Friday, October 10, 2014

Whatever happened to the Scotch?

Okay. So we're now in Missouri campground hosting at Montauk State Park. It's a lovely place. The park is situated at Montauk Springs, the headwaters of the Current River, and is in the Ozarks. The campground nestles next to the river and is nicely laid out with "mature" landscaping. Lots of humongous shade trees, relatively level ground, actual concrete pads on which campers can park their motorhomes or trailers. The campers run the gamut from young families with multiple small children muddling along in a humble pop-up or in tents to retirees with high dollar 5th wheel trailers or fresh off the assembly line Leviathans. There's a motorhome parked not far from us that I'd be willing to swear I saw on HGTV on a show dedicated to million dollar RVs, but there are also RVs that come close to being Randy Quaid specials. I guess our Guppy falls closer to the Randy Quaid end of the spectrum, but it's not alone in being an older model.

But, as usual, what I start off writing about isn't actually what's on my mind. What's actually on my mind is what's with all these trout fishermen who don't seem to have gotten the memo about the way trout fishermen are supposed to behave. I've read the Robert Traver books (Trout Madness, Trout Magic). Trout fishermen are solitary souls who stake out their piece of the river, focus obsessively on catching fish, and then go home (or back to their tent) to brood silently, thinking about the perfect fly and sipping Glenfiddich or some other single malt Scotch whiskey. They do not gather in herds around a campfire to consume massive amounts of Busch Lite (in cans, no less) and then fill the fire ring with the discarded cans of their horrible cheap beer.

Maybe I should assume it's all the guys (and gals) with their spin-casting rods. People who spin cast instead of fly fishing do tend to be a bit more casual in their outlook. At any rate, I don't see too many of them walking around looking like photos from an Orvis catalog. The fly fishermen get totally tricked out in waders and special vests and go stalking toward the river with their beautifully crafted wooden landing nets dangling on their backs; the spin casters amble casually by with a rod in one hand, a cheap landing net and small box of lures in the other, and maybe a pair of rubber boots on their feet. They're casting from shore; the fly fishermen are wading out into the middle of the river.

Of course, the fly fishermen have to get into the middle of the river in order to have space to whip all that line around. I took a fly fishing class in college -- I didn't learn much from it -- once the instructor got us to spread out along the banks of the Pilgrim River, I'd make sure I was as far away from him as possible, find a comfortable place to sit, and then read for an hour -- but I did figure out that fly fishing is a whole lot of work for not much fish. Spin casting, on the other hand, you can do from a lawn chair, which, in fact, is what a fair number of campers at this park do every day. There are several very nice areas set up for use by disabled fishermen, but if there's no one around who happens to be in an actual wheelchair and needs the space, anyone with a lawn chair can take advantage of the concrete piers.

In any case, from the perspective of a person who's getting to pick the beer cans out of the fire rings, it feels like there is something seriously wrong with the typical fisherman at this park. He or she is drinking the wrong beverage, and they're drinking it in much too social a setting. They need to do more silent brooding and less cheerful, hops-laden socializing. Either that, or someone needs to teach them all the difference between a campfire and a trash bin.


  1. I like to sit at a campfire and bs with others but I don't toss my empty's in the fire.

    I like spin casting or trolling, might try explosives someday.

  2. People tossing trash into a campfire baffles me. It seems to contradict the whole campfire experience when you start throwing garbage into the fire ring.

    Most campers do leave the site quite clean, though. Even the guys with the beer cans don't toss huge numbers into the fire; it's just enough to make me wonder why they do it.

    I wasn't sure just how I'd feel about this campground host business in general. The host's site is always the most visible in the campground; it's kind of like camping on a stage. I was a little worried about privacy or having people asking us questions all the time. It hasn't been bad, although that might be because this park gets so many repeat customers that most people don't need to consult the host at all. The campers already know the rules as well as what's where in the local area.

  3. The campground hosts here seem to have it pretty good, I've never seen anyone go to them. I get the impression that most people see them as campground cops and don't want to talk to them.

  4. We do have people asking questions, although not many. Usually it's someone trying to find a space when the park is looking (and probably is) full. We have figured out that the only way to be sure of not having people come wandering over to ask a question is to leave the park. On our days off, we can have the door closed and a sign on it telling people to go see one of the other hosts for help and they'll still knock if they figure we're here.

    I'm not sure how good campground hosts in general have it. We're not expected to do any heavy cleaning or trash pickup here (if things are bad, we're supposed to call maintenance), but I know at other parks the hosts are responsible for cleaning the restrooms (all we have to do is check for cleanliness and refill toilet paper dispensers occasionally) and doing real maintenance like lawn mowing. Here it's more just be available to answer questions or call for the law enforcement ranger if people get too rowdy after quiet hours start. That hasn't happened yet -- most of the campers know the rules and follow them.


My space, my rules: play nice and keep it on topic.