Thursday, October 29, 2009

Delerium Oncorhychus Mykiss Tremens

Gone is the innocence. The bliss of ignorance was long ago taken under the float of sublime realisation, so sweet, so brief.

Yet not so brief that to taste it again is not merely delectable, but divine. Godlike the fish, godlike the strike of the fish, like lightning from a blue sky, mead where I expected water, wine where I thought there would be only dust.

In the short space of the great battle I lose myself in the maelstrom of jeweled fishes' armour, foaming waters, fins flying like wings, like the feet that walk on the water wherein it dances, struggles, darts. Ersatz, panacea, Eulalie, Tinuviel! Tinuviel! I am myself and not myself. I watch myself even as I live through the combat, the tug of war against the shining, unpredictable, powerful silver thing that pushes throbbing pulsations
through my line, the graphite, the bone, to the heart, the mind in a resonating hum.

Then comes the realisation that this is all and that this is not all, it is everything you want and nothing - for you will want more, endlessly more.

I cannot sleep without a vision of the bright red slender sliver of balsa, waltzing on currents, over seams, over riffles, over slow deep pools filled with deep, portentious green water. And when consciousness glimmers in through the morning fog, as somnolence recedes, and before I turn on the light, I see it still in front of me in the morning gloom, the river, beckoning, flowing regardless of whether I am there or not; and an echo of a dream somewhere that says I fished all night.

Friends come and go in the storm, others like me who number among the afflicted, who have seen the passage to Kubla Khan and know not the way back, and who search as I search, even in waterless summer, for that time again, that first time, when the wild fish first took the bait, scythed line through water and splintered it into fragments of cobweb. Leaving only the thunder of a heart beating away its innocence with every breath, every thought of what was that? how big was it? where did it go? and will I ever see it again? and the wrenching knowledge that we will not.

Miles upon miles we travel, to find the trout. We will eschew sleep, good stout common sense, logic. We throw them overboard. Sobriety, duty, despair. We launch these from our minds and join the search for the pixie creatures that scintillate in waters far away.

Cold wind, rain, sleet, snow, ice and frigid waters are merely unheeded companions,
minor irritants, necessary evils encountered along the way. They are not serious obstacles, nor do they deter the seekers of gleaming Mykiss. Hills we climb and we brave the fast water, we ski on the mud, we trample wayward brambles underfoot; for at the end of the journey is the drug, the prescription, the heartsfill.

Help me! help me!

But no, I don't want your help. I am happy in my dependence, my addiction, I do not want you to take it from me.

Because it is not really a drug, but a deep connection to the quiet of the way things were,
the excitement of what they can be again and again, and the hope of another day - on the water, with friends, with sons or fathers, or alone. To see again the gleaming fish, before the end.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Losing Streak ( a Conceit)

Poor me. I feel like the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite a few mishaps, I had a pretty good pre-season, with some unexpected conquests and the introduction of some promising rookies. All of this lead me to think that I could hope; and then the start of the real season comes & I can't win for trying. And to top it off, I actually am a Leafs fan. The Horror!

As I write this, the Leafs are losing (again) 4 - 1 to the Colorado Rockies, on their way to what is sure to be their worst start in franchise history. One more loss, and they will be 0-6-1, which basically ties their worst season. Or is it 0-7-1? No matter: they will achieve it. ...OR, will they come back in the Third? Was that a winged pig I just saw out my window?

Actually, they're kind of making me feel better about myself. There's no way my season's been so bad this far. I've only had 2 games, really. And both times I at least hit a few posts, with my float going down and coming up with nothing at the other end. Minimum, there was
the tease of success, which I would have to say has not been apparent for the Leafs since the end of their first game. And whereas my "losses" have all been low scoring affairs, the Leafs have been donating unspeakable numbers of goals to their opponents.

My only real mishap, which was actually quite funny but caused me not to have any pictures, occurred during my first warm-up trip of the year to a large river on the north shore of lake Huron. There were three of us in the canoe. My dad, my friend Luc (who was turning 40 that day)and myself. We like to cross the river, to get a better spot from which to catch the pink salmon that congregate there. To our surprise, both sides of the river were fairly crowded. This must have had some effect on our collective judgement, since, moments after the first swirls of current enveloped the keel of the canoe, we tipped.

The water was really nice. Surprising, in view of the fact that a man had perished in that same river, a few days earlier. His motor had failed, causing his boat to get dragged into a nearby waterfall, with lethal results. Maybe Frenchmen float, because all three of us merely noted how nice the water was. Then, by necessity, we started laughing. We carefully worked our way to shore & did an inventory. Lost: 1 cigar. All electronic devices were soaked through and through. So were we. Otherwise, the fishing stuff was just as wet as the rest, but it was present.

We spent the rest of the day drying off and discovering that, during off-years, the run is smaller than during ON-years. We observed some wildlife sporting various gut-sizes and speedo-style underwear that used to be white but is now gray, and that this somehow must have a positive effect on one's success at snagging multiple fish. Perhaps the absence of clothing helps shave some of those vital nanoseconds from one's hook set? Anyway, that was the "low" point of my pre-season.

For the rest, I managed a few Chinook salmon in my local waters. I also brought my sons down to observe piscatorial movements at one of the nearby dams. It was neat to watch Isaac & Samuel as they gaped in amazement at the large creatures that milled about, mere feet from where we were sitting together. Are they going to come out and eat us? Are they bigger than dinosaurs? Isaac is not verbal, yet, but he was much more interested than I thought he'd be: just another of the pleasant surprises he's been serving us lately.

Afterwards, Laura and I decided to "divide and conquer - so Samuel got to have some "moi et papa" ("me and dad") time, fishing for salmon. We didn't catch any, although some of papa's roe bags were mashed up pretty fiercely. Both of us were rigged with a float, split shot and roe - it would've been great if he could have hooked one on his Diego rod! I would've had to hold on to him! But in the end Samuel got to see more fish moving around, wear some really cool fishing gear, and enjoy a well deserved nap on the way back home. I wish I could do that! There are times when a nap would be just the thing...

Anyway, where was I?

Right. The real season has more or less started. Steelhead are slowly making their way into our rivers. I've spent two half-days, one with frost, poking about here and there, watching others like me not catching anything, but eying with at least a small amount of envy the few lottery winners among us whose fate intervenes in the form of a pristine, silver steelhead. My own luck isn't too bad, as I've at least seen my float go down a few times. I don't know whether this action is always from big fish, but it does keep me on my toes!

The third period is on now... Gotta go!

Just kidding. I have some chores to do and, if they're not done by a certain time, there could be more articles of this nature: not so much about fish as about the lack thereof!