Retiring the Wet Boots (Pair #2)

A streamside tribute.

Some people ask me how I came up with the name for my Blog. Simple. When I was working on the Delaware River for the Delaware River Club, I was fishing non-stop every day and night after I was done working. One day I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time my boots had actually been dry. That was a pretty good sign that I was doing a lot of fishing. It seemed like a good symbol to me of what I wanted to represent in my writing.

I killed the original pair of those“wet” boots on the Delaware that same summer when I stepped into a sandy bottom that I sunk into. I managed to pull my foot out along with most of my boot. However, the entire felt sole and inside sole that was attached to it remained in the sand. Thus the ending of Pair #1. (I fished that entire day with one bare foot.) Pair #2 came in the mail a week later, and I was back in business. I really did not think of these boots as anything but bottom-of-the-line boots that I hoped would last me through the rest of that summer.

Somehow, two full years later, those very same boots remained on my feet. Although the inner sole developed some sort of fungus and it resembled something close to a foot tumor with serious warping, I still was able to heave my foot into it every time, although incredibly uncomfortable. Last month I finally bucked up and decided to get another pair—$50 on Ebay for some old-school Hodgman’s.

I figured the Deschutes was an appropriate place to bury these boots that had guided me through so many rivers. I wanted to wait for the perfect hole to tie a rock to and drop them in the bottom; just enough to be seen, but deep enough to rest peacefully. By the time the float was over, all 4 miles and 11 hours of it, the boots still had not found a proper resting place. I realized it was right in front of me. The tall tree right at the boat take-out that shyly leaned over the water was the perfect place. I tied the laces together and heaved the battle-scarred boots up and over a branch until they found their final resting place. It was indeed a fitting end to a great relationship.

I have been called a bum several times in my life, and I’m not talking about a trout bum. That is just fine with me; I relish in the idea that I am enough of a minimalist that I can stretch out boots to last me two years that have no business on anyone’s feet past month six. I use gloves that a bum would turn down in the winter. I have hand-me-down waders that leak in four different places, and I wear them while winter steelheading. I do just enough to get it done. And I love it.

Wet Boots Are a Way of Life.