Monday, May 22, 2017

The Matter of Tuning In

Endurance tests this spring have brought me to some pretty scary edges, but today passed without becoming a trial. Here it is 1:43 a.m. as I begin writing, and I awoke at 4:15. a.m. I got Matt up 15 minutes later. As events turned out, I misjudged our point of departure from Bedminster; too much blue gathering in the sky made me think Dow's Boat Rentals would probably open a lot earlier than last I had read advertised. When we got there at 5:30, we found this was the case, but I felt no qualm, and we still got across the lake just as the sun broke over the trees to the east. We fished nearly four-and-a-half hours. Once home, I napped for an hour before going to work for a long shift.

Our first trolling pass through the belly of our favorite cove yielded nothing, and I feared a repetition of the barren fishing Mike and I experienced at the beginning of the month. I turned the boat about to pass in the opposite direction, gained about 50 yards and felt a nip (which shot me into electrical alertness), then a yank (the Rapala X-Rap then continued to run freely), and then a slam like someone who can bench press 450 arm wrestling me. The hybrid stripped 15-pound test braid from the reel before suddenly coming free, at which instant--the boat hadn't come to a halt--the rod in the holder braced to the transom bent low, line peeling from the spool. I caught this bass, photographed above.

Two nights ago I came upon a couple of Finesse Sinking Rapalas while shopping. Curiosity piqued, and I bought them. Last year, Brian Cronk had one X-Rap with him, on which he caught eight hybrids before I got a tap on a Rapala #9 Floater. On an X-Rap I caught a hybrid the same size as my first, and then a couple of passes yielded nothing, so I switched to the Finesse, quickly caught two more bass about the same size, and told my son he better switch.

We caught five altogether. Matt also caught a yellow perch way back in a distant cove we expected to find thriving with life, but it was as dead as December. Or worse. I guess the sudden chill chased the bass, crappie, pickerel into the thick of vegetation with no inclination to take chase. We caught some hybrids there last year, too, but found none of them today.

More trolling passes in our favorite cove mid-morning resulted in nothing but further practice. So we edged out a little deeper, anchored, and cast live herring weighted with split shots, imagining that the hybrids could have dropped back a little deeper. By comparison to anchoring and fishing bait slowly, trolling is a very active engagement. Today I felt a little high. My fourth year at it, I'm not about to draw comparisons to lake veterans, but it's like anything else requiring active skill. You know when you're doing it right--more or less--and that ups your feeling. But as I let herring swim on their own and nudged them along from time to time, my consciousness sank to a much deeper level, broadening not only within my mind, but through my senses. It was all about what I saw and heard. It was about a few conversational points with my son, too. I took in a very wide scope, pleased that from just this spot I could see how many square miles of lake I'm not sure, but the visage isn't square at all; it's circular, and I felt a peculiar paradox of large open area that seemed at the same time contained like any of the many ponds I fish. I contemplated this whole scene. Perhaps it seemed small because I could see the whole of it, given that the lake turns to the left, continues to the northeast, and continues to the southwest, but there are distinct landmarks that produce the illusion of the self-contained bowl of water you can see from this cove. I became aware that for once in how many months I can't even recall, some of my sanity returned.

Without circles, there isn't any of that. But there are vicious circles too. I work long shifts six days a week with loud music playing constantly. Even the songs I like: I'm 56 years old. Steely Dan is pretty long ago. Maybe one in 10. One in 20? Is a "good" song. When I began working there, I wasn't sure I would be able to take it. It's not that I don't appreciate music. Just the opposite. Well, you survive. But it is has objective effects.

This morning was a reminder that a real and rational world exists. It's just the matter of tuning in.

As we left Dow's Boat Rentals, sunlight illumined most of the elevation across the lake, though we crossed the lake with the sun just below the trees behind us.


  1. Replies
    1. I didn't find any evidence of it online. Just what they call this particular minnow plug.

  2. I like your stories. Hemingway-esque, with the outdoors themes. Always more to learn in them than fishing places and techniques. -- TEC

    1. Thanks. People seem, perhaps, to either like them--perhaps the more intelligent readers--or hate them. Glad you've commented because it goes to show maybe there's hope for more than shilling for the companies that make the things going along with places and techniques. Not that products are bad. But places are prior to application.


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