Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cross Creek Lake Largemouth Bass and More on Photography and Writing

In 2005 I fished Cross Creek Lake, western Pennsylvania, with a fishing and photography friend going way back to high school days. I caught five bass, losng one that could have been very good sized, five pounds or so. We fished from a rental with a five horse. Back at the launch as noontime neared, I spoke to two guys pulling in, steering a nice bass boat.

"Catch any?" I said.

"Some sun. How about you?"


"Five what?"

"Bass of course."

"That's not a bad catch today," one of the guys said. You can see in the photo it was a super cold front day. We weren't on the water before dawn, either.

"This lake probably has more five-pound bass than any other in western Pennsylvania,' I was informed.

The secret? I wrote an article for The Fisherman soon thereafter on "Natural Wormin"" Not using live nightcrawlers, but fishing plastic worms weightless in the way that entices bass to take. The best I can sum it up: you have to get yourself into a place that is part of the natural environment. Only then can you intuitively sense doing just the right twitch at the right time.

As far as I know, to speak of getting one-with-nature in the bassin' community is taboo because it's all about machismo man-against-nature, the ego confronting the challenge, not becoming what it is and therefore making the right moves--at least sometimes--naturally.

The friend I fished with, his professional work in photography reveals complex artistry; more in a natural way is going on than the composition principles I am limited to as a photo hobbyist, though I try to enact skills as I continue to improve on results. We met in photography class at Lawrence High School, taught by a neighbor of mine--he paid me to mow his lawn--who first taught at Freehold High School, also New Jersey, before coming to Lawrence. One of his electronics students was Bruce Springsteen. But I remember him for the photography he taught and the neighbor he was. Conversation quieted on Cross Creek Lake, each of us focused more on fishing, but over the full course of that weekend with him, we covered a lot of ground.

A lot of things inspire my photography. I fell in love with taking photos at age nine. As soon as my second article got published on fishing when I was 16, I spent saved cash to buy a 35mm Pentax. Taking fishing photos has always been fun, and it's not easy, either. I still look up to a lot of other angling photographers, but have always framed other subjects besides. I think or like to think my favorite is portraits or whole-body-in-action photos of people. I have a fantasy of going to Manhattan with my long range zoom and actually sneaking around. You don't publish such candid work, not if the subject can be identified. You store it on file and maybe it's of value in 50 years' time. Mostly, I manage to get pictures of people in contexts where I have the OK, yet events unfold naturally.

Naturally, people seem to be my greatest inspiration because I have always been interested in character. I was not a bookworm as a teen, but a magazine addict who read newspapers daily, through I read some books, but avoided novels because I felt the abstraction took me out of real life. Science, and more specifically zoology, had been my passion from age four. Nevertheless, Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, assigned reading at the same high school, interested me. Very soon thereafter, I somehow got hold of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. I was absolutely hooked and from thereon devoured literature. I kept on fishing, too.

So that's an account of Cross Creek Lake with a friend from way back in high school, where it all sort of started for us. It also started there for Jon Stewart, former host of the Daily Show, a classmate of ours. To mention his success is to take things deep inside the establishment we fishermen like to take leave of, but not only has Jon given all that up to pursue his love of animals far and away from the social insider's rap, we fisherman take what we become outside to freshen and redeem the same old, same old inside where most of us work.

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