Little Faces

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.

Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat

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.

Enough Of Your Borax, Poindexter

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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.

Revisiting The Razor Wars

Schick sent a Hydro five-blade razor sample in the mail and I tried it. I still like the Gillette Fusion better and I still haven’t tried the Pro Glide with Flexball because I really don’t think I need my shaves to get any closer. We’ve made some pretty big leaps over the past several decades to get from straight edge to this point.

But getting the free razor reminded me of a great expose on the disposable razor blade industry that the New Yorker ran 16 years ago. The article stuck with me for several reasons. Partly because there are not many magazines out there willing or able to delve 14,000 words into razor blade technology.¹ It’s one of the reasons I both love and hate the New Yorker at the same time. I love it because it practices longform and literary journalism at the highest level. Hate it because often the people who like to talk about what they’ve read in the New Yorker seem to do so specifically because they like to show off the fact that they read the New Yorker. (As if that in itself is an estimable endpoint.)

But what I like most about that razor article is that it reminds me that if you write well you can write about pretty much anything. John McPhee demonstrated the same thing with his 17-pound book about  Interstate 80.

But back to the razors. These things all have five blades now. Five. How will they top that? There’s got to be six or seven blades coming down the pike, maybe that you can wear in the form of some hip looking wristwatch. I hope somebody has something interesting to say about it.

1. I’m only guessing at 14,000 words but everything in the New Yorker seems to run that long. Except the cartoons.

War Paint, Redux

Once in a post I likened the darkened bars on the gill plates of a smallmouth bass to war paint.

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.

war paint

 

Best Practices For Paradigm Shifts

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.)
 
 

 

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