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Part 3 of Trout Fishing in America Analysis
Author: story of Richard Brautigan
TROUT DEATH BY PORT WINE
It was not an outhouse resting upon the imagination.
It was reality.
An eleven-inch rainbow trout was killed. Its life taken
forever from the waters of the earth, by giving it a drink of
It is against the natural order of death for a trout to die
by having a drink of port wine.
It is all right for a trout to have its neck broken by a fisherman
and then to be tossed into the creel or for a trout to die from
a fungus that crawls like sugar-colored ants over its body
until the trout is in death's sugarbowl.
It is all right for a trout to be trapped in a pool that dries
up in the late summer or to be caught in the talons of a bird
or the claws of an animal.
Yes, it is even all right for a trout to be killed by pollution,
to die in a river of suffocating human excrement.
There are trout that die of old age and their white beards
flow to the sea.
All these things are in the natural order of death, but for
a trout to die from a drink of port wine, that is another thing.
No mention of it in "The treatyse of fysshynge wyth an
angle," in the Boke of St. Albans, published 1496. No mention
of it in Minor Tactics of the Chalk Stream, by H. C. Cutcliffe,
published in 1910. No mention of it in Truth Is Stranger than Fishin',
by Beatrice Cook, published in 1955. No mention of it in
Northern Memoirs, by Richard Franck, published in 1694.
No mention of it in I Go A-Fishing, by W. C. Prime, published
in 1873. No mention of it in Trout Fishing and Trout Flies, by Jim
Quick, published in 1957. No mention of it in Certaine Experiments
Concerning Fish and Fruite, by John Taverner, published in 1600.
No mention of it in A River Never Sleeps, by Roderick L. Haig Brown,
published in 1946. No mention of it in Till Fish US Do Part, by Beatrice
Cook published in 1949. No mention of it in The Flyfisher & the
Trout's Point of View by Col. E.W.Harding, published
in 1931. No mention of it in Chalk Stream Studies, by Charles
Kingsley, published in 1859 No mention of it in Trout Madness
by Robert Traver, published in 1960.
No mention of it in Sunshine and the Dry Fly, by J. W.
Dunne, published in 1924. No mention of it in Just Fishing,
by Ray Bergman, published in 1932. No mention of it in Matching
the Hatch by Ernest G. Schwiebert, Jr,, published in 1955. No mention
of it in The Art of Trout Fishing on Rapid Streams by H. C. Cutcliffe,
published in 1863. No mention of it in Old Flies in New Dresses by
C.E. Walker, published in 1898 No mention of it in Fisherman's
Spring, by Roderick L, Haig-Brown, published in 1951.
No mention of it in The Determined angler and the Brook Trout,
by Charles Bradford, published in 1916. No mention of it in Women
Can Fish by Chisie Farrington, published in 1951. No mention
of it in Tales of the Angler's El Dorado New new Zeland
by Zane Grey, published in 1926. No mention of it in The Flyfisher's
Guide, by G.C. Bainbridge, published in 1816.
There's no mention of a trout dying by having a drink of
port wine anywhere.
To describe the Supreme Executioner: We woke up in the
morning and it was dark outside. He came kind of smiling
into the kitchen and we ate breakfast.
Fried potatoes and eggs and coffee.
"Well, you old bastard, " he said. "Pass the salt. "
The tackle was already in the car, so we just got in and
drove away. Beginning at the first light of dawn we hit the
road at the bottom of the mountains, and drove up into the
The light behind the trees was like going into a gradual
and strange department store.
"That was a good-looking girl last night, " he said.
"Yeah, "I said. "You did all right. "
"If the shoe fits....." he said.
Owl Snuff Creek was just a small creek, only a few miles
long, but there were some nice trout in it. We got out of the
car and walked a quarter of a mile down the mountainside to
the creek I put my tackle together. He pulled a pint of port
wine out of his pocket and said wouldn't you know."
"No thanks," I said.
He took a good snort and then shook his head, side to side,
and said, "Do you know what this creek reminds me of?"
"No," I said, tying a gray and yellow fly onto my leader.
"It reminds me of Evageline's vagina, a constant dream
of my childhood and promoter of my youth."
"That's nice," I said.
"Longfellow was the Henry Miller of my childhood," he
"Good," I said.
I cast into a little pool that had a swirl of fir needles going
around the edge of it. The fir needles went around and around.
It made no sense that they should come from trees. They looked
perfectly contented and natural in the pool as if the pool had
grown them on watery branches.
I had a good hit on my third cast, but missed it.
"Oh, boy, " he said. "I think I'11 watch you fish. The stolen
painting is in the house next door. "
I fished upstream coming ever closer and closer to the
narrow staircase of the canyon. Then I went up into it as if
I were entering a department store. I caught three trout in
the lost and found department. He didn't even put his tackle
together. He just followed after me, drinking port wine and
poking a stick at the world.
"This is a beautiful creek, " he said. "It reminds me of
Evangeline's hearing aid. "
We ended up at a large pool that was formed by the creek
crashing through the children's toy section. At the beginning
of the pool the water was like cream, then it mirrored out
and reflected the shadow of a large tree. By this time the
sun was up. You could see it coming down the mountain.
I cast into the cream and let my fly drift down onto along
branch of the tree, next to a bird.
I set the hook and the trout started jumping.
"Giraffe races at Kilimanjaro!" he shouted, and every
time the trout jumped, he jumped.
"Bee races at Mount Everest !" he shouted.
I didn't have a net with me so I fought the trout over to
the edge of the creek and swung it up onto the shore.
The trout had a big red stripe down its side.
It was a good rainbow.
"What a beauty, " he said.
He picked it up and it was squirming in his hands.
"Break its neck, " I said.
"I have a better idea, " he said. "Before I kill it, let me
at least soothe its approach into death. This trout needs a
drink. " He took the bottle of port out of his pocket, unscrewed
the cap and poured a good slug into the trout's mouth.
The trout went into a spasm.
Its body shook very rapidly like a telescope during an
earthquake. The mouth was wide open and chattering almost
as if it had human teeth.
He laid the trout on a white rock, head down, and some
of the wine trickled out of its mouth and made a stain on the
The trout was lying very still now.
"It died happy, " he said.
"This is my ode to Alcoholics Anonymous.
"Look here !"
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