Rockaway Outdoors/Tales From The Wheelhouse
Winter daydreams … Apparently the transients from the western New York Bight taking up residence in Montauk or Rhode Island continue their assault on the codfish. Somehow amidst all of the rules and regulations imposed along the coast they are able to find other niches in our fisheries to survive. One can only admire the resolve they have to remain fishermen.
Many of us exist in a duality familiar to only those with a passion for fishing. Careers or jobs, whichever you aspire to, are times spent in between fishing. Screensavers depicting ocean scenes or a prized catch adorn many PCs. Those blessed with a window view of the East River look out from the concrete sand dunes of Manhattan and stare inquisitively into its rips. Images of fish, mirages if there can be such things on the water, appear. Silhouettes reflecting sunlight from the mirrors of many scales jump back out at you.
That’s what a fisherman does, sandwiched between proposals and deadlines are the fish calls, the phone rings its Keith from Breezy Point describing the beach erosion. You press the hold button, others will have to wait, this is big news. The excitement in his voice triggers the endorphins in your brain and instantly you’re on the beach nostrils filled with the salty air, casting behind the breakers. You don’t see the explosion of the striper crashing on your lure but the bend of the rod telegraphs the message this is a big fish.
The line doesn’t peel off the reel, no it screams as it is the last link between you and this trophy. Calmly you play out the battle; on the October moon in ’81 you had a 44-pounder off of the beach in Provincetown and this one feels a whole lot heavier.
With each turn of the reel line it is painstakingly retrieved, only to be reclaimed by the fish with the undertow of the swells. Patiently using the tide and waves you work the fish in. Methodically like a metronome you back peddle in rhythm with each wave, a tug of war which seems like an eternity, is coming to an end.
The thought crosses your mind about the blood knot you tied; the one splicing your braid to the mono you’re praying, no actually bartering with God that it won’t break.
The bass is on the inside of the bar now all of fifty somewhat yards from the beach and your wall. Just one or two more waves and you’ll surf him in. The next set of breakers will do it. Rod arched high you have him right atop the crest, the boil of his wake and dorsal seem almost prehistoric in size. Startled you jump as your secretary taps your shoulder, “Sir your meeting; are you all right, sir?”