Jumping Cues, Making Haste

The guide had the boat staked off on a flat on the edge of I-275 and the angler on deck stood poised to cast.

I don’t know if he actually did because I was driving southbound at 70 mph. Whoever they were, that’s the farthest they got into my visual memory–a split second freeze frame through the passenger window.

Still, If I hadn’t seen them…

Traffic paced up to 80 mph and I had somewhere to be and the water disappeared from view but the idea of me being on it didn’t. I had a brief but less menacing wander along the lines of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

The hard part of being a fisherman is the not fishing. Which sounds a little self-inflicted and absurd on the face of it. Sometimes having had the experience is enough of a thing, like watching the great migration in Kenya or checking out the gargoyles of Chartres. Sometimes something you did in the past, like high school football or geometry, stays locked in that place and you don’t mind.

But fishing brings the irrational desire to be doing it when you shouldn’t be, and the dangerous speculation that you’d be happiest doing it at all times.

When I start to think that way I’m drawn back to “Some Remarks,” the opening essay of Thomas McGuane’s The Longest Silence:

“Worst of all are the lamentations of the angler who has given himself entirely to the the sport and feels that sportsmen up for the week or the season only to return to jobs or family don’t understand him.

I’m afraid the best angling is always a respite from burden. Good anglers should lead useful lives, and useful lives are marked by struggle, and difficulty, and even pain.”

Even so, it doesn’t always stick. Especially in Florida.

So against better judgment, I pressed down the gas pedal and guided the rental car into the fast lane, and cycled through a few more scenarios that would put me on the water, and not that fucker on the flats who by now was probably deep into a 40-inch redfish.

12 thoughts on “Jumping Cues, Making Haste”

  1. I haven’t read that The Longest Silence, but just added it to my Amazon cart. It’s true about the notion of angling as respite. The most satisfying days I’ve had on the water are not the week long adventures, which have been fun, but generally the short trips scavenged from the work-a-day existence.

  2. that quote is the most concise explanation of the phenomenon of expert angler angst i’ve read. Thanks for that. I had boiled it down the notion that life is lived to the fullest through relationship, not experience, even though shared experiences deepen relationships.

  3. McGuane articualtes sentiments held by fishermen (and others) in a way that is pretty remarkable. it’s a totally obvious one but the “numb and soaring” bit at the end of that story is pretty poignant for many too i think. and then the part about knowing you’llhave to do it again…..

  4. It’s the gnawing that really gets to me; the constant tiny reminders that I am NOT fishing, but could be if I could just somehow wriggle out of the responsibilities that have trapped me…

    Then I remember that bills don’t pay themselves. Ah, sweet anguish. He’s right of course; the guys that fish a couple big weekends a year don’t understand us. Thanks for the beautiful quote, off to buy the book.

  5. when we were packing up the house a couple weeks ago i decided to donate most of my books to the local library. they were sorely lacking in the fishing department anyway.

    but i put my copy of the longest silence into my duffel bag. some books are too hard to let go of.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s