The Tug [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: The Tug


striblue
08-18-2010, 09:12 AM
This is a short story submitted to my Clubs Journal, The Boston Flycasters.



The fisherman rummaged slowly and deliberately though the trunk of his car, collecting all the gear he would need for a morning’s fishing. It was an hour before dawn and as dark as any moonless night could be. He parked at the lighthouse this July morning, hoping to ambush some striped bass. He rigged his rod, finishing by tying on a super hair clouser, a sand eel imitation he’d had success with in these waters. He descended the long metal stairs from the lighthouse, focusing his small headlight on each set of steps until his bare feet touched the sand. The beach, crowded by day, was a solitary fisherman’s paradise by night.
As he walked, he pondered why he did this at all. He could easily have slept in and led a normal life—that day or on the many other days he choose to come to this place in search of fish. He asked himself: “What is it that really brings me here?”
Half a mile’s walk brought him to a sand spit that shoots out into the Atlantic. From the point of the spit, he cast, still blind in the dark, into a weak outgoing current. He knew he would be able to fish that spot later, when he headed back and when the stronger, lower current forced the fish to lay in wait in holes .
He pushed south on the beach, knowing, but not yet seeing its tip and Monomoy Island beyond. He paused and looked at his rod and reel, wondering why he needed gear that cost more than his first car in college. He knew he could fish as well with far less expensive equipment. Again, he asked himself: “Why do I do this? Certainly the equipment was part of it. He loved spotting that fly catalog sitting in a pile of the day’s mail. He loved looking at a striper in his hands in the moment before releasing it—wondering if he would ever see exactly that golden eye, those purples and greens, that barred silver flank again. He loved everything about flyfishing. But there was something more—an essence he just couldn’t identify.
He continued along the beach, expecting maybe to see a fishing buddy there before him. But he saw no one this morning. He sniffed in the false dawn and felt the light southwesterly onshore breeze that would bring in bait, even on the early outgoing tide. A perfect tide and perfect conditions for striped bass. All that was missing was the scent of cucumbers in the air, a sure indicator of feeding stripers. He knew, too, that birds would start to fly as the darkness left and the dawn approached. Soon he saw terns flying and diving here and there along the surf line
After an hour of casting into familiar and usually productive holes along the surf line, he stopped. Not because he wasn’t hooking up, but because he was thinking to much. Too much for fishing anyway. He spotted a natural bench along a high berm created by the outgoing tide. He sat down, lit up a short, fat, maduro cigar, and kept on turning in his mind the “why” of what brought him there. He couldn’t shake the question. It made him stop fishing. Something didn’t add up.
The same questions came to him over and over again, and he tried to find some logical common thread. Was it the equipment he loved? Was it the time he spent? Was it the hooking, fighting, landing, and then releasing the fish? Was it the hunt? Learning new things each time he went out? The perfect cast? The constant search to improve his technique? He loved to walk the beach whether he fished or not. He loved to tie flies, more than he would need in five lifetimes. He loved the heft and craftsmanship of all the rods and reels he owned, even if he didn’t need them all—the Sages, Scotts, Winstons, Abels, Tibors, and Pates. He had them all, an investment worth more than his parents’ first house/a year’s tuition for his daughter. He thought of the sound and feel of the reel zinging into it’s backing and the pull of the fish on the end of the line. Was it stopping? Was it resting? When would it make it’s next long run?
He continued to sit, passing up valuable fishing time as the sun rose though the mild fog that Chatham was famous for in that season. He knew fog meant more productive fishing time, but still he sat, struggling to find the answer, the common denominator that brought it all together for him. The perfect cast was a key thing, he thought, like the perfect drive in golf. But that wasn’t the core of it. It was something else. All of it—the gear, the flies, the friendships, the weather and and water were part of it…but not it. His cigar was good and strong and he wished he had a coffee to go with it. His real cigar and wished-for coffee made him forget his search for a moment . Something began to come to him, however, just slightly, as he puffed on the cigar. He had to bring it back to its most fundamental thing. What was this fundamental thing? He had to finish the thinking, bring it to its conclusion. Why do I do this? Why do I flyfish? Certainly all that he had thought about was part of the whole. But he wanted to find the beginning of the whole. It was coming…slowly but more clearly.
He was thoughtful and reflective by nature, and now he couldn’t let go. He turned over all the elements, reducing each to its essence, until it came to him. “It” was incredibly simple. All the time he’d devoted to his fishing, all the money spent on the equipment, all the trips, all the flytying materials, all the books, all the catalogs…all this was simply secondary to it…to that solitary, unmistakable, indescribable, fleeting rush of adrenalin that came in the instant of time when he felt the first tug.

jimS
08-18-2010, 11:14 AM
John, nice job! You're spot on, it's the tug. See you in a week or so and I'll check to see when we have a pre-dawn outgoing.

juro
08-18-2010, 01:49 PM
John -

That was me pulling on your upturned collar saying "tides changing your Nantucket Reds are going to get wet" ;)

Stay tuned for more about fashion and the good mayor :lildevl:

striblue
08-18-2010, 02:00 PM
Now, now, Juro you promised about that mums the word on the new career...and to think I even made you look good by buying that basket at the estate sale...and I even heard your blonde friend who was running the sale after I bought it..."Juro, you're the greatest!":lildevl:

juro
08-18-2010, 02:26 PM
That's because I weaved that basket in basket weaving class and donated it to the cause. You now have one of my original works :hihi:

striblue
08-18-2010, 03:28 PM
WHAT!!!???? You hoodwinked me again...btw ..who were those guys in the garage mixing fruit juice and sugar into small cans of something..with a can press...nice label though and I did not get the name.
....you moved me away and said it had something to do with dieting or something and that you and they guys were going to market it....oh, never mind
:lildevl:

juro
08-18-2010, 03:36 PM
Don't push me I have pictures of someone in a fez... :smokin:

striblue
08-18-2010, 03:44 PM
OK! OK!....I got it!...."Uncle!!!"

Dble Haul
08-20-2010, 10:48 AM
An oldie but a goodie, John. Well written.

bonefishmon
08-21-2010, 07:36 AM
Good read John. Thanks! Better take Juro's advice and pay more attention to those tides while you're smoking that Cuban Cigar! LOL!!!!!! You could end up being that "Big Striper" from the Gonna need a bigger boat.... thread. "Shark eats The Mayor after closing the beach." Welcome home John. I hope all those stairs in Syracuse didn't tire those iron legs! I'll be back as soon as I can. I hated leaving yesterday.

Phil