Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lost Lunkers

Besides Hedden Park Lake on Tuesday, I did fish the Delaware and Raritan Canal for 45 minutes on Wednesday. I had hoped to fish it again on Friday. Wednesday the water remained stained, not so muddy as to preclude the use of anything but spinners, but off-color enough that I used a spinnerbait. Having well remembered the last I fished here and lost a good bass by casting a Senko into shadows on the opposite side, I tried to make perfect casts (some made the mark) right up against the far bank, then retrieve through shadow. 

Only once did this work. That small pickerel I caught and photographed got the hook. But it was certainly motivation enough to very much want to try again and perhaps catch a good fish.

Last night I wrote at fairly long length in one of my private, handwritten journals, reflecting a lot on fishing. I thought of a big walleye I lost on Lake Hopatcong two years ago in October, and realized that this is the most meaningful walleye I've hooked. Moreover, I think the most meaningful experience I've had encountering walleyes was a big one that took a big live chub I saved until last for my younger brother on the Delaware River in 1978 (back when I owned a boat and outboard, and even paid for it all at age 17). That fish was lost, too, and very big, having hit a chubb about six or seven-inches long I had collected myself with a bunch of other baitfish. That bass I lost at the canal a month or two ago means more than the pickerel I caught the other day. So many examples could be cited.

It always hurts. No double standard exists here. It's never that you want to lose a fish because that will mean more to you. So this is one of the mysteries of memory, motivation, and value. But you would know, of course, that if you had any intention at all of losing a fish to make it more memorable, you would guarantee that the memory be spoiled. Fishing done properly involves a total attempt at catch. It's just that inevitably losses altogether against our intentions happen. When it happens we feel the loss. I felt the loss of that walleye two years ago at times intensely for about six months. But I had no complaint. It was a curiously pleasurable pain. And it made me want to go walleye fishing October 2010 more than ever.

I wanted to know how big the walleye was. I will never know, and this mystery was produced by the situation of loss--of something. I can't even be certain it was a walleye. Had I caught the fish, the memory would be bright, conscious, and certain. Not unhappy, happy in fact. But less of a deep pleasure. 

I think it's a good argument for doing what really challenges with all your intention to succeed. If it's challenging you will experience some failure. It seem that the most happy people don't try very hard in life, and may seem they know that's their secret. But it could be that those who are happy often enough, so that they aren't actually lost to a morass, yet nevertheless take quite a few losses, lead more meaningful and ultimately pleasurable lives. Their happiness is deeper.  


  1. Great Article. You talk about the pain of losing that walleye. Another way of looking at it - not knowing for sure gave you the ability to create a vision of the fish as whatever you wanted it to be, and for sure that vision is great enough to bring you back.

    1. Great comment, Ed. Talk about coming back, I was so unfamiliar with the technology & format, I didn't think of simply replying right here. Hope all's well. I think you're down in Maryland... I see you have a blogger icon. I'll check it out.

  2. Great article. Ed said it well - the near successes sharpen one's vision of success, thereby amplifying motivation


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