Being a fish bum seems romantic to the very people who will never be fish bums. For starters, what’s required is an appreciation for the great unwashed because that’s who you will be slumming with at various boat ramps, campgrounds, rest stops, trailheads, diners, and beer joints. You have to be part of the great unwashed; you cannot buy your way in. It requires the ability to sleep on the ground, on flea ridden mattresses, in the back of cars, or if you’re headed south, in the company of rats. You have to be able to eat anything from Navajo tacos to sardines in mustard sauce. You have to be willing to get by on instant coffee—lattes are not an option. Fish bums have to be able to fix their own cars, because you will break down in a zone where you’re the only mechanic. You will need a road atlas, tape, glue, a socket set, vice grips, and the ability to listen to stories and tell stories for hours at a time as you rip through miles of the American west. You have to wear boots some of the time. You have to be able to sew and patch and rig. You will need a solid understanding of knots. Your car will be full of coffee cups, matches, empty Red Bull tin cans, pizza crust, rain jackets, BONEDALE t-shirts, scratched Scorpions CDs, wads of monofilament, and lots of gear bags. You will need several hats. You will need some goggles. You will need a plastic Jesus. You will need a passport and two drivers’ licenses, and you have to be able to talk your way out of bad situations. There may be a hawg in the tunnel. Mostly you have to have a restless heart.
Live from the World Headquarters
Kea C. Hause esq.