Little time to fish, but I got an average stream smallmouth bass in the South Branch Raritan. Water's running a little high and turbid, no improvement since Tuesday, and since we've had no rain, it's odd to me; perhaps water is being let out of Spruce Run Reservoir upstream. Last Friday I had no rod in the car, but I stopped to check the river out and it was in better shape than now, even after more recent rain.
Thought I would probably draw another zero. A little bass socked a shiner at the surface about a dozen times, finally got it. I tightened up, nothing there--got the shiner. Then finally a bass took a shiner solidly & when I set the hook feeling strong resistance, hope shot up a bit before I knew it was a poppindocker. Let it jump itself off the hook while I held it out of the water. I sure don't mind catching them, but the chief challenge is to set the hook without gut hooking and still manage to catch the fish, so I miss plenty hits, but seldom have to feel the uncertainly about whether the bass will survive--which usually they do even with a hook in the gut. They are tough creatures; it's good to identify with fish because if you are like them, you can survive almost anything. I've caught plenty fish on the scale of years--trout and bass--with hooks partially obstructing food intake and sometimes nearly rusted out.
But I always have big bass in mind. It's not a big celebration when I catch a two-pound-plus smallmouth, but such a fish satisfies. Anglers are like the fish they relate to: strong, fit, powerful in nature. We are civil beings living in civil society, but we seek our deep, inner nature in relation to fish that arouse our willfulness and interest in living, that inspire our contemplative depth, not simple, direct predation as if we are fish, but the effectiveness of the life flow within us.