Wednesday, February 24, 2016

2-22-16 Trip By: Steve

      It was a nice enough day Monday to get out for a paddle, none of the bait shops have regular hours yet so we wouldn't get any blood worms to perch fish, it didn't matter, it was a day to un-foul the lines, plug leaks, or oil zippers if needs be, really a day to run off, and get in the water.
      It was nice as nice can be, anchored, bottom fishing, and nothing doing, except for one strange interlude, through the island cut came a muscular woman in spandex and a tee shirt on a weird boat, a sleek racing canoe with an outrigger on the port side, digging water like hell up the bank toward the bend, shouted "HI!" then "Nice to have the wind behind you when the tide is against you!" or something like that, immediately she was gone.
      Anyone out paddling a Jersey river mid-February, is more than a bit unusual. I searched online for an image of a boat matching the one we'd seen so I could call it by it's right name in case I wanted to mention it in this post, (outrigger canoe). An image came up which matched the boat so closely, and the person sitting in it too, my gut said they were the same. After a little more research I became 100% certain that this mirage on the cold river was a woman named Margo Pellegrino, who happens to be a famous long distance canoeist and a Lorax for clean water, her recent trip (New York to Chicago) through waters which represent some of the most heavily polluted in the united states; the great lakes, the Hudson river, and the Erie canal, gives an eye witness account of the pollution and habitat destruction which most never experience first-hand.
Margo Pellegrino Photo Credit: Environment America
     In honor of this chance and momentary encounter we are going to try and do our part, starting by picking up more of the trash we see when we're out in our kayaks and eventually something about the disgusting mess left behind by fishermen and others at the end of Hay Road where we launch on the Mullica River.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Winter Book Review: "All Fishermen are Liars" written by John Gierach (by Alexi)

The book open's with an anonymous qoute:

 " All fishermen are liars except you and me (and sometimes I wonder about you)"

  This is the second book of Geirach's that I've read.  The first was Still  Life with Brook Trout.   I read a chunk of All Fishermen are Liars walking home from the bookstore.  He manages to capture  some of the most essential and basic truths in fishing, and so ironic becomes the title of his most recent (albeit a few years old) book.  The truth in this novel is so fundamental that although I have never held a fly-rod in my hand in my life, I can relate to most every chapter from the perspective of a kayak fisherman.  There is a level of brutal honesty in Geirach's writing that I find comforting.  

   This book is a collection of stories or fishing episodes with an inkling of a common theme: that it's about the experience and not the fish.

    In the first chapter Geirach ponders his own background into writing and fishing and concludes: 

    "Some days this seems like such an uncertain career that you wonder if you should have done something else.  Other days you have so much fun you can't believe you're actually getting paid.  Finally it occurs to you that you've pretty much accomplished everything you've set out to do, it's just that you didn't set out to do all that much.  You realize that you've been writing about fly fishing professionally thirty-five years and still haven't run out of things to say.  This can mean one of two things: that the subject itself is inexhaustible or that you'll never quite get it right"

     When an author gives us this much insight into their own thought process, and the self doubt that exists in us all at one time or another of never getting it right , I am able to relate much more easily and fluidly to the anecdotes which follow.  Like when on a trip to the Upper Peninsula for coasters he says:

 "We'd planned to go out in the sixteen-foot boat Bill had trailered up, but it was windy and rainy and Superior was too rough."  And so it is with all fishing, sometimes you have to go with your back-up plan.  (For us on occasion it's been hitting the Point Pleasant Canal.)  And even then, he says "In the end, Bill and I cast until our arms hurt without so much as a bump while Sammy, fishing a worm and a bobber on a spinning rod, landed and released a whitefish and a smaller coaster."   And so goes the truth: fish the worm.

    Geirach doesn't dwell on conservation issues but mentions sustainability and regulations often enough to let the reader know where he stands.  Where fish are plentiful  (and there is an actual meal that may or may not happen) to take some for food is fine, but he is like most fly fishermen, catch and release only, despite what regulations there are.

   Then some chapters are about gear and even though he's only talking about fly rods, I feel like I am catching up to him with spinning and conventional gear.  That you would need a different rod and reel for different sized lures isn't news to me, only until recently it's been a lifelong struggle to avoid this inevitability.  Although he's owned up to a hundred rods he says "...I'd be a better caster if I fished only two or three.  Most of the rods I've owned were perfectly OK. "

Gierach also drives and camps a lot in this book which are both activities I can relate to.   On a lark in the winter a friend of his convinces him to go on an overnight trip to a new stream in Wyoming.  They get skunked at their first spot, and "When we went to try another spot, the pickup wouldn't start."  and what follows is EXACTLY what I thought from my somewhat limited experience with cars "This means corroded terminals if you're lucky, a dead battery if you're not."  They have some fishing friends nearby and they camp together, and of the next morning Geirach writes "I'd come to fish and I'd get around to it eventually, but the real reason for the trip was simply to get out of the house in the winter and there I was, so there was no rush."

I now feel that I'm at risk of simply quoting the book in it's entirety, and that's not the point.  The point is: Go buy it, and read it! I mean, if you fish at all or ever have you will love this book.  In a cabin that he's staying at the schedule says:

 "7:30 breakfast
7:30 supper"

Isn't that just how it should be? and sometimes you might even have to skip dinner because it's the magic hour! 

     If your truck hasn't broke down on the way to North Carolina (as did Steves), if you don't own a million rods (as we do) if you don't think about your art or trade and fishing and maybe one or two other things compulsively, then maybe you'll get something else out of this book, but for all it's worth it stands as a confirmation that I am not alone in this world in my insanity and drive to do the things I love to do!

This book is NOT about the big fish that got away.  It is not a lecture of what not to do.  It is not full of flowery overblown depictions of nature.  It IS the most brutally honest account of one mans fishing  journal told in such a seductive and intriguing manner that it captures the essence of fishing.

I don't know why, maybe it is the long winter, or the injured shoulder I'm nursing but I feel like ending this book review with a quote from Henry David Thoreau: 

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”

All Fishermen are Liars
written by John Geirach
Published by Simon & Schuster
copyright 2014