The first trout I ever caught, in upstate New York, came courtesy of the New York DEC stocking program. The first trout I caught on fly came courtesy of the fish hatchery at the Connetquot River. I spent a lot of time in the 1990s learning how to fly fish by targeting those stocked trout.
Though I agree with everything Kirk Deeter wrote in his Fly Talk post about hatchery fish, I was sad when the Connetquot hatchery closed in 2008. And I am happy with the report from Andrew Cuomo’s office that the hatchery is reopening in 2015.
I’ve listened to others mock the Connetquot for it’s prior reputation as a trout fishing fantasyland, and I’ve written about my own conflicted thoughts about it here before.
And of course you can take it deeper and delve into why growing trout in a hatchery only masks the larger problem about why wild trout populations in the region would be unsustainable. That is all true.
But for all that it is and isn’t, the Connetquot is an excellent resource as well as a learning ground for teaching angling ethics and stream stewarship. The place demands it, and the threat of a year-long or lifetime banishment for violations is not a vacant one. (Read about the rules and etiquette on the Long Island Trout Unlimited site.) I look forward to taking my daughters.
The last thing you want to do is humanize them because they’re not looking at the world in the same way. But they are looking at you.
Others may think we treat them like toys with the hollering and fist bumps that ensue from hooking them but that’s not what we do.
The eyes are alive and maybe their brains don’t process us like facial recognition software but their photoreceptors still collect the light. I’m no scientist but I know these fish remember.
Possibly (hopefully), some day 15 years from now this baby tarpon will be far removed from the swamps and moving along the coast, and it will notice the potential food twitching in its face that looks a little bit like craft fur.
There’s the chance it will catch sight of your refracted profile rising from above the waterline, which will trigger an historical recollection of trauma, and it will pass.
And if you’d like, you can blame me for that.
The good thing about fly fishing for peacock bass is that it don’t cost nothin’ except for sweat and time.
I’m lucky that way in that when I’m down in South Florida I can find ways to expend both. It’s funny, though, how many people in Florida don’t break a sweat. They move down for the weather and run from air conditioned cars to air conditioned houses or the restaurants that have their thermostats set at 64 degrees.
Another aspect of note is that, while driving through neighborhoods looking for new water, the farther you get from the coast the more oceanic the street names become. Nothing like being 50 minutes from the beach and headed west on Sea Breeze Lane.
I love it all, though. I’m useless for the winter things like steelheading but I can hang in a wilting corner of the Everglades all day long. If that’s the way the day goes down, it is a good day.
It’s not complicated. If you find the water and its surface temperature is in the 70s and the air temperature is in the 80s, they will be hungry. And if you cast they will chase. And when they do that and you watch it go down in the shallows it sets off a wave of opioid polypeptide compounds that washes over your neuro-receptors, and you are happy.
Once in a post I likened the darkened bars on the gill plates of a smallmouth bass to war paint.
In the last issue of The Drake, I wrote an essay about smallmouth bass where I described the “dark bands on the gill plates popping like war paint.”
Many times when you write for print it’s as if you send it out via pneumatic mail tube, never to be heard from again. So it was gratifying to get a package in the mail from an angler from Michigan named Jon Lee.
“That stuck with me,” he wrote of the line. “I paint fish and couldn’t get it out of my head so I painted it.”
Thanks Jon Lee, to me that’s about as cool as it gets.
There’s a vodka called Tito’s that reportedly has a moonshiner’s heritage and I drank too much of it. As this happened, the enthusiasm for fishing at sunrise crescendoed but everyone else involved knew it would no longer come to pass.
The rod tube and sling resting by the door would remain so.
In the morning, the moment of recognition to this did not come until after three tepid glasses of water and a round of seven push-ups.
Fishing and writing are two things I like to do that are predisposed to disappointment. Either from not doing them, or doing them and finding the effort unrewarded.
The rejection letter still sat better than the not fishing. Upon rereading, the supportive tone of it made it seem more injurious than it actually was. “You are a skilled writer but your submission lacks the necessary tension…”
I knew he was right. Without tension, I might as well have submitted instructions for building a cabinet
. To paraphrase something someone else said once that deserves recap, “Get to the point, and make the point as uncomfortable as possible.”
He had me until the last sentence, “Good luck with your future writing!” Which seems innocuous but for the exclamation point. Whenever I see one of those¹ I want to snap it over my knee like bonfire kindling
(1. Exclamation points should only be permissible in children’s books and text messages.)
“Everyone is influenced by everybody but you bring it down home the way you feel it.” –Thelonious Monk
These kids played on Letterman and I liked the song so I listened to it again.
The baseline reminded me of this song from the Raconteurs:
Jack White supposedly gets pissed about this sort of thing (witness his feud with the Black Keys), which is funny because he basically states in the documentary It Might Get Loud that his idea for the guitar-drums ensemble came from watching the Flat Duo Jets, before they added a bass player. (He also raves about them in Two Headed Cow):
White also once said he didn’t trust anyone who didn’t like Led Zeppelin, who might be the biggest musical plagiarists of all time.
But, hey, it’s ok to be influenced by someone else. Witness these J Roddy Walston and the Business fellows…
..who have a Kings of Leon vibe…
But then to me they all sound a bit like Uncle Tupelo covering the Stooges:
And Uncle Tupelo is among the best of my generation and they are both heavily influenced and original all at once, which is the best kind of thing…
So bring it down home kids, there’s always room for more.