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Kathryn Maroun’s WhatACatch: Rocks in my head — or I don’t want to live ‘Lord of the Flies’

Do you ever have days when you wonder why you even bother? Would anyone even notice if you didn’t show up?

I’m having more and more of “those days,” it seems. Today, for example.

I watched as my dear husband dragged his battle-weary bones out the door. He was headed to the airport on his way across the pond for meetings, yet again. We didn’t need to say a word as he kissed me farewell. We have been together for nearly 20 years. One look says it all. The look this time said, “Why do we even bother?” Why don’t we just get a dog and a clothesline and both retire?” I was thinking to myself?

We talk about getting off the treadmill all the time, but we just can’t seem to take that important first step toward walking away. It would mean that our careers are over and all that’s left is to talk about is, “Remember when?”

I’m not ready for the old-age home yet. 

All that work, worry, invested time and effort for what? A thank-you cake and a parting gift, like a wristwatch? Not even those, since we are both self-employed. As we say in fishing, “skunked.”

The conclusion we arrive at, each time we want to “give it up already,” is that we still love what we do. We just don’t love all the crap that goes along with it.

So all this crap over the years would be more than enough symbolic fertilizer to start a big garden. I read somewhere that it’s unhealthy to simply retire cold turkey. It’s best to make a plan that eases you out of your chosen profession. Most of us link our identities with our careers, and so a sudden loss of a job could trigger “drama.”

Part A of my “anti-drama plan” consists of building a “dry landscape” garden that represents a river ecosystem. This is a fancy way of saying that I want to build a garden and I have rocks in my head.

Rocks in my head

Dreaming about building my own Japanese rock garden is where my head is these days. I’m not planning my next fishing trip “miss-adventure.” I have grown weary of the old boys club—but not the activity of fishing. So perhaps in the next chapter of my life, I see myself staying a little closer to home and talking to the dog instead of TV cameras. I’m going to exorcize the fishing demons from my mind and replace them with rocks, yes rocks.

Carefully placed rocks, gravel and plants have been used in landscape gardening since the Heian Period (794–1185). Zen gardens are meant to aid in meditation and to bring us closer to understanding the true meaning of life. The “Sakuteiki” (the oldest gardening text in the world, from the 11th century) described exactly how the rocks should be placed to create the great river style, the mountain river style and the marsh style. The ocean style features rocks that appear to be eroded by waves. This idea is further reinforced by banking boulders with white sand — or in the case of Bermuda beaches, pink sand — to create the illusion of a beachscape. This garden won’t be built in a day, so it’s not like I’m going to retire tomorrow.

Mother Earth (Wind and Fire)

I just want to start working my way in that direction. I know lots about the fine art of clay, since I started off my work years as a master potter. Next, I transitioned into fishing guide, teacher, writer and TV producer. Now I want to make time to learn more about plants and birds. That would make me one with Mother Earth … fire, water, rock.

I started working on the garden after my fishing trip to Iceland a few weeks ago. A rock garden isn’t as easy as you would think, but then again nothing ever is. Trying to mold these rocks into something appealing is an uphill battle, much like my fishing career. My dear Dad wanted me to be a lawyer’s wife and have a bunch of kiddies, but I had dreams of the river and big fish.

My career in the industry has taken me many places, all of which have met with heavy current. The industry didn’t exactly give me the warm, welcoming hug that I was looking for. An extended hand at times perhaps, but that would just lead to a slap on the way past.

I’m tired of being red-faced. 

She’s on a sailfish! Photo courtesy of Kathryn Maroun

They say the best way to lose your love for a hobby is to make it your job. This I have found to be true. It isn’t the activity of fishing itself that I no longer care for, but rather all the effort needed to push back against mountains of gender bias, politics and bullying that plague the industry.

It is akin to “Lord of The Flies, “where human nature, versus the common good, are always at odds.” We all read William Golding’s novel about a group of boys stuck on an uninhabited island. They try to govern themselves, but it all goes terribly wrong, despite the ideal setting. Feels eerily familiar.

The theme of the story is that it is best to live by the rules set forth by the people who have the power. Rocking the boat makes you a target. Anyone watching from the outside (like the British officer leading the landing party in the book) mistakes the behavior of the pack as a harmless game rather than seeing it for what it is. Call it what you like.

I don’t remember the exact day when it became clear to me that not everyone shares my values. I do believe that forces of good and evil are at play in the world. Some people get up in the morning and try to think of ways to cause pain and damage against others so that they can feel powerful and strong. How else can you explain gender discrimination and bullying in the sport of fly fishing?

Want to see Kathryn in action? Check out her YouTube contributions.

Also, visit What A Catch! to learn more about women and fly fishing and to sign the petition to change sport fishing and its attitude.

  • About Kathryn Maroun

    Kathryn Maroun is one of a handful of Canadian women to be certified as an FFF casting instructor. She is the award winning executive producer of What A Catch Productions. The 52 show series highlights Kathryn's fishing adventures from around the world. Kathryn exposes never talked about hazards of the sport, conservation, culture, as well as showcasing exotic game fish in her series. Her show first aired in the US before being internationally distributed. Kathryn is featured in the collection of two prominent museums for her significant contribution to the sport of fly fishing. Kathryn Maroun is the president and founder of Casting for Recovery Canada, past director of Trout Unlimited Canada and past member of the Canadian World Fly Fishing team. Along with creating a line of clothing for women at work in the outdoors, Kathryn has fished around the world and has a number of world record fish to her name. Today she dedicates her time to writing about her miss-adventures and enjoys telling her stories through keynote speaking opportunities. Kathryn is campaigning to create a more balanced playing field for women in the sport.


The Conversation

  • Mary Greenwald says: June 1, 2013 at 12:04 am

    Outstanding article!,

  • Steve Kwikkel says: September 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Here’s what saddens me more than anything. As a middle school principal, we work tirelessly with young people helping them to break down barriers, embrace tolerance and take joy in other’s success. I want to thank the Good Old Boys club for effectively clubbing to death a women who stands for far more than a product line and personal accolades. I’m afraid guys you are acting just like your club name…boys. Research the Napoleon Complex and see if it applies.

    Although I no longer get What a Catch! in our neck of the woods in Iowa, Kathryn gave life to a six year project that helped raise almost $25,000 for a camp for children with cancer. Hey boys! Step up. Oh wait, to busy slapping butt and posturing for personal glory?

    Catch the Spirit! Kathryn. Megan would want you too.


    • kathryn maroun says: September 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Thanks Kwik
      You have done a lot of good in this world. It will be interesting to watch your kids blossom as a direct result from the seeds you planted. You even planted a seed in me to try and leave my corner of the world a little better off then how I found it.

  • Yancey Ranspot says: September 27, 2012 at 12:03 am

    I love the article. I just wanted to sign up for the news letter.

  • Bill Bowers says: September 26, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Another great article, Kathryn. All we can say about The WON landing you as a contributor is “What a catch!”