Friday, January 29, 2016

Delaware River's Deepest Depth: A Bass and Walleye Nexus

He's very much all grown up now, but this doesn't seem long ago, when Matt and I rode to Barryville, NY, in November, Narrowsburg further upstream in the back of my mind. I learned of the 113-foot depths during my teens, the deepest of the river, at least the deepest above the tide line at Trenton, and I suspect deeper than any depths of the river below and the Delaware Bay, without knowing for a fact. I studied a map, since I had a fascination for maps and places designated. Naturally, I wanted to go to Narrowsburg sometime.

Modern life or postmodern life or post-postmodern life, whatever you want to call it now, isn't much different than the 1970's when I fished constantly. Call it a "Space Oddity" if you want; there's no doubt that with the demon speed of modern transportation and the angelic lace of the limelight, the modern mind is abstracted in space compared to just little more than a century ago with people much more connected to the land and water. Anyone can contradict me on the difference between now and the '70's by citing the abject fascination with electronic devices. There's no doubt we're even more in our heads as a result, and less reading of newspapers and books means the quality of mind is changed, since reading print on paper is a different experience and closer to nature. Or you could say viewing and reading electronic screens is closer to atomic energy levels in nature, as if we're trying to dig worm holes in the fabric of time to other places.

I got away from my habit of fishing at the age of 18. Just after I had dreamed of becoming a tournament bass pro at 16, I became utterly enthralled with literature, which had seemed very unlikely, because until my junior or senior high school year, I hated English classes, at least those besides journalism, which I liked because I was getting published in magazines on fishing at 16. I did like composition class, 11th grade, the first step to what some may see as my demise, because keeping a personal journal was required.

I got hooked. Like a drug more addictive than nicotine. Soon I read every book I could grab. And many years later, I now have about 100,000 pages of these journals I've handwritten.

Fishing? I kept fishing. As Eric Evans has observed, I never lost the passion. But the serious habit--about 250 days on the water each year--fell by the wayside. Matt got me back at it with fervor in 2004. Steve Slota had turned us on to Barryville in June that year, the two of us and his son Tom, and Matt, catching dozens of smallmouths up to three pounds as we floated down in a vinyl raft. Steve also caught a walleye on a Rapala Countdown. We camped at Cedar Rapids, at the time owned by a woman I've become acquainted with and Steve knows from way back. I'm having a senior moment and forget her name. She runs another place in Barryville now.

So late in November, I had one of my rare inspirations, and I guess I say rare only because modern life or whatever it is, is so contrary. I get inspirations like this all the time. And even though I gave up fishing recreationally so much, I became a commercial shellfisherman at 19, as hard core outdoors as you can get, which involved working in bay brine January and February wearing wetsuits.

Did I get the idea to drive Matt to Barryville and try to catch walleye, or wasn't it premonition, because I'm not moved by "ideas" in some form like dead, encrypted information. Maybe I'm moved by ideas in the Platonic or Hegelian sense, great affective wholes in the way the Bible speaks of a man being commanded to act. Well, I only behaved as if commanded when I utterly gave way to manic episodes during my youth and seemingly survived them only by miracle. I always consider, judge, emend, choose.

This is a blog post, so I probably can't say so much and keep your interest. Perhaps I will write a longer, subtler version of this post and submit it to a literary journal. 

Unfortunately, Matt got skunked on this adventure northward into New York, but I caught a pickerel, two nice smallmouths and a largemouth in Barryville, before we took the leap and rode all the way up to Narrowsburg. It's like a lake, the river wide and rounded. One boat had fishermen in it working a distant shoreline. They were sort of silhouetted in dim light with haze on the water and clouds overhead. We caught nothing in Narrowsburg, plying a shoreline, but it was like feeling great weight of water, and of course I didn't fail to tell my son how deep.

A sort of homecoming. In my teens, I had wondered about this place. Wanted to go, of course. And in November 2004, it was all beginning again.    


  1. You mention your manic episodes just frequently enough to make me ask you if you gained something from them?

    1. Just about everything, to say it off the cuff. Eternity.


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