Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fresh Angles From Fishing: Conceptuality in Contemplation

Happy New Year to everyone reading this post within an appropriate limit of time. I've really had a lot of fun blogging this year since almost April, not to mention fishing; we all know fishing's fun, and I have you, the reader, to thank for keeping me motivated.

Today I thought I'd riff on an idea more like the way I write by hand in notebooks than I have for these posts, only it has to do with fishing or angling. Until recently, I always recognized the word "angling' for its obvious dictionary defined meaning, to fish, with connotations of class and refinement. I read Izaak Walton in 2010. Until then The Compleat Angler was to me one of those classics I hadn't read. Walton worked in an iron works shop until he kept his own, retiring at 50 to a farmhouse he bought, concerned thereafter with fishing, socializing, and writing his books. He wasn't born to the higher classes and never separated from his modest origins, although he became friends with wealthy and well known men. No one else has defined angling as has Walton, and angling has in essence nothing to do with the pretensions of class and refinement; everything to do with the spirituality that really compels anyone to fish.  

I knew of Izaak Walton and his book from my boyhood, my mother having spoken of it to me when I was about eight and had just begun to fish and to understand what a classic is. I was quietly amazed such a book was written on fishing. I actually did not quite believe it, skeptical. Surely it was another of those books about how to fish. But it is about how to fish, only in a way integrated with the motives of why do it.

Since reading Walton, specifically about "fishing with an angle" (italics mine), a rod, the meaning of the word angling has permutated in my mind in a way which isn't wholly clear, but owes perhaps the most of the idea to this man who sought a way beyond the social conflicts of his time. In a nutshell, rather than fishing around for the unseen below, literally in the water, this idiosyncratic meaning of mine attached to angling suggests a purely mental aspect, certainly not everything angling entails.

We always fish in an implicit relationship to civilization. But we're out when we fish. Therefore, and in fact, we have the opportunity for new conceptual takes or angles on the civilization we come from. Our recreation, fishing or angling in all the possible meanings of the words, is quite contemplative. And everyone who fishes does this mental exercise I've suggested to some degree. I know that often when I'm out, I'm really out, I don't think of where I've come from at all, although surely my subconscious processes do. But in crossing that threshold of return, the borderland between the wild and civilization during a homecoming, we're often surprised at how other the "ordinary" world seems. We've gone away from it, so upon coming back, it's other to what we've acclimated to. This affords an opportunity to experience usual states of affairs in fresh ways.

If you pay close enough attention, you may find your thoughts subtly surprising. I can't remember any to give specific examples, perhaps I will in some future posts, but beyond doubt contemplation is not limited to aesthetic appreciations of the environment and emotional and spiritual release. Conceptual angles arise that may make living back home more interesting, easier to work through if problematic, and renewed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Inflatable Boat Should Inspire Fresh Fishing

Sometimes someone else has to see the obvious for you. I've known about inflatable boats of course; I just have never seen the inexpensive purchase of such to be the solution to the problem my son and I have had: wide ranging fishing without a boat, renting where we can, and otherwise taking invitations, practicing otherwise, on occasion, contortions of shorebound angling, such as we did at White Lake in September (photographed), with virtually no room to cast. My brother Rick bought Matt an inflatable capable of carrying over 800 pounds. Uninflated, it will just fit on our porch. I simply have to get a used electric with plenty of thrust, and three life preservers.

I laughed, struck by the irony, when Matt stripped the wrapping paper. It will make this coming year a whole new adventure. Ever since we tried White Lake, a most interesting 60-some acres of gin clear, Round Valley Reservoir-like water, welling up from deep ground water as the result of an ancient, immense sink hole, I've had it in mind that this attractive lake--and Splitrock Reservoir--are inaccessible to trailer rigs. We are not equipped to challenge the Delaware, and not so advantaged for Round Valley (on very windy days, forget it) or Hopatcong, but this will also do for Merrill Creek Reservoir at 600-some acres (and possibly larger trout now than Round Valley, Steve at Lebanon Bait and Sport told me this is true, and Steve was expertly informed), Sheperd Lake, Delaware Lake sometime possibly, Spruce Run for hybrids at night (I'll also buy lighting) and I do want to get back out on Little Swartswood. A very good friend of mine lived right on that small lake in 1992 and had a rowboat in the water, tethered to a tree in his backyard. 

The topwater fishing blew me away. I recently wrote, in the "Miles Davis and the Return to Fishing" post that our Delaware River trip to the mouth of the Lackawaxen River (and Zane Grey's former home) sealed my fate as a returned fisherman. But I had begun keeping my fishing log again in 1992 (hiatus from 1983). It's not that I didn't fish in-between those years, I just had to let go taking it as seriously as I had in my teens. Those teen years had been a way of life and a beautiful thing, hell-bent on staying on the successful side of the line between success and failure at fishing. But when I went away to college, I actually took academics seriously.

Miles Davis, Zane Grey, what do they have in common? Quite a lot I suppose. At any rate, I appreciate them both, and both were maverick escapees from the expected grids that try to wrap things up (and us), putting tracking cookies all over the packages. I am a free man. There are secrets I keep no one will ever know.

But I tell you, I guardedly expect a good year fishing. My wife may be losing her job, no fault of hers, my son wants to do a lot more snake searching, but it could be, thanks to Rick, the most interesting year fishing yet.

Anyhow, I'm reading Zane Grey on Fishing. His spirit--he candidly admits his boyishness--is something so fresh and pure it's as alive now as it was early in the 20th century, even though, for the most part, it's so high up there in clean air that if you were to breathe it, you might need to watch out for friendly suggestions that you visit a psychiatrist, and submit to the armies monied by billions of pharmaceutical dollars. It's as if they don't like a free man. It's as if they think a free man has what all of their power can never obtain.

Friday, December 23, 2011

New Jersey Ice Fishing in Question this Winter

This rarely happens--Round Valley Reservoir frozen enough to ice fish, let alone frozen at all. But this was last year. All this week temperatures have climbed over 50, usually well over, yesterday felt like 65. The reservoir, as deep as it is, retains enough heat to provide shoreline trout fishermen a winter of recreation, usually, and this winter I'm sure will be one of them.

But the likelihood remains for some ice, and the best ice fishing, in my experience, is before any snow gets on it. Some ice fishermen are so eager for opportunity, I guess particularly during a winter when much isn't likely, that they go out with marginal safety. If you're a beginner, my best advice is to find a reliable someone who will take you out without risking your life. The Knee Deep Club of Lake Hopatcong is a good one to join for more reasons than this one alone. The larger lakes don't freeze evenly; you need to always know how thick the ice is you will traverse.

Bad days for fishing are best. Those bluebird days with abundant sunshine penetrating fresh, clear, snowless ice down through clear water make a beacon of shiner scales below tip-ups, and chrome spoons fished on jigging rods. Largemouth, pickerel, northern pike, hit in reaction. In fact, only under such black ice/blue sky conditions have largemouth--a number of them--taken a shiner, run perhaps five yards of line from a tip-up, and dropped the bait. These fish didn't care to feed. It was aggressive reaction to the flash of the shiners. Otherwise during winter ice fishing, a bass takes a shiner and would probably run all the line off the spool if it wasn't attended to.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Awaiting Ice Fishing and the New Year

I suppose some stripers still come out of the suds at night this late in the game. On a calm surface, I bet a needlefish, with a teaser ahead and just underneath, can still draw a take. But I just got surgery done for the miniscus of my right knee, so I'm out of the game awhile. I fished three or four nights this fall, and it was dicey sometimes with hard wash, sinking sand, and that disabled knee. I went almost three months before I finally conceded it needed medical attention.

Looking forward to ice fishing. Mild winters like that we have this season, apparently, we usually fill with at least a week of safe ice, although usually much more time than that. Walleyes are being caught while vertical jigging on Hopatcong, a few go out and catch them, as well as, possibly, hybrid stripers, which also come through the ice on jigs occasionally. Trout remain available from shore at Round Valley, and I think I'll try a few times for them over the winter. I like to set out a line, then sit back and read as I wait, checking line avidly from time to time.

This may not be my last post of the year, I wrote down some big ideas for posts, if I can find where I put the paper, but looking back over the year, it was a good one for me. Particularly May and June I did so well with largemouth, catching two and three-pounders on a routine basis, a regular exercise that essentially got me out of routine, but was nice for the dependability. All sorts of adventures are in this blog's archives, and will haunt the web for a long time to come. I look forward to the coming year, especially hoping now to catch stripers and bluefish in the spring.

Could be fun on the ice yet. I finally gave up the split bar--except for fresh ice. Bought a brand new Eskimo power auger. But that iron rod of mine is special. I will never let it go. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Getting Out to Fish: Taking a Chance on Stripers

I do find it odd that while the general account of the fall striper run is of the best in about 50 years, the best in a long time for sure, I got out and surf fished five or six times for not a single striper. I had one on for about a second-and-a-half, long enough to tell small, five pounds at best. I sort of see that Seaside Park ferris wheel, like Christmas in an ironic way, as a roulette wheel.

The stripers are either in the surf before you at the moment, or not. I just hit it losses this fall. To really be knowledgeable, including means of gaining fresh, pinpoint information, is to put the odds in your favor. No excuses, but I live all the way out here in Bedminster, don't have a cell phone network besides my brother in Wall, and otherwise I'm limited to the internet and phoning baitshops. All that is pretty general when striper action is very local. So I settle on the little I can do and every time I go, I gain some in experience. Every time I go...I start thinking about my dream to do better in the surf some day. One recent night with waves as high as 12 feet, I bulleted my Ava over to try to reach any fish just beyond--conditions were pretty good, one night was moonless with fairly light surf.

I also got skunked on all four short recent outings to Round Valley for shoreline trout, limited to a single rod each of these trips. Still, things seemed to just not go my way. I am grateful for the steelhead my son and I caught a month ago, and look forward to good ice fishing, if we get any sustained ice. If not, I think I'll try fly fishing the Pequest River. I would like to try for walleyes in the Delaware, although that dream essentially is of doing it by boat, as I have done many years ago successfully. I could try the humble fishing that the Delaware and Raritan Canal offers, but the last time I tried that was not a happy occasion, I think I'll stick with Round Valley a few times over the winter, and return to the canal next summer. This past summer the largest bass I've ever had on in the canal took a Senko, and that made for an interesting lunch break.

As always, it's good to get out. To have walls around me is to be all too surrounded by myself after awhile. Exercising practicalities lets you forget about things otherwise important, but which tend to lose their true importance by getting over done. And I really believe there's nothing like fishing to exercise practical skills recreationally. I like eco-tourist birding, for example. But that's never hands-on as fishing is, practicality which gets you out of yourself. It can involve a monoscope or binoculars; it involves difficult identifications; it can release the spirit into a higher state, but I don't find it grounds me to this planet as fishing does. 

There's a time and place for everything; I pursue many activities. And fishing is not only fun, it's interesting. It gets me thinking anyhow. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Contrary Consideration of Izaak Walton

I hope the title of my previous post does not imply political freedom in America is coming to a close, with the haunting question about what it was for, rather than from, meaning that we as a nation just never got it together to produce a culture that sustained the ideals of our Founding Fathers. At least some of them, and I suppose all of them, knew that this was to be an experiment in freedom, if an unlikely test I can't say. I opened my blog for the first time since last weekend, read the title, and received it with this awesome recognition.

I don't think political freedom can survive without an intellectual and artistic culture that unifies a society. If the mind is reduced to too much arbitray chaos, then the basis of a free society, objective law, goes the way of subjectivity, insanity, and force without the rule of due process. However, as I find people and things in my everyday life, invariably I am encouraged by almost everyone's being purposeful, focused, and more and less polite--when I encounter rudeness and distrust it always is due to misunderstanding. Things have not fallen apart and we still have an opportunity to build bridges of the mind to hold this nation together.

Angling in America is not really an isolated form of escapism, something we do of which we are perhaps subtly ashamed for its being close to nature, rather than us remaining in clean, man made, well-lit places. (But no place is more brilliant than a frozen lake with snow at the height of a bluebird day, as we might ice fish.) I do not believe that Izaak Walton is beyond criticism, if it's really his supportive critics more than he who have interpreted The Compleat Angler as anti-capitalistic Anglicanism (Episcopal Christianity), the essential point of angling being to get away from The Beast, as it were, as if capitalism were ultimately something to despise, resent...and be victim to, at least in this life. 

Walton himself seems to have been much more in reaction to the English civil war during his lifetime in the 16th and 17th centuries. He not only wanted no part of that war but to help counter it; he wanted to do his part to preserve Anglicanism, which is not at all anti-capitalist, if capitalism is understood to be the system of the mind. To my understanding, the Episcopal Church, epi-scopal or overseeing--the High Church--is inextricable from intellectuality and trenchantly concerned with the affairs of this world. If so, then it affirms the system of the mind, the role this system plays for creation and production in any and all fields, including the artistic. I am in full agreement with Walton that recreation is something best practiced outside routine, except for its own routines. No evidence I've found suggests that Walton despised his work as an iron tradesman, and to return to work as under oppression is nothing to be proud of, except for good work done in spite of the fascist element, which capitalism, ideally, is completely free of.   

Monday, November 28, 2011

What was the Freedom for? Night Fishing Stripers Seaside Park New Jersey

This past week I managed to get skunked at Round Valley Reservoir, lunch hour, twice, and to finish at Seaside Park fishing the night surf with my brother Rick under a moonless sky as Orion rose very slowly out of the ocean. Rick promised that on this night we would catch stripers. The man--I'm not much of a regular and don't know his name--at Betty & Nicks pretty much assured the same. The past couple of weeks have been billed as the greatest in 50 years and so on and on. Beaches have been lined almost shoulder to shoulder at daybreak. But leaving Bedminster at 4:19 p.m. I felt very sure the same bad luck would haunt me. I've fished five nights for stripers and caught none. 

The fact is, no matter how good striper fishing along the Jersey coast gets, it's always local. My brother and I had a long conversation with another angler on the beach and Rick mentioned that over a hundred bass were weighed in Friday at Betty & Nicks.

"Yeah, but more than 500 fisherman were after them! I know! I was out here!."

Rick had made the point to me earlier that most of the action was resulted from buggy runners. If you do have 4-wheel drive and a permit, when bass are around, it can be pretty simple so long as you have miles of beach at your disposal. You sight the birds, stop, get out and throw metals, plugs, or paddletails to nail the bass.

Rick's had a lot of success at night. He doesn't have the time to be a real beach hound with the cell phone ringing reports in all day, but he's caught bass in the 20-pound class in the fall surf at night, and hooked one he thought was over 30. Some nights he catches 20 bass in a couple of hours, others disappoint him. He usually catches something. 

I've caught my share of bass, and lost one over 30 pounds--by day and in June. This fall every night I got out was warm, little wind--beautiful, lush. I'd be happy to fish in a 30-degree breeze and catch a few keeper size. But it's a long drive from Bedminster--Seaside Park 140 miles round trip. Sandy Hook and down to Long Branch is closer, but most of the fall action is Point Pleasant and below.

I had thought of writing another reflective piece like the previous on contemplation and fishing. This would be on freedom and fishing, although I decided to make the title subtle instead of obvious like that. But I'm not in the mood tonight. Come to think of it, after last night I just don't feel like it. It was cool watching Orion rise. Rick saw a meteor. Best of all we took our loss lightly and ended the night in real good spirits.

But there is more to fishing than either contemplation or freedom to feel  release from routine--catching something often enough is of course very important. Rick and I fished two-and-a-half hours. And after a half hour or so my paddletail bumping bottom seemed worse than lonely; it is the fact, often enough, that the surf, perhaps for many miles, is completely devoid of stripers. At least when you fish a lake for bass you know, if you know how to find bass, some are down there near your lure. And to contemplate the absence last night, especially when so many have been caught recently, was opposite to freedom. The philosopher Nietzsche asked what freedom is for instead of from. And last night it was for nothing at all but being out there together.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Contemplation and Fishing

Contemplation is what it's all about. To "fish" for something, anything--an idea, a lost set of keys, or a walleye--is to probe with the mind in a way that, at its best, is certain by the intensity of focus or concentration, yet is uncertain about the prospect of outcome or result. 

Seasoned anglers know enough about their favorite waters, and the conditions confronting them on a given outing, to be able to judge results closely beforehand. But cast by cast, fishing is fishing, not catching, never a set routine provided for by all the components like a machine process. Fishing is the opposite of routine, unless corrupted by too many preoccupations. 

We always go about fishing in certain ways, but if we do not create variations on the themes of conditions we face, we are blind to what the fish, in effect, demand of us in order to catch them. The better we get at predicting results does not make angling less an art; every exception is grace and epiphany, and surprises do not and cannot happen all the time to those of us familiar enough with waters to have a general grasp. Nevertheless, to fail to enter mystery and engagement with every outing is a negative paradox. Instead of feeling attuned and prepared for action, mentally we come short of where we really are. We fail to come out from behind the wall of concerns that close us off from the present. As if we know better, we condescend to our own approach, and we miss out while vaguely feeling beat. 

In my life, I don't get out and fish as much as some do. I tend to fish the most in the spring and summer, quite a bit in early fall. I manage to get out at least once every month and ice fish with an ardor I try not to miss on any occasion I do it. I've fished over a hundred days this year, if mostly I spent perhaps an hour total on a given day. I will enjoy some lunch excursions this month and in December. Last week I tried Round Valley for rainbows (I used an egg sac) and I will again a few times at least before the year's out, I suppose. With the advent of ice fishing, I hope to get out on black ice. In total, I may get out five times. Last year I managed seven. But I'm very busy with writing pursuits; constantly I strike a balance.

It's not at all that fishing isn't good this time of year. The Long Branch surf at night last week yielded only a fluke on a teaser ahead of a paddletail, while I lost a small striper of perhaps five pounds. Earlier in the week and the previous, the fishing had been fantastic at the shore. Long Branch is only about an hour and 15 minutes away. The Delaware is good for walleyes, even smallmouth bass now. Hopatcong for walleyes and hybrids. The Pequest River and other trout streams produce very well for those who put in the time. 

Fishing is good in New Jersey year round. But never forget to be good for fishing.

I have friends who wish I just wrote poetry and fiction, because that's what they value and don't quite understand fishing and the practicality. Being able to tie a knot is absolutely essential, like myriad doings, some of which amount to the difference between life and death. We tie knots, for that example, in order to fish. And yet fishing, in essential, is about contemplation, because to fish for something is to mentally apprehend coming up with what we want to know. 

Contemplation involves poetry and the other arts. The quality of poetic contemplation is different from that of anticipating the presence of a trout, but in the way of merging mind, feeling and physical movement of the object, it can be identical. 

And yet another way to consider it leans towards a technical interpretation: a sort of mental browser exists that draws information together in one's mental field that I think--in general--works the same for both fishing and poetry within a spectrum of possibilities mutually exclusive in other respects, of course. Results yield similar qualities: emotional communion and wonder. But if poetry and fishing were very closely similar altogether--why would I bother doing both?

When I write poetry or compose ideas in my notebooks, I normally do it in my study--a well organized study with art and photographs on the walls, etc. But this practice can never suffice alone for me. I need to get out and be in physical contact with this earth and the water that covers most of 
it. Fishing is this experience like nothing else.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Third and Last Day for Us on Salmon River this Year

Passing through the kitchen on our way out the front door of the Steelhead Lodge this morning at 5:50 a.m., my son, Matt, and I had the good fortune of running into James Kirtland, captain of the Row Jimmy drift boat on the Salmon River. He insisted that we follow him and his client to Whitakers Sporting Goods, where he picked out three packs of beads, and instructed me to select yellow for low light, tan after the sun came up, as well as the pink-purple, "They don't see a lot in this color."

James put us on fish upstream of the 2A bridge. This passage of moving water is almost exactly like that we fished with Eric Geary, Row Jimmy just ahead of us, on Friday, catching about 10 steelhead between three boats. I know steelhead were there this morning because I had two on, saw several more leap, and witnessed one caught. It's generally understood among Salmon River fishermen that to have a fish on doesn't count for nothing. After all, "Fish on!!" is the common battle cry.

We fished about three hours. Just as Matt and I began to head upriver, James had asked to see my float set-up. It would have passed--five-pound test Drennen leader and all--if my split shots had been lead, not tin. "They're shiny," James said. He also expressed particular concern about the relative lightness of weight. I confess that yesterday I felt concerned myself. But I dropped the rig in front of me a number of times in the current to see how it behaved, and it seemed OK. Nonetheless, I took the shiny, expensive tin off, and put dull, heavy lead in place of it. Again I tested the rig several times and it rode about right down at bottom level, with the bead riding out ahead of the weighted line above the 15-inch or so leader attached to a micro-swivel.

It was a great trip. Now back in New Jersey, we've had a steelhead dinner and much of the putting away of gear is done. I had felt that if we caught a steelhead apiece on Friday, I'd be happy. I sort of felt maybe I'd catch two; this seemed the expected, but I also doubted this. And after all, we had great weather the other day on Friday to make this better than expected catch of five between my son and I--30's, intermittant snow, sleet, and cloud variations, strong breezes. That's proper weather on a steelhead river. The bluebird Saturday and easy sunrise this morning made the fish timid.

I think it's never luck. It only seems luck. It's being. Each of us is individual and hits it differently--there's really no shared standard between us all to judge luck at bottom, despite all of the objectivity of conditions and skills which generally we interpret to make expectations and confirm them after an outing is done. And yet, the world's being is different in relation to each of us, and the quality of individual involvement, regardless of skill, can have a lot to do with success or lack of it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Steelhead Success on Salmon River

This steelhead's my 9-pound, 3-ounce wonder.

What a trout! My son, Matt's first steelhead at 5 pounds, 7 ounces, 25 3/8th inches. This fish, fought on five-pound test, headed straight down the Salmon River at top speed, and had gained more than a hundred yards, we estimated, before we saw it break water and then stop. I was surprised how soon Matt got it boatside by pumping the rod and reeling in the tension relief. Without the 10-foot noodle rods to absorb shock and give flex power, line of low breaking strength would have little, if any, chance on these fish.
Once I had the knack, Eric Geary, our SWAT (Salmon, Walleyes, and Trout) Fishing guide, taught me--keeping that line tight against the float as it drifted, and setting the hook quick--I had my first steelhead of the trip, 5 pounds, 1 ounce. Matt was into another, much larger, soon after my struggle had weakened my right arm considerably; I'm not making that up. We knew it was big because we saw it twist at the surface with the sort of deliberateness you see giant snakes exercise on their prey.

He played it for several minutes, the hook pulled, and he reported that he never saw the float disappear with this fish. It simply struck like a lion runs over its kill with accelerating power. Those may seem dramatic words for an eight or nine-pound trout taking a 10-mm bead with a small hook two inches below it, but they typically take these simple lures, which resemble the salmon eggs they feed on, take them firmly. If they eject the offering just as quick, having chomped upon hard plastic, they also sometimes swallow from the advantage of a powerful rush.
All three of my hook-ups using a bead came quicker than conscious intention. When I hooked my 9 pound, 3 ounce trout, 30 3/8th-inches, I reacted as soon as the float went down, without that lag of consciously judging it had. Zen. You have to be instantaneous unless the trout just ploughs into the hook. Most times you see the float go down, it's too late. I missed at least 20 hits. Besides two I caught, and another about 17 inches quickly released, I caught one of about five-and-a-half pounds on a jointed Rapala, also quickly put back. We're allowed one fish per man.
I'm pretty sure I fought my big one a full 15 minutes or more on that five-pound test. The fight felt greater than largest king salmon last year of 20 pounds, 12 ounces on 12-pound test. The steelhead took a couple of strong runs, but never high tailed it downriver as Matt's smaller trout did. It held it's own in mid river, very difficult to pump in and finally have netted. Eric, who has done this for 30 years, made, I think, five netting attempts before we finally had the fish. I breathed relief. Every time that fish got away from the net, I knew it added to the stakes and drama. I was grateful for the catch.
Once our photo taking was over and things settled down, Eric told me the hook attached to that fish "by the skin of the teeth."
"If you had relaxed the tension on that fish, it would have been gone."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Seaside Park K Street Striper Pursuit and Some Mysteries at Ocean's Edge

Cold front conditions persisted today, although temperatures rose into the 50's. I arrived at Seaside Park K Street at 2:30 to find the surf rough with waves breaking far out, beyond casting reach, as high tide approached. It didn't feel right at all. Within minutes I got the scoop from an elder angler who seemed to have got it from everyone else a half mile down the beach--no fish at all. I fished until 5:19 after sunset, had no hits, nor did anyone else in sight.

Fished an Ava 17 with teaser fairly persistently, but not as hard as I would have if I suspected fish would move in. I set up my bait rod--an 11 foot heavy duty outfit--right at the edge of the bar and the inside sluice. Most of my casting the fish finder rig and five ounce pyramid sinker was short and directly to that deep sluice into which the beach banks sharply. I couldn't cast over the furthest breakers with either bait or the Ava. Had I got five yards further into the surf wading, I still wouldn't have the reach to whip weight over them, and I didn't try--especially avoided where the beach slopes sharply--since my right knee is still very bad and threatened to give out with unstable sand underfoot and jarring heaves of surf wash.

The most fun was snapping about 50 photos. But the contemplative moods I visited along the way for those three hours satisfied the most. I wish I had the time to upload my memories of them and share them with you. I do recall recognizing at one point that even when grand ranges of ideation are present in mind, the reality is subtle, and it's difficult to retain a grasp of what had been thought. This is because such thinking is primarily intuitive and almost subliminal--you're always aware of a great deal that does not quite cross the threshold into consciousness. And that's the beauty of it, not that you are a computer that doesn't function well enough, but that you can become aware in ways a computer can never even approximate--it can only store and organize information--and best of all the mysteries seem to have a life of their own and do not throw themselves upon you. But they are related to you. They will return some other time, and you may become more clear about something in your life than ever before.