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Tales from the Tirol – Part 2 of 6

May 23, 2014

This is the second installment of Tales from the Tirol.

So what do the Tirol and fly fishing have to do with one another? Nothing, as I painfully learned. I am a fly fisherman by birthright and 60 years of uninterrupted practice. It is a practice that has not made me perfect by a long shot but one that has nonetheless provided my soul with needed restoration throughout my life.

When we arrived in our new home in the South Tirol twelve years ago, I brought a complete complement of 16 fly rods and at least a half dozen of every fly pattern known to man. I figure that at least 15 percent of our entire shipping weight was comprised of fishing stuff. And now, it has all been re-shipped back to the United States. What happened in between? The answer in short is that I learned three very important things.

The first lesson was simple. I immediately learned that people don’t fly fish in Europe to any real great extent. Yes, there are a few but very few indeed. Why? The answer is simple: It costs too much to fish. One has to obtain a lifetime fishing license which is easy enough, but then comes the kicker. You also have to buy a Tageskarte or permesso di giorgno (day permit) in advance for each section of each river you intend to fish. These day permits range from 15 to 20 Euro ($20 to $26) apiece, so after I did the math I was able to answer the question very quickly. Nobody including me has the dough!

 The second thing I learned is that comparing northern Italy’s waters to those of our previous home in Oregon is like pitting David against Goliath sans the slingshot. The streams in this part of Italy are very steep and were stripped of most of their native fisheries centuries ago by greedy counts and feuding municipalities. Stocking programs are scarce and are reserved for the most part for plunking lakes where a fellow in his eighties can go to sleep in a chair and eventually awake with dinner on the end of his line. There’s nothing quite as yummy as a factory fish after all!

The third thing I learned was a bit more complex. Often after coming home from an unproductive day hurling flies at stubborn European trout, I would muse at memories from my past in California and Oregon and specifically the many streams that I had fished in both locations. It wasn’t just the raw juxtaposition of fishing venues; rather, I was beginning to see a heretofore unseen path on which my fishing had taken me. By my recollection, I began to fish when I was perhaps four or five years old. Fly fishing in particular was the name of the game and I was instructed by one of the very best, my father. In my new home in Italy, my mind shuffled through the years that I had spent with rod in hand. The things that immediately jumped out of these thoughts were not the fish but rather the people whom I had spent time with while fishing. This may seem like a silly epiphany to arrive at after over a half a century but I was bolstered by finding my way on life’s path again and so I set about writing a new book, The Blackest of Canyons, to convey the trip I had been on but had only recently fully appreciated. Here, high in the Tirol, the footsteps of my past finally found the hidden path. Sometimes, you just have to get out of your own way to understand.

Today, I’m just pulling away in my car from a local stream here in North Carolina, not far from where I now live. I think about the Tirol, now certainly covered by night and then I look back for one last glance at today’s stream. Like Dorothy transitioning from the land of Oz, I hear myself mumbling over and over again, “There’s no place like home!”

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This book is available on Amazon.com as an e-book for only $2.99. The print version will be available internationally in the fall of 2014. You can reach me anytime at www.allenrizzi.weebly.com where you can also find a complete book listing and other information.

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