Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Coming for Lake Trout, I run into Fred Matero

After disentangling six rods and reels--brought six because I didn't care to sort this out at home--and carrying three to the point, I spoke to who I later learned is a man by the name of Ben. He had caught a 16-inch rainbow. I tended to my rods, dipped my hand in the bucket for a shiner, and happened to look back his way. One of his rods bent, pulsing under a striking trout. I called out and by the time he looked, it was all over.

Back at my car for the last of my stuff, including a foldout chair, someone yelled my name. Fred Matero had just pulled in! Auspicious coincidence, because we just don't get many days any more when both have off to fish together. The temperature of about 60 degrees brought him out on a day off, and though the warmth made the fishing easy, the easy fishing yielded nothing to either of us.

Since Fred had marshmallows, mealworms, and Power Bait, I fished a shiner, marshmallow & mealworm, and Power Bait. Three rods, three baits. I hoped lake trout might have migrated in close to shore by now, and perhaps some have, but they do like that water really cold before they might get caught regularly. Some years they do, some don't. Ice covers lakes and ponds, so the water is cold, but I get suspicious about shallows warming slightly when it comes to sensitive trout. How a laker 60 feet deep could possibly tell the shallows' warming to just slight degree, I have no idea. But the whole ecosystem functions singularly in ways we know little about.

Fred and I tentatively committed to fishing the Meadowlands for stripers in April. I suggested trolling Hopatcong in May also, but Fred especially likes the strange allure of those tidal waters in the Lyndhurst area. After we parted, I thought about our jobs making very little opportune, when his suggestion that we go in the morning resonated as very possible, in spite of the fact that I have to start work at noon. I can take sleeping pills and try to nod off by 9:00 to get up at 4:30 or 5:00, and we can fish before 7:00. Two hours is really all we need.

We talked a lot about work. Both of us take an attitude of adjusting unpleasant demands to our own need to be happy, despite what's in the way. Five months ago, I felt like I was clobbered over the head; the new job put demands on me like no other, but though my usual activities seemed threatened, a stronger determination within me stayed calm and focused as if it would work out, which it has. Americans come from pretty strong stock. I sometimes think of the westward pioneers. The hardships they overcame, not just to survive but to flourish, were nothing to complain about because there wasn't time for that.

I told Fred I feel like I'm in a pressure cooker all the time. I stay up writing essays until 3:00 a.m., sometimes 5:00 a.m., and then I wake and go directly to my specialty meat counter job. And then I come home, spend a half hour, maybe an hour with my family, and then go back to work.

I continued, "I'm doing some of the very best work I've ever done. I sort of don't like to admit it, because I'd rather feel good. But all that pressure results in form I never achieved before."

Of course, I achieved plenty before the summer that needed to get done before I could do what I'm doing now.

Upon arriving today at 1:00 p.m., the news came on to announce the death of Carrie Fisher. I admired her. Or still do. After coming home, I told my wife she had a hard life, and of course, I didn't mean any disparagement.

"She never made it a 'woe is me' story. She had the courage to come out about her bipolar disorder, her drugs, and she was a really good writer," Patricia said.

"Yes. Hardship just is that. It doesn't warrant complaint or dependency," I said.

Hardship is the greatest opportunity for character.