At the bespoke fly fishing shop in the northern California town of Redding, the clerks all wear masks against Covid-19, pulled down under their chins so you can hear their advice on where the fish are biting.
I am here in one of the premier fresh water locales in the world, near the Oregon border, to do a little fly fishing — and to escape the madness of the Covid Panic and urban riots that currently afflict a good portion of the US.
This is an activity that would drive any right-thinking progressive, purple hair in knots, to begin sputtering in rage.
There is no way you can escape the Covid, he/she or they would screech at me, speed-dialing the local contact-tracing health agency.
The only thing to do is to seal shut every business, office, church and medical clinic until at least 2025 — or until Dr Anthony Fauci and the CDC certify that the world is 100 percent safe and that nothing bad can ever happen again anywhere.
To be fair, out on the “lower Sac” — the rushing Sacramento River downstream from Shasta Dam — you can see why the Democrats, in their current obsession with identity politics, might decry fly fishing.
After all, isn’t it a fact that Tucker Carlson — Fox News’s hugely popular anchor and notorious advocate for a colorblind society, who famously declared white supremacy a “hoax” — is an avid fly fisherman who even ties his own flies?
And that Donald Trump Jr spends a good portion of his free time out on rivers in Montana and Alaska?
Although Americans of all shades and creeds enjoy casting their lures upon the rushing waters of the country’s still magnificent rivers, it does appear that fly fishing, like downhill skiing and billiards, is not as diverse as it could be. It attracts a large proportion of middle-aged white males clearly out of tune with the current Marxist Zeitgeist.
According to the Outdoor Industry Association, 38 million Americans engage in some form of freshwater fishing annually — yet only 2.3 percent, or about 6.8 million people, take on the more challenging task of tricking trout into swallowing fake flies. An estimated 78.3 percent of all fisherfolk are white, 8.6 percent Hispanic, 7.6 percent black and only 3.6 percent Asian.
You can see them along the river in this famously “progressive” state — standing up in their metal flat-bottom boats, casting and recasting their lines, hoping to catch one more trout before the thunderstorms, that will soon trigger massive wildfires all across the state, force them to call it a day.
I am always amazed by how much time, trouble and money fly fisherpersons expend just for the thrill of holding a slippery trout for 10 seconds.
Out on the Lower Sac, “catch and release” is the norm. While my friend who fishes California’s coastlines brags about the massive Bluefin tuna he inevitably brings in from his expensive private charters, fly fishermen often bring back nothing but smiles on their faces.
They get up early, hike to their favorite river or launch their boats, spend the entire day flicking their lines back and forth to entice their underwater victims — to the point that they get repetitive stress injuries in their wrists — and then, after eight or 10 hours, return empty-handed.
It is not all for naught, however.
A day out on a rushing river, away from the kaleidoscopic lies of the fake news media, is wonderfully restorative.
It’s like a cognitive laxative that drains out of your mind and body all of the collected toxins of our increasingly deranged society.
Standing in the pouring rain, your eyes focused on the bobbing “indicator” that lets you know if a trout is sniffing at your flies, you can see again what is real — and what is merely pretend.
That, alone, is reason enough to fish the Covid away!