Fly troopers on your feet! Let me direct your attention to Eric Feldkamp, aka diefische, comrade and participant in this edition of Deadman’s Cast. While maybe not his style- I like to think of dieFische as the Fonz of fly fishing. Just that cool. Ayyy. So let’s get started.

AirborneAngler (AA): I hope you don’t mind me pairing you with Fonzie of Happy Days (reference for any whippersnappers following along). Is there another/different TV persona you see yourself better compared to?

Eric Feldkamp (EF): I guess I would have to say that I always felt like a cross between Chris and Fleischman off of Northern Exposure. One part of me is an artistic, adventurous spirit looking for the meaning of the universe while wrapped in my own ego and the other half is a practical, self stressed worrier that seems to find fault in everything. It makes for a rather manic life.

20120705-171431.jpg

AA: On your website dieFische.org you explain one, not only how to pronounce dee-fish-uhh, but also how it means all the fish. Where did you get your passion for all the fish and be honest- which fish is your favorite?

EF: I’ve been lucky enough to live in a lot of places in my 40 years on this giant spinning orb. Some places have been amazingly blessed with nature and adventure, and others…not so much. When I moved to Austin a while back, I quickly realized that one thing that set it apart from many towns is it’s amazing abundance of creeks and rivers. They are clean enough you can actually step in them without exposing yourself to immediate medical danger. Once the joy of the water was there it didn’t take long to notice the fish and the excuses they provided to get wet, cool off, and get a little leisurely exercise.

After I started fishing religiously, I couldn’t believe how in the course of a conversation people would always ask if there was REALLY fishing around Austin. The fact that there was so much of it EVERYWHERE around here, and that people who loved to fish, but only thought they could do it on the coast or in Colorado were clueless to the treasures in places as close as Barton Springs. THAT was why I started “die Fische” and the passion to experience every option around here.

As far as fish go, I really have a special spot in my heart for the natives. When I pull a Guadalupe out of the water and see those diamond markings, it just feels right. The Rio Grandes (while technically not native around here) have always been special to me as well, when you pull them close they look like glowing star charts with deep hidden meanings. Plus, the sections of river you find them both on can hold their own against any of the big “Fly Fishing Waters”.

20120705-171656.jpg

AA: While taking a photo of Rio Grande a glaring beam of light bounces off the water blinding you momentarily- but enough to throw you off your balance. In your disarray you slip. Choose your most likely fate:
a) you knock your noggin’ into an eternal deep sleep
b) you fight your way to your feet only to be choked out by tangled fly line
c) choke on a minnow you near swallow submerged
d) or other?

EF: D: Two Gar grab my pant legs, one on each side. They drag me down into the deep pocket of water I’ve fished 100 times. It always looked like it was ten, maybe twelve feet deep, but they take me much deeper than that. Suddenly Rio’s start swirling around my head like phosphorescent ravers on an Ectasy binge. Shortly thereafter I find myself face to face with the King of the Deep, the mighty Channel Cat, he speaks in a heavy, deep voice that sounds like a strange combination of James Earl Jones and Louis Armstrong, suffice to say it’s deep, much like the water that is seeping in every pore. The words are non-descript but comforting and full of love. The lack of oxygen and the relaxed state I’m drifting into take hold, and before slipping away into the darkness, I confess my unbridaled love for my wife, and my son before being entertained for eternity in the after life by the Dance of the Lizard King.

AA: Wow, that is quite a vivid response. Add one more detail for us- which body of water do you meet your demise on?

EF: Pedernales. EVERY time I fish there alone I feel a strange death and rebirth, so dying there wouldn’t really be much of a shock.

20120705-192947.jpg

AA: Ok, I can understand that. So then, name two rivers- one is heaven, the other is hell.

EF: Heaven? Barton Creek. Every time I go there (when there is water) it blows my mind that this oasis is right here in the epicenter of this crazy urban forest.

Hell? Any major river that has been written off as a sewer pipe for progress. The one that immediately comes to mind is Missouri River in Omaha, Nebraska. In all the years i lived there i would stare at that river and feel some magnetic pull that i was never able to realize because of the immense lack of respect it saw. Floating cow corpses were not uncommon to see washing downstream in the endless stream of muck. It wasn’t until i lived in Oregon, Colorado and Austin later in life that i saw clear water and realized what power flowing water has over me.

AA: Please elaborate.

EF: Pollution, arrogance and greed have ruined many a things, but waterways are the most obvious. Just glance at these waters and you can feel it. Killing an environment for short term gains is in my mind the true definition of hell (or evil for that matter).

The flip side of the coin is Barton Creek. It means so much to so many people that it remains clean and healthy in spite of the development around it. Many people I talk to say that when Barton Creek goes to crap from development, that is the day they will sign the death warrant for Austin. I happen to agree, it helps keep so many people (including me) centered that it truly deserves the amazing reputation it has developed. It’s freakin unreal, i just wish the party goers passing through town would realize that and give it the respect it deserves before they kill it (or at least access to it).

20120705-192511.jpg

AA: When you pass your readers ban together for a dieFische monument. What is your crowning achievement they recognize and where do they place it?

EF: I don’t want to sound like a Oprah Winfrey Do Gooder, but if anything, I want to be remembered for getting people to wake up and realize that the dream is all around them. If you believe everything you see in fly fishing videos, websites, and magazines, then it’s all about the biggest fish and the most remote, exotic locations. It sells reels, rods, and plane trips with guides, but it also stokes the fire that seems to be raging across this country, the dissatisfaction with what you DO have and the hopes to achieve what you DON’T. Die Fische is a movement more than anything else, one of embracing what you have and enjoying it to the max. So you have an Eagle Claw 2WT rod and are catching 6” Bluegill? Do you have the capacity to enjoy that and make the most of it? If so, the joy you feel suddenly equates to that of a dude on a flats boat with a 10WT catching tarpon. It’s all about perspective and appreciation, unfortunately that doesn’t sell DVD’s or magazines so it’s not what you read or hear about.

Don’t get me wrong, I love going to Colorado to visit for family and fish for trout on Eleven Mile or the Dream Stream, but when I’m here at home I don’t pine after those waters, I head to Barton Creek and immerse myself in everything it has too offer.

It can be magical here, and I just want people to see (and experience) that. Those that get it, get it. Those that don’t? I just feel sad for them.

It’s all around you people.

20120705-192752.jpg

AA: I hear you. I’ve stopped trying to explain at the office that the 10″ Rio I got over the weekend really is a helluva catch. Although I will admit I will never look at another Rio in the same way again. (Normally, I just sing the song in my head when one is on line, “Her name is Rio and she”- never mind). In closing I’ve prepare the following award for you… “Attention to orders! The Department of Fly Anglers hereby presents dieFische of the Texas Hill Country Regiment the Humanitarian Angling Award for his dedication to Barton Creek and all Texas Hill Country Rivers. Your steadfast devotion is inspirational and the epitome of the heart of true fly angler. Your actions bring great credit upon yourself, the Texas Hill Country, and Fly Anglers World Wide. Signed this 5th day of July 2012.”

There you have it folks- the man, the myth, the legend dieFische.

See you on the high ground,
AirborneAngler

More DMC interviews