The Fish Taco, before even more stickers were applied.

Those who know me, and those who don’t but who have seen the Fish Taco, know that I’ve a certain penchant for stickers. Over the past 4 years the back window of the canopy became slathered with no fewer than a whole bunch of stickers: stickers representing pretty much anything to do with fly fishing, from conservation groups to product manufacturers, shops and guides. I’ve been proud to display said advertisements. Actually, advertisement may be the wrong choice of words—more accurately, by displaying said stickers, I was announcing my allegiance and proclaiming my passion for fish and fishing.

The fly fishing world is a stickery business—I wrote about it a few years ago when the Fish Taco sticker collection was still in its infancy (if so inclined you can read about it HERE). Not everyone likes stickers, and critics of said adornment use arguments such as, “I don’t like to advertise that I may have expensive fly fishing gear in my car.” Or in the case of the predictably unsupportive Mrs. UA, “Grow up.”  I’ve always dismissed said critics—I like stickers: they give cause to harken back to simpler times when a gold star or smiley face sticker was reward for having achieved relative greatness, or endured a visit to the dentist. To me, stickers have always represented the positive.

What’s not to like about this?

But slowly, it began to gnaw at me, one sticker at a time…this feeling that perhaps I wasn’t the best ambassador to represent these many entities; that I wasn’t worthy of their display. Was I merely a hack misrepresenting myself as something otherwise? The answer became painfully clear when I recently looked in the mirror, didn’t like what I saw, and asked, “If the tables were turned, would those entities want to be associated with me?”

Tools of a destructive trade.

And so a couple of weeks ago I grabbed my flat razor blade and alcohol-soaked rag and began to wipe the slate clean. Many of the stickers were slightly oxidized from the damaging UV rays of the sun—some were even beginning to peel around the edges. Others of higher quality had stood the test of time and it was those in particular that were harder to remove. Not physically harder, mind you, but emotionally—such a waste of such a fine product. I held back a tear as I peeled, scraped and wiped away the collection of adhesive-backed goodness.

The result is a large area of glass through which I hadn’t been able to fully see in a long time. Only one sticker remains.

A nearly blank slate.

As hard as my decision was, it was the right thing to do.  I am, if nothing else, an Unaccomplished Angler and it’s time I quit pretending to be anything else. In my defense I’ve never declared to be anything other than unaccomplished, but the assembly of stickers may have been confusing to others. It’s time I eliminated that confusion and owned up to my fate, fully.

I am what I am: nothing more and nothing less.