One day last fall, Ms. Jeanne Cawley of Hinsdale approached me with a copy of the following poem. She said that it used to hang in a cottage where her father stayed long ago while fishing in the Adirondacks in NY. It was written by Edgar A. Guest and she wondered if he was a poet or just someone who used to fish the Adirondacks and stay at that cottage. It obviously had significance to Jeanne and I promised to look into it.
Well, it turns out that Mr. Guest was a prolific English-born American poet who was popular in the first half of the 20th century and became known as the People’s Poet. He wrote over 11,000 poems which were syndicated in some 300 newspapers and collected in more than 20 books, including A Heap o’ Livin’ (1916) and Just Folks (1917). Guest was made Poet Laureate of Michigan, the only poet to have been awarded the title. His popularity led to a weekly Detroit radio show which he hosted from 1931 until 1942, followed by a 1951 NBC television series, A Guest in Your Home.
The poem, entitled Out fishin’, is as follows:
A feller isn’t thinkin’ mean,
His thoughts are mostly good an’ clean,
Out fishin’. He doesn’t knock his fellow men., Or harbor any grudges then; A feller’s at his finest when Out fishin’. The rich are comrades to the poor,
Out fishin’; All brothers of a common lure,
Out fishin’. The urchin with the pin an’ string Can chum with millionaire an’ king; Vain pride is a forgotten thing,
A feller gits a chance to dream,
Out fishin’; He learns the beauties of a stream, Out fishin’; An’ he can wash his soul in air That isn’t foul with selfish care, An’ relish plain and simple fare, Out fishin’. A feller has no time fer hate, Out fishin’; He isn’t eager to be great, Out fishin’. He isn’t thinkin’ thoughts of self, Or goods stacked high upon a shelf, But he is always just himself, Out fishin’. A feller’s glad to be a friend, Out fishin’ A helpin’ hand he’ll always lend, Out fishin’. The brotherhood of rod an’ line An’ sky and stream is always fine; Men come real close to God’s design, Out fishin’. A feller isn’t plotting schemes, Out fishin’; He’s only busy with his dreams, Out fishin’. His livery is a coat of tan, His creed -to do the best he can; A feller’s always mostly man, Out fishin’.
Things have certainly changed since Mr. Guest wrote those words. For one thing, it’s no longer just a “feller’s sport” but the gals love it too. Just ask Connie Rickard and her daughter Akira Derr of Pittsfield, pictured above. It is so nice to see a mother and daughter spending quality time fishing together.
Thank you so much, Jeanne, for bringing this poem to our attention. There is something special in the words written by angling poets who have long passed beyond the river bend. Their words ring just as true and beautifully today as then. Maybe in a future column I can feature another of his poems entitled Fishing Nooks *****
Approximately 120 anglers participated in the Wild Acres Youth Fishing Derby which was held on Saturday, May 9. Lion Aviation sponsored the derby and stocked 400 trout for the day’s event. The Onota Fishing Club hosted it and provided poles, bait and assistance to all children. They also provided breakfast and lunch for all participants. 50 of the trout were tagged and trophies were awarded to all children who caught them.
In addition to the stocked brook and rainbow trout, a couple of bass, sunfish, perch, bull head, frogs and two turtles were caught. It looked like Steve Fones’ grandkids had the best luck, catching 13 trout including 3 of the tagged ones. All of them were released. Granddaughter Jordan Hamilton caught a big rainbow trout and a nice bass. Young Lucas Fones had a good day, too. The Stimpson’s caught some nice ones, too. *****
The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week: Hoosic River in Cheshire and Adams, Clesson Brook in Ashfield and Buckland, Cold River in Charlemont, Florida and Savoy; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Housatonic River in Pittsfield (S/W), Lee (C&R), Stockbridge (C&R), Dalton and Hinsdale; South Brook in Adams and Cheshire, Dry Brook in Cheshire, Konkapot River in Monterey, New Marlbough and Sheffield; and the following lakes and ponds: Otis Reservoir, Greenwater Pond, Laurel Lake, Big Pond, Lake Buel, Onota Lake, Norwich Pond and Windsor Pond. *****
In his monthly report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife District Manager Andrew Madden noted that this spring, MassWildlife is once again working to help the Common Loon, a Species of Special Concern under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. Loons are threatened primarily by lead poisoning, induced by the ingestion of fishing sinkers lost by anglers, as well as acid rain, pesticides, shoreline development, and human disruption. Management efforts, including monitoring and floating nest rafts, have been critical in increasing the number of breeding pairs in the Commonwealth. The Western District will have 2 loon rafts deployed this spring at water supply reservoirs in Hinsdale and Lee. *****
Recently, Madden reported that some 430 coyotes were harvested statewide during the past hunting season. Of that total, approximately 75 – 80 were harvested in Berkshire County. No statewide figures were available.