Published Sep 15. 1996 - 25 years ago
Updated or edited Aug 17. 2021

My float tube is a Sputnik

Floating poetry

This small story was mailed medio september 1996 to both the U.S. and European flyfishing mailing lists.


First we said: "The water is too cold. Our beloved friend - silverside of the salt - the sea trout will come when the water gets warmer". And then we caught a few garfish.

Then we said: "The water is too warm. Our long missed sea trout - whose splashing in light summer nights is the wet in our dreams - will come when the water gets just a wee bit colder". And the we tried to catch a few mullets.

Now we say: "The wind is too northern. Our well earned sea trout, whose revealing shadow we miss on the sand under shallow clear water, will come when the wind comes from the south." And the we caught a few cod.

This summer has been a lousy one - trout fishing wise that is. Started out as cold as a Siberian salt mine and ended up as warm as a Moroccan oasis. And now... as wet and windy as a London shopping day.
The last good days were just after Easter. I have friends that each caught sixty good sea runs in a few days in the fjords - a very respectable number in these parts of the world. Those of us that were tied down by pay checks and diapers missed all the fun. And when we eventually had negotiated a few days of liberty... it was over!

We spent hours and hours on the open coast in pursuit of loose scales and sharp fins. But the trout were gone and haven't been seen since. No one has a good explanation - on the contrary: most people expected a season that would go over in history as one of the best. The winter had been long and the ocean ice covered. That means no fishing - neither with rods or nets. We expected that to lead to great numbers of hungry fish. The cold water should have given us a long spring season before the water got too warm for a trout to feel good.

The first man to walk the moon in flippers... or is that swim?
The first man to walk the moon in flippers... or is that swim?
Martin Joergensen

But none of this seemed to hold. The water *was* cold, but there were no fish. The summer did come, but there were still no fish. And as I write this the water seems ideal for sea run browns, but still there are almost no fish. No rumors, no reports, no pictures, no revealing scales on clothes or cork.
But that won't keep a die hard fisherman from going fishing. My float tube wants to live in my car, and urges me to drive it around and show it the countryside, beaches and best trout waters. I have to do it. Who can say no to a float tube?

So late one sunny but windy Sunday we pack up for the first time in a long time. I put the soft inner tube inside the heavy cordura - the tube has had a major overhaul - and dump it in the trunk and put my bag in the back of the car.
The wind is still north, turning northwest. If I hadn't been so hungry for fish I would have stayed at home. Everybody else does. I haven't been able to find anybody that wants to go. "Nah, not in that wind", "No thanks, not today", "Too bad, but we have guests". But that won't keep a die hard fisherman at home. I'm leaving.

I head for the fjord. Maybe I can be the first guy to meet this autumn's large schools of migrating fish in the bottom of the fjord. The tube gets fresh air on a gas station and I find the water, park, dress, rig, walk and enter the water. It doesn't look good. The summer - even this late - sets off a flowering of algea on the sea weed, and the water is foamy and murky thanks to the strange wind. I almost loose a fin in the soft muddy bottom. I don't really believe this. Even though I have one strike - definitely a trout - I decide that one hour is more than enough. I pack and get ready to go on.
It's 5 in the afternoon, the cloud cover is breaking and the sun peeps through. As I drive for the west coast and the calm water south of a peninsula, I feel the warmth of the late summer sun. As I drive in to park, I can the the water beneath me - whoa! It looks great. The dark band under land seems covered by water a bit muddy, but further out I can see patches of dark and sand though the glass clear, lightly riffled water. I can't wait to get out there.

I enter the water...
I enter another universe.
My tube is a sputnik suspended in the space above a lunar surface of sand and stone.
I'm the astronaut.
The clear water is my vacuum.
I turn on my mental time lock and make the first cast.
Who was talking about fish?



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