, which I call “Ode to Gobbule:”
What is this thing that comes into view,
that sits on the water and does not move?
It looks like the bug I ate last night,
but it does not quiver or go into flight.
Should I sit back and let my brethren get
such an easy meal, or I may regret
losing such an opportunity and yet
what if this thing is counterfeit?
Oh, no, the clan is heading there in droves
heading for the bug that does not move.
My last chance for such an easy meal.
Here goes — GULP — what’s this I feel?
It’s a hook, oh, I’ve been so dumb.
Must fight for my life, or else it’s done.
I struggle and tug and head for a tree,
but the beast this time has the better of me
Out of the water, the hook comes out.
The beast looks down, a sound from it’s mouth,
“Thanks, Gobbule, thanks for the fight.”
He puts me into the water and I swim out of sight.
If you enjoyed this, please feel free to send it and a recommendation for award to the Pulitzer Committee for Poetry, c/o Columbia University, 709 Pulitzer Hall, New York 10027.