The ladyfish stupidly hovered in the vicinity, en mass, for an incredible length of time and stupidly chased anything that hit the water. And I stood there, stupidly, and cast to them. It was one of those situations where the hookup was preordained and no patience or skill or even thought was needed to make it so.
This happened during a trip to Florida last December and, knowing it was likely the last time I’d cast in 2013, it proved kind of cathartic.
Tennis elbow, according to the infallible WebMD, afflicts people in their dominant arm when they reach their 40s. That last little fact makes me the most indignant, because even though I’m at the age where any professional athlete not using steroids is retired, I should be able to fish without consequence.
The elbow situation itself is a minor annoyance for the most part, except when trying to cast a fly rod. Or holding the rod while exerting pressure on a hooked fish. So I haven’t been doing it.
This is the longest I’ve gone without casting a fly rod since I first picked one up in 1994 or 95 or whenever. In its absence I’ve been doing some other stuff like:
Watching Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee
Watching Beware Mr. Baker
Playing air hockey.
Not fishing has also made me realize that fly fishing has been my longest continuous indulgence into any one thing. As a kid I read all of Stan Fischler’s columns in Hockey Digest¹ and could name the backup goalie on every NHL team. In my teens I could spend hours stringing traditional pockets into lacrosse sticks and in college I knew by sound the 300 most obscure reggae bands² in the Western hemisphere. I also saw a bunch of jam bands a bunch of times so maybe that counts although those who are obsessed with jam bands are way more into them than someone who would mention it so casually in a one-off reference. (There are encyclopedias.)
Why fishing has had the most staying power, I don’t know. At what point does something we like to do build its own self-sustaining momentum? And at what point does the point of self-reflection about it become beside the point? There are a million other directions to go:
In the end I don’t really need to know why I need to do it³, or if I even need to do it, I just like to do it more than I like to do a lot of other things, and that’s enough. There’s no real reason to explain or justify a fishing injury or what ladyfish are or why someone would stand around for unchecked amounts of time casting to them.
1. This was pre internet so you could only watch a game a week on the USA Network. Hockey Digest was the only other way to stay connected, but–as with anything–the lack of information allowed for more time to ruminate on the information available. For instance, it led to my long held belief that there should be a section called “best players with cool mustaches before mustaches were cool” in the hockey hall of fame. On the first ballot would be Charlie Simmer, Lanny McDonald and Michel Goulet.)
2. This band called Tishan we used to see all the time that was hailed as South Florida’s Premier Reggae Band might be the most obscure, if you’re keeping track. Then again it could be one of the early reggae djs named Tippa Irie.
3. As much as people like to call themselves “obsessed,” it’s not like you have a house of cats or need radical treatment for it.