All I want for Christmas this year is good health and my joy back.
The world did come to an end on Dec 21, 2012, for me. My fav aunt, the one who always sent me the “coolest” Christmas gifts wrapped in packaging that was just as special as the gift itself, emailed me an e-card. Wawawa – how depressing.
So when Barbara, over here at The Won, asked me to blog an uplifting message about fishing and the holiday season, since it is after all, “the happiest time of year,” well, I wasn’t sure that I could do it.
At first, I say, “Bah! Humbug!” (Which is likely more to do with my affliction with Lyme disease rather than my aunt’s hip decision to do something nice for Mother Earth this year by saving a tree and thereby sending an e-card.)
According to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that people experience a high incidence of depression. For some, it may have to do with unrealistic expectations and excessive self-reflection. Too much thinking can mess anybody up.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. In fact, we even put up a tree and stuffed a turkey at the Hyatt House Hotel recently. Home away from home, in California as I undergo treatment for chronic bug-born illnesses and co-infections that I accumulated on my fishing adventures around the world. One of the nurses at the clinic kindly loaned me a tree and I may even bake some gingerbread ornaments. You know, the type with the clear sugar windows.
A Christmas memory of fishing Brazil
Other years we have marked the holiday by fishing for Bass at Disney World, trout in New Zealand, GTs in the Indian Ocean at St. Brandon’s. One year, we returned to fish for peacock bass in the deep jungles of Brazil. I knew the water well because I had “been there, done that” before. I was doing very well catching the big boys. I was also catching many more fish than the eight men at the lodge. At dinner one night, I wanted to help the rest of the group to catch the “fish of their dreams,” so I decided to gift each of them the Mongolian fly that was the key to catching the trophy cichlid.
These flies were very special to me. A former friend from the U.S. tied them for me, and I only had a baker’s dozen. I would not be getting more once these were gone. As it turned out, the Chernobyl squirrel—born out of necessity when fishing for taimen on the Eg and Uur Rivers – looked like a lizard trying to cross the dangerous, murky jungle waters on the other side of the globe.
I had made this discovery when fishing the same waters in Brazil the year before. Lots of effort and time was spent that first year trying to find what fly would work best. At long last I figured it out. This time around I could just enjoy the fishing since the hard work had been done the year before.
Late into the meal that night at the lodge, I pulled out the box of flies and tried to pass them around. A late Christmas gift of sorts. They were rejected like a puppy being introduced to its collar and leash for the first time. I was so hurt.
What a slap in the face.
Nothing sends a louder message in the fishing world than rejecting the fly offered to you by a fellow angler. The most basic of manners would dictate that you should take the fly anyway and simply say thank you – even if you did not intend to fish the fly because you thought the sport to be less knowledgeable than yourself.
I remember trying to finish my meal as quickly as possible so I could run back to my hut. I tiptoed around the big bull toads that peppered the path to my lodging. They loved to hang out in my toilet bowl as well. They were as big as rabbits and just as squirmy. Gave me quite a scare the first day at camp when I sat down before looking. Won’t make that mistake twice.
I wouldn’t be making any new fishing buddies that week, unless you include the pot-bellied toads and the camp parrot.
When I returned to my room that night, as usual, my friend was looking back up at me from the glow of the moon cast on the porcelain bowl. Tears would not come. Only rage. I’m a proud person and I had just been humiliated at the dinner table.
At week’s end, they had not landed the trophy, nor did they make any effort to get to know me. Again this made me sad and awkward. I was adopted early on, and the wounds of rejection run deep. I love meeting new people. I see it as a great opportunity to learn something new and see what special gifts a person has nurtured.
I’m most interested by people who are natural leaders, an ability that eludes me. I have found over the years that I have leadership qualities, but that most people don’t want to follow me. They want to fight me. I have a strength about me that isn’t for everyone. It would be a much-admired trait if I were a Japanese man, but a North American sensibility may coin me something derogatory. Again, I’m well intentioned and hard working and don’t see myself the way some have tried to paint me.
The hidden landing strip in the jungle was a lift-off of faith, since the runway was short and punctuated by a sheer drop. We loaded into this overburdened cigar tube and taxied, bouncing, down the tarmac like a bowl of Jell-O until all at once the runway fell away from beneath us. I was sure we were about to fall into the river below.
The groans and nervous laughter after seeing the last few feet of the eroded strip fall away, before the wheels had even left the ground, would be the last I would hear from this group. We sat in silence for the entire flight.
Dreams and goals wash away with the rising tide of inflammation.
Life marches on.
My holiday message
I guess too much reflection can steal your joy, so I prefer to live in the moment as much as possible. The smells and sounds of the holidays all around me. Spending time with those who love and cherish me. Doing something to lift up those less fortunate than myself. Having an attitude of gratitude for all my many blessing.
The cookies and milk will be under the tree.
Visit Kathryn Maroun at WhataCatch TV.
Watch Kathryn as she fishes for Peacock bass in Brazil.
All the best to you and yours for the New Year. I can say for sure that I would not turn away a fly esp if it was one that I had not fished before. I’m sure you see it all in your line of work.
Fishing can bring out the best and the worst in people.
Thanks for your support and I’m glad you like the pictures I post on my whatacatch.net facebook page. Please visit often.
I was very touched and moved by your story. I spent 10 1/2 years as one of Ontario’s premiere muskie guides. While I met many people who have gone on to become life-long friends, I was constantly shocked/stunned by the amount of jealousy, outright rudeness, small minds, and egos of dictatorship like volume that surrounded me. There were those that wouldn’t (or couldn’t) accept your help, because their perceived level of self-professed knowledge ranked up their with the icons of the fishing world. I can only imagine how much larger this issue must be when the gender mix also comes into play. I remember reading or hearing about many personal attacks, often from people that had never met me, and knew little about me as a person or angler. In the long run I stopped guiding, and pretty much stopped all posting on the Internet. I watched as so many of the masters of the muskie world also did the same; specifically they stopped posting anything on the Internet for similar reasons. For me, fishing had lost some of the “shine and luster” that it once held, and it has taken me a number of years to get it back, partially with the help of re-discovering fly fishing, and through discovering kayak fishing.
I look at things in the fishing world from the same standpoint that I do for business. There will always be those that will want to climb to the top quickly, often based on how many people they can use or step-on during their voyage upwards. It’s not knowledge or true personal success that motivate them; it’s ego and attitude. From small minds one can only expect small things. This is a battle that none of us can overcome, and it truly is depressing when we over-think this reality. I no longer let such small minds drag me down. Now I just ignore them and move on.
A number of years ago, I did something a little unique, which gives me and my family tremendous joy every Christmas. I have collected dozens of fishing ornaments from all over North America, including a brown trout tree topper that I picked-up down in Lexington Kentucky. Each December, I put up the “Merry Fishmas” tree. The tree is literally covered with these ornaments, as well as a few retired/badly damaged muskie lures. That tree serves to remind me of my humble beginnings, and how much this sport truly means to me (even during the “down” times). It has become my annual “reality check”. I would be happy to share one of the ornaments from my tree with you, as a gesture towards a highly capable, and inspiring fellow angler, who sounds like she could use a little return generosity in her time of need.
I wish you a belated Christmas greeting, and much success in 2013 (and beyond), and offer my best wishes that these medical treatments offer you long term relief so that you can continue to enjoy what truly motivates you. I will be looking forward to seeing your photos and postings in the years to come.
P.S.: I am currently in the process of completing a post-graduate Executive Certificate in Global Leadership from the Thunderbird School of Management. You’d be surprised how many leadership traits and qualities you share with some very influential leaders. You are much closer than you might think!
Thank you Santa
Christmas came a day late but it did arrive. Thank you so much for your wonderful letter and kind offer to gift me a ” Merry Fishmas tree ornament.” Your words and heartfelt offer have touched me deeply and lifted me up. As I read your words, I was transported back to a simpler time when people knew their neighbors and were all to happy to support the people around them because they to were weary and in need of a helping hand at some point. I think we would do well to get back some of that “old fashioned sensibility.” I’m sorry to hear that you also experienced the darker side of our sport. Like you, the experience changed me. It will take years to undo the damage done to me by bullies. It is my hope that by talking about the issues then change will happen. Thank you for working toward that end. Your words have comforted me and I can tell that you understand how difficult this time of transition is for me. You wrote, ” For me, fishing had lost some of the shine and luster.” I get what you are saying. When I pass over a bridge and see anglers working the water, I immediately think about the power struggle that is going on. The quiet poisonous tug-of-war at play.”I caught the most fish, I caught the biggest fish, I’m the king of this valley.” I had an “Ah Ha” moment, when you said,. “This is a battle that none of us can overcome, and it truly is depressing when we over-think this reality. I no longer let such small minds drag me down. Now I just ignore them and move on.” I had forgotten than I create my own reality. I alone choose to let them affect me. I have work to do in this regard. I also like to you redirected your energy and worked on new challenges and dreams. Congrats on your post -graduate work. Very cool. I would like to learn more about birds and plants. Time to set some new short, mid and long term goals. Time to get my “joy” back.
Please do send me that ornament and a picture of your tree. The view from there would be much better then from where I’m standing today. Thanks for lighting the way. Bless you.
I am so glad my small e-mail was able to help you. (and Merry Christmas to a fellow Canadian!) I have sent Barbara a photo of the “Fishmas Tree 2011”, and will update this with a 2012 photo in a couple of days.
Some day, perhaps we can swap stories in person about the good and not so good side of our industry. It sounds like we have both seen and experienced a lot of both. I have read about the physical and mental challenges you have faced overcoming the various health issues you have had to deal with in your battle with Lyme disease. Smaller people would have already thrown in the hat, but you are still fighting. Having to also deal with the effects of bullying on top is one that very few could overcome, and says volumes about your love for what you do. You hang in there, get well, and keep on being a positive influence in our industry. No matter what the species, or how big the catch, it is always great to see your winning smile every time you land a fish. Take the time to get the “joy” back. Never let the bullies win; be who you are and do what you love!
And for the record, I would gladly share a camp, a beach, a boat, or a river with you any day!
Please be so kind as to let me know where to send that Christmas tree ornament. Maybe it’ll be the start of a new tradition in the Maroun family – your own “Fishmas” tree. If there is anything else I can do to help you out, please don’t hesitate to ask.
I will follow up with Barb.
Next year will be year one for the New Fishmas tree.
Would you be able to pm me on Facebook?
If not then my mailing address in on my whatacatch.net website under contact info. (note that you would need to mark the fly as a free sample or the customs folks in Bermuda will require an invoice)
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help with this.
Bfn and thanks again Steve
Hey Kathryn, firstly, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Secondly, work at getting better, there are many of us who love you, care for you and most of us may have not met you. Find what strength you need from us. You know you can ask me for anything within my ability to provide, won’t mean you ain’t tough or strong and really, many of us like to do for friends.
As for rejection, well perhaps you were able to become the Woman that so many care about because you went to the right place and were able to become you. Rejection doesn’t count much in my mind, though it took me years to get there. I look forward and stretch to do things I was not sure I could do. I use rejection to fuel my forward momentum. How did I start this stage of my life? I found this wild and worldly Blonde Fly Fisher who did things so different, so “Her Way,” that she inspired me to do more. She granted me an interview and I got a small bit of who she was. Kathryn you inspire so many people, rejection maybe fuels you as well.
Get well, be you and one day maybe I can sneak out to fish with one of my personal Heroes……Kerry
Seeing a note from you is a sure way to start the day off well. I’m enjoying my first cup of coffee(all the more because the doctors have said I need to give up my morning brew) and reading your kind words of support and concern, have lifted me. Merry Christmas to you and yours all the way from California.. I’m sure you had a white Christmas with lots of cheer. Perhaps this is the year that we will have the opportunity to visit. We have so much to talk about.
I love that you say, ” rejection fueled your forward momentum.”
I think at this stage that I’m motivated by love. I think it has to do with being sick. I just don’t want to battle. The kindest words from others go such a very long way.
It was my hope that I would have my new film finished before the New Year but that plan was blown out the window with my health issues. The film with do a much better job of telling you what life is like for me these days. But for today I can describe it as a ” desert stands between me and the river.”
Kath – sobering thoughts there. But your leadership spark is only one of the many obvious and also less evident traits that make you special. No White Christmas there in CA this year, but there will be others. Keep making progress with that Lyme thingie.
Hey thanks Les
I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for your support and kind words. I hope the New Year is kind to us.
Working hard to rid myself of this “Lyme thingie.”
What idiots .
Sad situation Fergie
A pox on these rude boys;
That’s why you should come to Peru and fish with us! We’ll get you a whole tribe of Chair Bearers with Palm Fans. Plus you’ll get a complementary Piranha Jaw Necklace and Tiara that will go perfectly with that makeup.
You will be the Amazon Queen for a day, or week, and all the masses will bow to your presence. And please bring your fly box and your Titanium rod, you’ll need it to catch the giant Arapiama we have waiting in our lake where no MAN has ever angled!
As a FisherWoman you’ll be the first human that’s ever wet a line in our fishing paradise, and all the testosteronies can weep in awe. We are saving it for someone like you.
Faliz Navidad from deep in the Peruvian RainForest!
oh wow Robert. I would love to be queen for a day or even a week!
More importantly, I would love to spend time with you in Peru and learn more about life in that part of the world.
I could never turn down such a magical invitation.
While some people may have visions of Mistletoe dancing in their heads….I will be dreaming of a far off land that is home to old fish and new friends.
Very special. Thank you
I think Kathryn might need someone to carry her bags and I heartily volunteer! 😉
you are a giver Barb.lol
What a team we would make.
Thanks for another great WON blogpost, Kathryn! Sad yet hopeful.
Another angler is paying you a great honor (and doing you a big favor) offering you a fly from her/his fly box, especially if it’s the “hot” pattern for that day or that water, like your Chernobyl Squirrel in Brazil. You had every right to feel enraged and humiliated by those guys’ refusing your generous offer. What a slap in the face!
That said, it was their loss. If a man is arrogant and stupid enough to let his ego get in the way of having a more productive fishing trip (and simultaneously making a terrific new fishing buddy) he deserves to rot in the hell of his own creation. Anyone that pathetic is not worth the serotonin or the tears.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with health, happiness, tight lines, and singing reels!
Your note made me smile. I like how you describe the post. “Sad yet hopeful”. That’s how I feel.
Not sure why some people gain pleasure from making others feel small.
Fishing brings out the best and worst qualities in people I guess.
Best of the season to you.
And, zinging reels, too … in Kathryn’s case! We can hardly wait for her to get well and back out there.
Although not an angler and wouldn’t know one end of a rod from another, I agree with Ari… I would have been honored to have received one of your Chernobyl Squirrels…. Thanks for the “chuckle’ – I had a tear but it washed away with the smile your post gave gave me. Love the camo paint 🙂
So good of you to make time to read my Holiday post. I’m sure you have a million things on the go. It is because of people like you that I’m able to wash away the hurt caused by people like that. All the best to you and yours for the New Year. You made a difference in my life. Thanks for that. Best kathryn
I don’t know anyone else like you Kathryn, you are a treasure! Happy Holidays to you!
Like all treasure….some people would prefer me buried…lol
Thank you for reading about what life is like for me these days esp around the Holidays. May give you insight into why I say and do the things I do. I hope that my struggle will help others to see a fresh solutions when faced with a closed door or an unwelcoming reception. We can’t let others change our own truth.
Kathryn I shed a tear while reading this. There’s no explaining ignorance, bias, jealousy or fear. There’s no explanation except we are imperfect humans, each of us ringmasters under our own circus big tops shoving others away from the spotlight so that we are the center of attention. The light shines brightly on you my friend despite their greatest efforts otherwise. My special holiday wish for you is your health back, peace and good fishing.
Bless you Howard. My husband asked me not to post this until after the Holiday. He said that we have enough sadness going on these days. I think it is a lesson in mindset and it is full of possibilities and hope. People believe anything they tell themselves. I tell myself that I am enough. Bless you and yours for the New Year. I hope that you will be with me at the dinner table at the next fishing camp. That would be a gift in my life. Bfn Kath
I would be honored to have one of your Chernobyl Squirrels, or share a place with you in a fishing camp! Have a great holiday Kathryn. May all your dreams and wishes for health and happiness come true in 2013.
It would be a great pleasure to share my fly box with you my friend.
Let’s make that a reality in the New Year.
Thanks again for the copy of your book. It is a wonderful addition to my library.
Tight lines and quick release.
Hi Kathryn, Christmas is a time for giving, not just fancy gift wrapped trinkets, but, genuine wishes for youe future.
That future will be bright, but this is the deal, would you allow me to tie and name a fly in your honour, if you do allow me to do that, you MUST promise that whenever you feel well enough, you will take the fly out and get it wet.
Look forward to using the fly, it will not be long before that day comes.
Please tell me your favourite colour, I will tie YOUR fly around that colour.
Kathryn, promise me one other thing, Do NOT ever change, be Kathryn, my Dad once told me this, if you have something to say, get it out in the open, then, there is no misunderstanding.
I would never ask a true Lady for her address, so, if you agree, I will mail the fly to your office where ever that may be.
Please get well soon, let us all hope 2013 is your year
I guess you are my secret Santa Trevor.
My fav colour is Maroon”)
Sure that is not a surprise to you. lol
Thank you very much for your skilled offer to build a fly and name it in my honor. That would be a great honor and yes I would fish it!!!.
My maiden name was Munroe and I loved to fish the Monroe killer. It would be fun to have a new starting lineup.
cheers friend. All that is left to do is to get your address so I can send you a little something.
Hi Kathryn, I was kinda thinking Maroon, now Munroe, this has gotten me thinking, colours, styles, Mmmmm.
Kathryn, honestly, you don’t need to send me anything, when you are better, catch a Salmon on the fly, take a photo, then you can send me the pic of that Salmon, if you send me something, it will be very much appreciated, but really you don’t need to, I will PM you my address. I’ve got a few ideas, just got to get the colour combinations right, keep your chin up my friend, Trev
I have just read your story and what can I say…..
For one; Merry Christmas and may the New Year bring you tight lines and smiles.
Second; You are not the looser here!
Those fools are the ones who are the losers.
If someone is having success on the fly and you are missing out; take advice and especially flies if they are offered.
I run a guiding business in Northeast Victoria Australia and deal with people of all walks of life and skill levels.
Those who listen and accept advice are the ones who do the best.
I hope you are on the mend and back out onto the water soon.
Smile and enjoy life.
Share it with those who are willing to share in return and forget those who are too wrapped up in themselves they cannot see the real joy.
Tight lines; Scottie
ps..Any more pictures of some of your fish and flies 🙂