Tag Archives: Fishing

No wonder

High tide at lunchtime today, and am going down to the waters edge to play with my little friends the Smallmouth Bass. It’s a fair bargain; I give them a free feed, one or two of them get a free ride to the surface before I let them go. None of them are big enough for the pan, so why not? I use barbless hooks. Win-win.

Fishing is a more a contemplative than physical exercise anyway. It’s why people do it. The luxury of time to think without distraction. It was a zen thing before zen and all that complicated yoga twisting and bending came along.  In male terms at least, fishing is to zen what yoga is to the garden shed.  Both are designed to fulfill the same purpose, to free the mind for contemplation. Something which is in short supply nowadays.

There are far too many strident voices with agendas spouting falsehoods. From Politicians in hock to every vested interest and lobbyist under the sun to big Eco, with its original wide eyed idealism bought and sold by those with major financial interests in the currently flatlining ‘Carbon trading’ markets. Everybody is shouting, but oh so few are actually sitting back and doing some serious critical listening.   Apart from a few ‘lunatic’ bloggers.  Then again, we’re all ‘conspiracy nuts’ aren’t we? Tinfoil hats on permanent and prominent display. Candidates for the rubber room to a man. Yeah, right.

I haven’t quite got to the point where I need to fact check everything everybody else says, but it is very tempting.  Honesty and integrity have been devalued to the point where ordinary day to day folk might be active practitioners, but the higher* you go, the less these qualities seem in evidence.  An appeal to authority as a means of proof can therefore be seen to be less than adequate.  White lies were once seen as a necessary means of smoothing social intercourse, (and also as a very necessary means of smoothing the path to sexual intercourse) but now the falsehoods are so common, it’s easy to become overtly cynical in record time**.  Search engines may be the discerning readers friend here, but remember, just because it’s written down doesn’t make it true. Trust only the evidence. Which so many fail to look for.

No wonder the world’s in a mess. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Hi ho, it’s a gorgeous BC day and I’m off to enjoy it. TTFN

* Some, including myself, might posit that the adjective ‘higher’ when applied to human hierarchies should have the caveat; “The higher you seek to climb, the lower you have to sink.” firmly attached, like those interminable warning labels on half the hardware in the shops.
**Just as an aside; I wonder whether there is a ‘speed of cynicism’ like in ‘speed of light’?  Some form of self limiting factor?

A thunderingly good day

While the world goes to hell, the prissy ‘ban everything’ brigade continually interferes in the lives of ordinary people, politicians build follies based on flawed ideas, agents provocateurs and their proxies burn embassies and threaten others in a kind of proxy warfare (Er, how come they burned the US Embassy when the movie was made by an Egyptian?), what was I doing?

Not much.

I went fishing.

Bugger it, this world gets crazier. News of the insanity delivered by dramatically breathless news anchors in irritatingly jump cut and superficial coverage. Media coverage is increasingly like a sandwich which is all bread and no filling. All emotion and no logic. I hate it for the warped picture of the world it delivers, and don’t watch if I can help it.

Yes, I went fishing. Took some local advice and went to my favourite pile of rocks at the waters edge with a set of small hooks and spinners. Set for another three or four fruitless hours of what I’m often given to describe as ‘casting practice’. While I’m there I watch the Seals, seabirds, Blue Heron, Sea Lions, Otters, Eagles, and occasional Orca. It’s peaceful. I don’t mind not catching anything. You have time to think.

No one bothers a fisherman. An armed mob of headhunters with machetes will ignore a man intent on fishing. Well, they might stop and politely enquire if he’s caught anything yet, but then rampage on. Said putative mob might even pause to watch and cheer if the fisherman caught something while they were watching. Unless it was a mob from a bunch of animal rights hypocrites, in which case the fisherman would be first on the list.

Yesterday the fish were biting. Every cast. Every single, wonderful, mother loving cast. Only young Smallmouth Bass, but they’re spunky little fighters and fun, fun, fun. Caught a few, threw them all back. Ran out of bait with a happy heart for all the sport they gave me. As sunset was colouring the rocks of Link Island a dusky Martian pink I tipped my hat to the Water Gods in thanks and began the mile long scramble back home over logjams and rocks. I had a thundering good day.

Sometimes you have to say “FTW” (Number 3) and have what fun you can.

No I’m not telling you where it is. Because after I’ve been to the store this morning to get some fresh bait and a couple of spinners I will be back there. With a big grin on my face. Up tide and down. Yeah.

Sharks

Before I left the UK, one of life’s little pleasures was a shark fishing trip.  A day on the English Channel, boots on the gunnels, hat over your eyes, lines drifting out on a turquoise sea.  There is nothing quite like it.

Then out of nowhere you get a bite. The buzz of the reel as the line is stripped away until it stops. The adrenalin rush as the buzz starts again and you drop the reel drag to strike. Then the rod bending almost double, and the creep of line slipping away uncontrollably off the big reel. Dumping your arse into the fighting chair, if the boat has one, or putting a foot against the side to brace yourself. The strain biting between your shoulders and stretching you upper arms with the sun on your back. Now the heavy, back straining, bicep creaking pump action as you reel it in, and then the line stripping off the reel, followed by another five minutes of straining before the Shark pulls down into the depths again.

This can and does go on for half an hour and often far longer. The bigger the fish, the longer the fight. Did I mention I’ve done a lot of shark fishing?  Only ever killed two, one deliberately, one by accident, the rest have been subject to tag and release.  

Over the years, I’ve lost count of how many days I’ve spent out on the water without a single nibble.  On the other hand I remember each and every scrap I’ve had with a shark on the other end of the line as though they were barely minutes ago; the experience is that intense.  

On one occasion I vividly remember staring down into a foot wide mouth of ripsaw teeth while holding a hooked gaff up with all my strength.  This to allow the skipper to reach in through the gills with gloved hands to release the hook.  Then the skipper and his crewman grabbed the animal behind its pectoral fins and let me ungaff the struggling creature and step smartly out of the way on a slippery pitching deck. Grabbing the tagging tool, a six inch spike in the end of a six foot pole so I could stick a tracking tag into the sharks flesh just behind the triangular dorsal fin.  Without sticking it in the skipper or his mate. This is a fishing social faux pas, and is not approved of.

This is a lot more difficult than it sounds.  Mr Shark does not want to be here.  Mr Shark wants to be off chasing other fish for a spot of tiffin.  He does not want to be thrashing around onboard a boat with these pesky two-legs, and like any sizable wild creature will take lumps out of whatever is in the way.  So it comes as no surprise to hear that a Scottish skipper got one of his boots chewed while p-p-p-picking on a Porbeagle.

What also comes as no surprise is the extent of ignorance regarding sharks and shark behaviour in the article and comments of this item in the Torygraph. A number of issues raise themselves. Firstly; why was a fisherman ‘worried’ about sharks eating seals? Even if a Porbeagle was the guilty party, which is unlikely, why bother? Porbeagles are Mackerel sharks, and they are called that for a reason; a large part of their diet is Mackerel, Squid, Garfish, Red Bass, Whiting and various similar fish, which are a fisherman’s cash crop. Likewise Seals. Of all the skippers I’ve known over the years, Seals are either a) a pest; or b) a tourist attraction and source of revenue. As for the Porbeagle, mammals like seals rarely figure in their diet, if at all. I’ve never actually come across a report of a Seal being chewed by a Porbeagle. Porbeagles aren’t man eaters either. As shark species go they are way down the list of human predators. Indeed, if anyone were to make that excuse to me I’d probably laugh them off the boat. The closely related Mako sharks have been recorded in attacks on humans, but barely one of these happen a year. Two a year if you count pissed off fish hauled onboard a boat and taking a chomp at a crewman. Which is exactly what happened in this particular instance. Nothing to see here, man got his boot chewed. Silly season story.

Yet the frothing nutcases and pseudo eco freaks in the comments section made oi larf. These people have never been within ten kilometres of a real wild ‘n frisky Lamna Nasus, and know bugger all about them, a fact they are determined to share with the world. Then there are the armchair fishermen, and okay, they may have watched pro sharkers do it on TV, but maybe they didn’t watch the out takes.

Real life isn’t like TV. Real life is trying to tag a shark on a slippery tilting deck with the tag bouncing off its skin and the skipper shouting at you to stop fucking around and stick the bloody thing in, you great nancy. The shark thwacking its tail and snapping at everything in sight, and I can tell you from personal experience, that tail is not to be messed with. Mister Shark is best over the side and back into the clear blue water asap.

Trying to tag at the boat side is a similar comedy act. Two guys hanging on the hooked gaff, another on a rope looped round the tail, and the fourth repeatedly trying to stick the tag in the right place, and all the time the tag bounces off the sharks tough skin like a rubber ball. If you’re lucky, the tag goes in on the second or fourth try. If you aren’t, you lose two tags before one actually sticks in and the skipper and mate can release the gaff, followed by the other guy on the tail rope. If you have any sense you’re already sitting down and out of their way with the tagging spike and your rod properly stowed. Then everyone on board shares that feeling of Yeehaw! having hooked and tagged a live one. Then its time for a beer and cigar before you reset the lines for another drift. One of your boat buddies hooks one and it’s either your turn to step out of the way or get on the gaff or tail rope.

BTW: The picture is my first ever shark over 100lbs. Only a tiddler as they say, but an indelible experience that is etched in my mind until the day I die. What a ride.