Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Monday, September 01, 2008

But Is It Fishin'? (#176)

As most of you know, and are likely darn sick of hearing, I live in a small town, in a house bordering a field and some woodland. A creek runs through the area and empties into Lake Ontario, a mile or two away. The creek hosts annual migrations of rainbow trout (steelhead) in the spring and brown trout and salmon in the fall.

What follows is another excerpt from the journal I’m writing about my walks in that area with Benny. Forgive me if there’s a reference or two that presupposes a knowledge of material you haven’t read. Maybe one day you will - if I ever finish the darn thing and get it published.

The salmon run is on. The weather is mid-summer hot n’ hazy, belying the calendar. This is Labour Day, a holiday, a day in which people who are usually at work on a Monday, don’t have to work on this particular Monday. They can do other things - recreational things.

Did I mention the salmon run was on?

You’re clever. You can do the math.

Uh-huh. My creek is overrun with guys in armpit-high boots and wearing vests with 97 overflowing pockets. Most of them wield long fly, or steelhead rods from 9 to 13 feet.

Not only that, but on weekends (when I’m usually safe at Hilary’s) and holidays (when I’m often not) it’s also overrun with preteens flinging Pocket Fishermen and families of five toting picnic baskets and lawn chairs among their gear; most of whom have never fished in their lives but want a crack at 25 pounds of near-fresh, not to mention near-free, salmon.

Now add the probability of there being a dead fish or three in the vicinity, rotting nicely in the hot sun.

Finally, factor in a dash of Benny, The Jack Russell Terror, to the above fruitcake smorgasbord and you’ll surely understand that this morning’s walk posed something of a challenge.

The first of which was trying to keep him away from the creek without having to leash him.

For the most part, this was pretty easily done. A good portion of the paved path parallels the creek but doesn’t come all that close to it. And this summer’s still-lush foliage blocked his, and my view of the creek in most places. So, today I made a point of staying on the paved path, away from the creek when we were below the dam. (Most of the salmon were still downstream of the dam.)

The only area of major concern was half-way through the northern cedar grove. The creek bends close to the path there and there’s a nice fish-holding slick, just above and alongside a storm-toppled tree trunk. I knew there’d be at least a couple of guys working that short stretch.

There were six - three on each side of the bank. Six guys fishing a run about 20 feet long and eight wide. From two directions. I called Ben and he came nearly immediately, after a cursory sniff of the closest angler’s boots and a quick pee on a nearby fern. Glad he didn’t reverse that. Good doggie.

Suddenly, I heard one of the six whoop, followed shortly by a thunderous, wet WHAP as a hooked 20-pounder slapped its tail on the surface. I could see at least two lines attached to the “lucky” angler’s line and the other fishermen reeled in frantically, lest they join them.

One more did. This was unlikely to end well.

In my book, this ain’t fishin’. (Hehe. I said “in my book.” Get it? It’s funny because even though I was using the term as a folksy colloquialism, I did write a book. About fishing. Mostly. Oh, nevermind.)

Ben and I continued our walk.

The scene made me grumbly. Fishing + crowds has always = ruining my zen. Fishing is supposed to be a quiet, relaxing pastime, during which one eases into Nature’s own rhythms. It’s not supposed to be one which involves jostling and frayed tempers. That’s the rhythm of a metropolitan subway system.

On the way back, near a long stretch of rapids devoid of both fish and fishermen, Ben and I paused for a bit at the side of the stream. While he nosed around for something interesting, I looked upstream at the tail end of a nice holding pool.

Three young guys, in their late teens or early twenties, were working the lower part of the pool. I couldn’t see the upper part but was certain there were other anglers there as well.

The young lads were tanned and shirtless. One said something and they all laughed. They tossed out their floats in near-unison and I imagined they were wagering on who would catch the first, the biggest, the most – the way I did, and do, when fishing and kibbitzing with friends.

I realized I was being a bit of a twit - a bit of a snobbish twit. Not everyone has the luxury of picking and choosing the ideal times and places to fish. Some only have a day or two here and there, as was the case for me for the better part of 20 years. And if a couple dozen folks have the same chance at the same time - well, it’s no surprise they take advantage of it.

Those young men were having fun. Perhaps they were on the cusp of one of those magically memorable summer days they’d recall and drink to when they were my age. Who was I to say what fishing “should” be?

One size don’t fit all, so what the heck - maybe it is fishin.’


Maud said...

As always, Frank, you entertain and amuse, yet provoke thought and remind me to gentle down my view of others. Thank you. I am SO looking forward to the Benny book!

Hilary said...

Nicely said. It's nice to know that all of them were having a good day, and that you could take that from it and brighten your own. And at least Benny has resisted the dead salmon so far.

Before you know it, you'll be back at the cottage and the lake will be quiet.... :)

Leah J. Utas said...

I've heard tales of combat fishing and am glad I haven't had to do any myself.
I've just gotten back to doing a bit of angling this summer as my husband will fish but doesn't understand it. He likes results.
I suspect you're right about those young men. They'll relive their perfect day of fishing for their whole lives.

Travis Erwin said...

Great post.And no I do not tire of hearing about your neck of the woods. It is so different from mine.

Stace said...

Aidan still hasn't taken me fishing like he keeps promising...

Reb said...

Sounds like you got a bit of your zen back after your realization. That's good, nothing is worse than disgruntled zen. ;)

Frank Baron said...

Why thank you Maud! As always, your wisdom and perceptiveness are inspiring. ;)

Ah, thanks for that thought Hil. I needed it. :)

Leah, have I got a book for your hubbie! ;) Thanks for the kind words.

Thanks Travis. I appreciate it.

Stace, it's gotta just be a matter of time because fishermen never, ever, lie. :)

I did indeed, Reb. And I love that term: disgruntled zen. I have a hunch it would make a great caption for a Far Side cartoon. :)

Shammickite said...

Fishing, well, it just doesn't turn my crank. The thought of putting a worm (even a plastic one)on the hook, and then taking a poor little fishie off the very same hook just does not appeal.
I'll stick to Captain Highliner.

Kappa no He said...

A vest with 97 pockets? *swoon!*

Frank Baron said...

That's fine Shammickite. I've known lots of folks whose idea of fishing is to sit in a boat reading a book and sipping a beverage, while glancing up occasionally and saying: "Yes, that sure IS a big one."

You might enjoy that kind. :)

I know Terrie. That's my dream vest too. :)

Thanks both for stopping by.

Mel said...

Enjoyed your post. The lure of fishing is overbearing some times, but, alas they are gone and the water is calm and the fish are at peace. Glad you found some peace with the circus type approach on your nearby stream.

Take care,

Frank Baron said...

Thanks Mel. Appreciated. :)

CrazyCath said...

I was sure I had read this then realised when I got half way down that I must have read half and got disturbed. I got the other half now. :0/

I see both sides of it. As a country bumpkin, I hated tourist season when these folks would tramp all over my hills and break the sound barrier with thelr whoops and stuff, drowning out the birdsong.
But then as I grew up and got busy, and moved to a town, I became and am a tourist that comes once in awhile, bringing a whole family with me. The family whoop and break the sound barrier and I smile and take pleasure in watching them, showing them a bit of my world.

You're right. It works both ways and none of us own it. We should all enjoy.

Frank Baron said...

You're not so crazy Cath. ;)

Thanks for dropping by. :)

Anonymous said...

Waiting for the book! Love your writing.

Crabby McSlacker said...

Thanks for the lesson, it's one I need to remind myself of as well.

I hate crowds, and often find myself irritated at others for simply for being where I am when I'd rather be alone. Instead, I need to remind myself how lucky I am to have all the quiet moments in addition to the crowded times.

I too am looking forward to seeing you & benny write a book. (I bet he cans spell about as well as I do).

Frank Baron said...

Amy, you are perceptive and wise. ;) Thanks!

Crabby, the dual-author thing with Benny just isn't working out. He gets distracted every other paragraph and starts biting the keyboard. I'm gonna write the whole thing and just let him edit.


Anonymous said...

Just arrived here from Hilary's blog, and I'm glad I did!
I'm thinking I should buy your book as a gift for my nephew, who thought his honeymoon should be a fishing trip. ;)