Beyond fish: Cameron Chambers & Chasing Rumor

SHARE Beyond fish: Cameron Chambers & Chasing Rumor
SHARE Beyond fish: Cameron Chambers & Chasing Rumor

“The fish are simply the excuse that draws us along the blue line of the Carretera Austral to stumble into this feeling of welcome, this there.” (Chasing Rumor: A Season Fly Fishing in Patagonia, p. 190)

* * * *

Chasing Rumor is different.

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It’s a fly-fishing book the same way Moby Dick is a whaling tale.

“I very intentionally set out to write a book about Patagonia,” author Cameron Chambers said in an interview. “Fishing is just a thread to tie each chapter together.”

What he wove is good and important.

Good writers have been drawn to fly fishing for a long time. Or maybe the converse, fly fishers are drawn to good writing.

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Chambers understands the tradition. He fits in a line that includes Thomas McGuane, Robert K. Brown and Norman Maclean (A River Runs Through It.)

Such books that developed his “ethos” of fly fishing.

He wanted Chasing Rumor to be as much about the ethics of fishing as fishing itself. Well, about the people and places of the fishing far more than the fishing.

On page 211, he writes, “What I find I was looking for is not a fish, a lake, or a river. It’s the feeling of unhurried possibility, the idea the world is out there waiting for me.”

What sets Chambers apart as a contemplative fly-fishing writer is relative youth. It’s one thing for aging men to contemplate navels and big questions of life. Quite another for a young man to do that. The 33-year-old Seattle fireman was 25 when he pulled the book together.

The setting was perfect. Patagonia is one of the most storied fishing spots in the world.

But there are oddities to trout fishing there beyond the remoteness.

In some ways, trout fishing in Patagonia is like carp fishing in America, it is a non-native species that has taken hold. Only without the glamour and exotic locale.

Maybe some day there will be book that combines big ideas with American carp fishing as the thread tying it together.

I digress, but I think Chambers would understand.

He said the book came easy because he had to take notes with pen and notebooks in the remote area.

“I had four or five notebooks about people and the environment,” he said. “It was an easy transition to write the book with the already-written words I had accumulated through the journey.”

His youth and writing skills give me hope. Take this this description of waders hung for the evening to open chapter 15.

“The small pools of water that dripped to the rough floor are nearly dry in the heat of the evening fire. Outside the rain tip-taps against the single-pane windows, and through the gray haze of the downpour and dusk the cataraft frame sits at the end of the gravel drive collecting water. The small potholes in the road are filled to overflowing, and a spider web of trickles carry water to a gushing ditch.”

Ah, yes.

On page 105, Chambers writes, “It’s fishing’s most diabolical catch-22. If you share a great place, you only make it not as great; if you want to keep it a secret, no one will ever share in the greatness.”

Fortunately, good reads are different. They gain in greatness with sharing.

A fly caster is highlighted alone against the sky in Patagonia.<br>Credit: Cameron Chambers

A fly caster is highlighted alone against the sky in Patagonia.
Credit: Cameron Chambers

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