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By Louis Cahill

I’m starting to think that it’s not my computer monitor that I’m saving.

Here’s something you probably haven’t thought about. If you are a regular G&G reader, it’s likely that your picture of what goes on behind the curtain is more dramatic than it actually is. You might be tempted to think that I am always on the bow of a flats boat or on the sticks floating a river somewhere or knee-deep in a steelhead run, and for an average of one week a month, that’s fairly true. What you probably haven’t pictured is what goes on the other three weeks of every month, which is less exciting.

In most homes there is a room where you don’t take visitors. In our hundred-twenty year old home, which is short on closets, there certainly is. A room full of camping gear, suitcases, fabric remnants, and more than a few cameras and fly rods. In the corner of that room there is a small antique desk with two very large computer monitors and a laptop. That’s the Gink and Gasoline world headquarters. My version of a Bond villain’s secret island with underground fortress.

I don’t mean to take the polish off, but most of what you see online is a result of the days spent here, not the ones spent on the river. It’s an awesome job, but it’s a job. Anyway, my trusty Macbook Pro, which has chugged along like a Timex for over ten years finally became functionally obsolescent this year and has been replaced by a shiny new iMac. I’ve spent much of the week between Christmas and New Years migrating data and getting the new machine up to speed.

Part of that transition has been updating the screensaver.

For decades now there has been a folder on my hard drive named Fishsaver. In that folder are hundreds of images of fish, which scroll across my computer screen before it drops off to sleep. I’m sure all of you have something similar, but this one is special. Not because it’s mine but because it has actually taken over my life, and not just because I spend way too much time looking at the images.

I started the Fishsaver back when I was a studio advertising photographer. A job I loved and was, frankly, very good at. Like any job you do for over twenty years it required more than passion and a good work ethic. It also required frequent distractions. Or maybe reminders of why I was putting myself through it. Enter the Fishsaver.

Once photography became digital, there was always a computer on set. Looking over and seeing images of fish and rivers kept me going through some long hard days. It did something else though, that I never expected. It got the attention of my clients. They would watch it like television. We always ended up talking more about my fishing than their products.

One of my better clients, who was also a good friend, finally talked me into putting some of those images on my photography website. His rational was that it would make me stand out among photographers. Clients might not hire me to shoot fishing, but they would remember me as the photographer who fly fished. He was dead wrong. I put those images on my website and wishing a couple of years half of my business was in fly fishing. Ten years later, I’m a fly fishing publisher, because of that screensaver.

I’m making a very long story fairly short but that’s basically how this whole thing got started. Over the years my work has changed quite a bit but the Fishsaver has stayed pretty much the same. With the addition of the new iMac, I decided it was time to update the Fishsaver. I went back through my library of about half a million images and exported about four hundred to a new folder. It was a pretty slick presentation of some of my best work. A great mood-board for getting me fired up to write about fly fishing. I called my wife in to show it off.

That looks great,” she said, like she always does.

“Not bad,” I answered. “It’s like the story of my life.”

“Well, your fishing life anyway.” She shrugged and headed back to her office.

She didn’t mean anything by it, but man did that stick with me.

I went back through my photos, different folders this time, first adding plenty of photos of my wife before showing her again. Then I went back for round three and four. And eventually five. There are about a thousand images in that folder now. I went back to the the settings and found a screensaver called, “Sliding Tiles,” which shows about twenty images at once across the two monitors. Finally it was done.

A thousand image. Mostly taken by me but many taken by friends or family members. A few taken before I was even born. Lots of images of fish to be sure, but plenty of others too. Pictures of family. Pictures of friends I fish with all the time and friends I don’t see nearly enough. Pictures of dog and cats, past and present. Pictures on my guitars. Pictures from inside dark blues bars and from tops of mountains.

Pictures captured on film and on my phone. Pictures that fill my heart as they scroll past. Pictures that get me fired up to do something more than write about fly fishing. I’m starting to think these pictures may change my life again. None more than the pictures I added in round five. Pictures I purposefully haven’t looked at in a long time. The pictures of our boy, who passed a year and a half ago now.

I wasn’t at all sure I could deal with those pictures. I thought it might be a huge mistake putting them there, knowing it would be incredibly tedious to sort them back out. It was a kind of leap of faith. I stared at the export button for a while before clicking. Once it’s clicked it can’t be un-clicked. Like most things in life, especially where our loved ones are concerned, there is no command-z.

Like most guys with a Fishsaver, you’ll find me from time to time just sitting and watching it scroll past, when I should be working. I enjoy looking at the fish and the rivers, at the dogs and the guitars and certainly the photos of my wife, but there is usually one smiling face in particular that I’m waiting to see and he isn’t holding a fish. And in spite of my trepidation, when it comes, I am so very happy to see it.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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11 thoughts on “Fishsaver

  1. Very powerful post. Glad you had the courage to share. Remember to celebrate the time we had with those we loved, even when they passed well before their time.

  2. Thank you, Louis, for that rare shot “behind the scenes.” Having lost a son of my own, I know what you mean…

    I also have fish, scenery, family photos, etc. scrolling across my two screens at work, and they have initiated a lot of conversations–as well as bring back a lot of memories.

    Keep up the great work!

    P.S. How ’bout a post on difficult spring creeks? I’m now 0 for 2 on a local stream… Thanks.

  3. I heard a version of the story on the fishsaver on your great talk with April on the anchored (which actually got me introduced to the site, you are not nearly as big in Europe as you should be). I talked with my wife about the podcast and your story on it and how it made me think about my life. Her reaction to the story was “that sounds like passion”.

    Reading this post on a dull Monday commute made me think of the same things again. “inspirational” might get thrown around a lot but when you make someone think what and how one do with their life you really deserve it. Thank you for sharing the stories.

    ps. I kept waiting you to tell that you’ve re-named the folder to “Lifesaver” would seem appropriate.

  4. I remember when you first wrote about your son passing and thought that was a very powerful and diffacult thing to do.No parent should have to bear that pain. Here you did it again. Well done sir! Now I want to Thank G&G for all you have done for the sport, I’m new to fly fishing and tying (bout 2 year) and in no amount of words can I explain how much help I and many others get from your work. Monday morning posts truly do start my week. Thank you again.

  5. A gentle reminder to accept and embrace our life as a whole. It’s the good as well as the bad that makes us who and what we are.

    Thanks for the reminder, Louis. Keep up the good work.

  6. Louis, such courage. Glad you are on the path to healing, and that you and your wife are still in any this….together. My losses pale in light of your pain. I now start each Monday with new perspective. Much strength and many prayers to you and your family. Thank you for your transparency, and for G&G!
    Tight Lines,

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