The water outside the inlet looked glassy and the rain bait made audible splashes as they circled together and jumped to escape pursuit. Bluefish caused this. They appeared as bright flashes when they turned sideways and slashed through the tiny fish with their mouths open. Once in a while one would break the surface with its forked tail. Then everything would go down but fish oil slicked on the surface and the water glittered from the refraction off thousands of tiny free-floating scales. Evidence of dismemberment.
One bait ball remained tight and we idled over to it and I witnessed something I had never seen before. The rain bait pulsated and we made casts around the edges and waited for the thump. Something peeled away from the bait ball and followed my fly but it was not quite right. It swam lazily behind right up to the boat, and another followed and they were red and clumsy and did not eat. We moved closer and watched as two dozen of their kind fanned their pectorals and jacked the bait. Sea robins.
Hey man, this is the ocean. Everything eats everything, and everything’s looking for a reason to go off.
A tree falls across the road barricading you from where you want to go and there’s no way around it and the people already past it aren’t going to stop and look back on your account, so the only thing to do is pour gasoline into the chainsaw.
DIY is the prevailing ethic behind most of the blogs out there in the fly subculture. There are no set rules as to what one is or has to be and anyone that tells you otherwise is not worth the breath he just wasted.
I am proud to be part of two projects that have come forth via DIY channels in the past year, with my participation in them a direct result of doing this blog. Allow me to self-promote:
Pulp Fly: Volume One came out in April, but it started way before that. Bjorn Stromness of Bonefish on the Brain came up with the idea and assembled a roster of contributors–of completely different ages, backgrounds, home waters, influences, styles, motivations, and reasons for putting pen to paper. The stories are as different from each other as the people who wrote them, and that’s what I like most about it. (Homogeneity kills.) And that we did this ourselves.
Thanksgiving 2002. I don’t know why I felt compelled to do it, maybe an insecure need to prove I actually did catch that bass on a fly rod. Although in reality it proves nothing; it could have been a stage prop for all you know. (It wasn’t, piss off.)
A recent post by Bows and Browns reminded me of my personal evolution in fish-related point and shoot.
I have a large catalogue of hero shots that will likely sit unviewed for generations until my offspring’s progeny discover them in a hidden box and discard them after the estate sale.
For a while I wanted to document everything. I bought a sleek and compact Elph and thought that Eastman Kodak really hit on something big there, only to throw it in a drawer after purchasing my first digital and taking advantage of all 3.8 megapixels.
Taking one or two pictures per season increased to one or two a trip, then ballooned into memory cards filled with images of me and my friends and sometimes total strangers hoisting bodies. I filled three albums with pictures depicting some variation of the fish across the midsection, a montage of bad lighting and autofocus.
The last pages of the last album remain unfilled. If anthropologists look only at these and not my hard drive, they’ll hypothesize I quit fishing or died in 2006.
The digital cam is still a bad habit–the waterproof version is point and shoot oxycontin–but the fish burned into silicon always seem diminished. But the ones that exist only in the hippocampus somehow get meaner in recollect.
He was a Brit living in Singapore and he smoked cigarettes that smelled like incense. He kept buying us expensive vodka as a reward for our work and, at some point, suggested it would be a good idea to snort it.
He turned out to be a fisherman and he told stories about chasing trout in Pakistan and we chose to believe him. He headed an agency branch and traveled Asia to work on ad campaigns and he appreciated our mindless intern support over here.
He wanted us to try absinthe but of course we couldn’t get it so he ordered some 100 proof. Abby started to slump in her chair and I found myself unable to stop talking about this one Adirondack brook trout.
We later found out he won multiple One Show pencils for his work but when he left all we remembered was he wanted us to meet at the docks for his morning charter.
By that point we realized we’d been done in by a professional. And there’s only so much you can do when you can’t even hold it together.
The fishing has been sucking. Here’s a chance where we can all actually do something about it. Rather than mince words, I’ll paste them directly from a mailing by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation:
In a matter of days, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) will meet to discuss the fate of menhaden (AKA the most important fish in the sea). At the end of that meeting, it will adopt an addendum to its menhaden management plan, which will determine new overfishing thresholds and target fishing rates.
Now, more than ever, we need your help. In 32 of the past 54 years, we have overfished menhaden, and its population now stands at its lowest point on record—a mere 8 percent of what it once was!
The striped bass of the Chesapeake, and therefore the Eastern Seaboard, got a dose of good news this week with a big spike in the Young of the Year numbers.
I spoke briefly with my friend John Page Williams of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation about it, and he said it has everything to do with ideal weather conditions during spawn and early life stage.
Of course, the best news for the striped bass in the long run could come out of the ASMFC meeting in Boston in two weeks. Williams and his friends in the CCA and other conservation groups have been working hard to ensure that the result comes down in favor of protecting the bass. “It looks to be a landmark vote,” said John Page.
Also of paramount importance is what happens to the menhaden. The ASMFC has to vote on whether to raise the population threshold from eight percent to 15 percent, as explained in this article from the Richmond Times Dispatch.