Shades

by Scott Sadil

How do these things happen?

When I was young, I didn’t even wear sunglasses, as the whole point of existence was to live as simply as a monk so you could spend as much time as possible in the water. More or less. Of course, we went to school and had jobs, the usual quotidian fare, but in our heart of hearts we understood that anybody could do that, so how much did it matter compared to dropping in late on a big gnarly left that promised to grind like crashing thunder over the inside sandbar?  

Who, in fact, could even afford a good pair of shades?

Things began to change when we started to get serious about fishing, as well. It did help if you could see—trout in a stream, corbina in the foamy wash along the beach. This was also about the time I began to sense that maybe it was a good idea to protect my eyes while staring for hours across or into water shimmering beneath the sun, that fair eyes might run into the same kind of problems we were just learning could affect the skin, mine more vulnerable than most, now that word was out you were no longer safe getting brown in spring and then forgetting all about exposed flesh aside from smearing some greasy gunk on your nose to keep it from burning and peeling every half-dozen days.

Still, a pair of Ray-Bans was a serious investment. And what a drag to lose or ruin them.

Now, however, I won’t leave the house without a good pair of sunglasses. And I live in Oregon. What’s more shocking still is that I own so many pairs these days, specialty shades for these conditions or that, for fishing in bright light or low light, for driving or while out in the shop working on a boat, that I’ve ended up with so many pairs lying around that half the time I can’t find the ones I’m looking for.

Is it just me?

I confess I like to stay prepared. Once, at Steve Bird’s place on the upper Columbia, I was getting ready to walk to the river to fish the evening drake hatch when I couldn’t locate my deluxe, amber, bifocal sunglasses. I went through every pocket of my vest once, twice, no fewer than a half-dozen times.  Convinced my shades were lost, I quickly got online and ordered another pair, to be shipped to my house, where I planned to stop the coming week to do laundry before heading off on another trout hunt.  Screw the money.  I put my card away, picked up my vest and rod, and started for the river. When I arrived at the Grotto, where the big rainbows were just starting to feed on little caddisflies, I eagerly reached for some fresh tippet material and pulled out my sunglasses instead.

You know how easily they vanish. One time my D-Loop flicked me in the back of the head at about the same moment I thought I heard or saw a steelhead roll in the pool right in front of me. Another time I lost two pair off my boat in the same day—the first, while cooking, when I went to swat a bug, the other pair when I leaned over the rail to spit after brushing my teeth.  

Anyway, at last count I had a two pairs of Smiths, two pairs from Costa, a pair with glass lenses from Bajio. And let’s not say too much about the drugstore readers. Granted, I try to keep track by storing all my glasses in cases with labels written with a chisel-tip Sharpie on blue painter’s tape: Fish. Drive. 1.25. 1.5.  2.0. Tying.    

You would think that would help.

Gray’s Angling Editor Scott Sadil claims he would gladly wear sunglasses to bed if he felt it would help his insomnia.