Saturday, October 29, 2011

Miles Davis and the Return to Fishing

A frequent flyer on the right side of my brain, this half, owing to a right stuff of chemistry, behaves like a powerhouse. I've never believed it's abnormal, but different. Our culture is more suited to accommodate brain functions that serve ordinary means, rather than the wonder of why we ultimately do anything. A true culture of the arts and philosophy--not excluding angling, the outdoors, and business--allows for discipline without any crisis or conflict between how-to and the happiness of realization.

The right and the left sides of the brain can sort of reverse politics in a way that's confused, since the whole brain is really the actual fact. The left side is preferred today for its commonsense. But the right side represents or symbolizes the true home of productivity (including job creation). It's been thought to generates original ideas, passion, and love, although further research suggests the comparison between the two halves is not as divided as previously thought.. The right side was also thought to be responsible for authentic sexual response, intuition, and appreciation of beauty and value. It goes without saying that "the right side of the brain" tends to be marginalized as much as we remain trapped in cynical and uncaring attitudes, or caring, rather about getting things done in an unhappy way that would question why, desperately obsessed rather than experiencing happiness and joy. Surely a drive to get at the cause of our discontent--which is what the obsession really amounts to, if the notion of achieving understanding is repressed--could end with finding answers. 

On November 17th, 2004, I disembarked with my son, Matt, then five, for the Delaware River between Barryville, New York, and Narrowsburg, New York, Narrowsburg is about 110 miles from home. I remember the morning was partly sunny, fairly mild, maybe 50 degrees--the snow in the bottom photo is actually from March 2005 across the river from Barryville. After driving several miles up route 206, I put my Miles Davis, Doo Bop, c.d. on. The music never stopped until we arrived at the bait shop in Eldred, New York. I was on one of the most exquisite journeys I had entered into for years.

Matt felt perfectly happy. Although we spoke very little, he beamed with awareness every time I looked back upon him in the rear seat. (We hope this strange rite of distance from our young children--for their safety of course--hasn't affected them adversely.) It was as if he were cradled in my euphoria generated outward, connecting with him and my total environment.

I remember how the road fit in my hand. No longer bang, rattle, boom down the highway, but a seam of energy. Not coarse energy, like coal burning, but cosmic infusion, love itself. I hear nuance in music anytime, but it can strike hard and be in dissonant relation with other variations in the instrumentation. On that day the music's source gained transcendent resonance, with no loss of my awareness being anchored in the road. Matt's favorite piece on the c.d. is "The Doo-Bop Song." And if the most poignant passage of the entire collection is wondrously paradoxical when Andy Griffith's simple whistle (recalling fishing) rises over the drive and rage of the Davis band. Davis's subtle trumpeting over rages of instrumentation is reminiscent of Griffith's whistle.

And the deep bass drumming seemed to pound years of fishing left behind back into me. This trip--we caught a number of good sized smallmouth bass, a largemouth, and a pickerel--as exquisitely mystical as it was, seems most importantly to be the turning point in my life back to fishing as a serious recreational pursuit. 

During my teens I fished an average of about 285 days a year--I keep a log which records every day I fish since the start of 1975. At 18, I abandoned taking fishing seriously and fished only on occasion, maybe 30 days a year. I had undergone a conversion to interest in literature, philosophy, and psychology, studied all these subjects in college, but quit before I would have graduated to study and write while maintaining a shellfishing business. It didn't demand much time. Essentially it provided outdoor recreation. And it paid pretty well.

I never lost the outdoors. But it's good to be back at fishing. I'll never recapture just what I had in my teens, but that's not exactly the point. In a way it is the same American mainstream now as in 1978, which I departed from to do my writing and self-employment--very different from the high school to college to corporate job track. But now I too am a corporate employee, another phase I hope to grow out of into full time writing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Catch Marine Fish near the Gulf Stream: Outer Banks North Carolina Memories

The Outer Banks, North Carolina, is protected by both wise policy, and perhaps in an ironic way, nature. Hurricanes threaten all built on these islands and penninsula as if to make sure we never fully abuse their natural presence. Many dozens of miles of protected National Seashore allow for solitude even in mid-day summer sun. The Gulf Stream courses near, so mild weather visits during winter.

Fishing can be fantastic. I was eight in 1969 when my father took me to Kitty Hawk Pier, now removed after fatal hurricane damage some years ago. I caught 22 white perch, anadromadous fish rarely present in the Atlantic, but on this day enduring in droves. I had begun fishing that year, first in New Jersey's Delaware and Raritan Canal. I have forever after loved fishing North Carolina piers.

My son, Matt, and I have yet to try the end of Avalon Pier for king mackerel, but we may in the near future. The plan is to buy stern tackle for amberjacks beyond the reef of the Florida Keys, possibly next summer. Add very large groupers to the mix, possibly. I learned how to tie rigs with piano wire-like leaders in the summer of 2007. But we went out with surf rods! Whatever hit my ballyhoo--surely an amberjack--melted my 11 foot surf rod into a noodle. The fish absolutely slammed the bait drifted 25 feet down or so over 80 feet of water, dove into bottom coral, and ripped the line to shreds, all in a matter of seconds. 

Once we're done in Florida, we'll have most of what we need for the end of Avalon Pier. Then it's the matter of competing for space with the locals. I'm honestly not sure how this will work out if we do try.

So far, I've most enjoyed working a jigger, a Gotcha plug-jig, same used on New Jersey's Lake Hopatcong vertical jigging walleyes. I've caught weakfish and blues, but from the age of 17 have never brought a Spanish mackerel over the rail, the principal target of this approach. Many have slashed at my jiggers, but none have stayed on! It just raises the ante on my expectations every year we visit the Banks. 

We've got them trolling Clark spoons, which is plenty fun itself. The world record came from Ocracoke Inlet, 13 pounds, but most are closer to one and two pounds, some three. I've never heard of any recent over five. Cero mackerel are sometimes present in the Inlet, and these do average closer to five pounds. All of the Banks inlets, even the Oregon Inlet, are wild and free compared to ours in New Jersey. Fishing in Jersey is good and sometimes great. But in North Carolina you can virtually have an entire inlet to yourself. Likely you will see a few boats, but not much more.

I am myself a mix of straightforward, honest, factual conventionality, and also remote, strange, symbolic, visionary idiosyncracy, but the "idiosyncratic," at least in my case, is much more objective and open to being shared, than would be popularly supposed. It's sort of like that first photograph up top--you see it too. Perhaps you wouldn't have shot it, seen it to shoot. But now that it's produced, there you go. For me the Outer Banks somehow suits this paradox where I am in some ways better than anywhere else I've been.