“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it’s not the fish they are after.” Henry David Throeau
There’s something eternal about fishermen. They engage in an activity that goes back to the earliest reaches of humankind. As I’ve said, fisherman 40,000 years ago made hooks from bone and managed to do very well pulling protein from the sea. But there is even evidence from past primitive graphics that fishing was sometimes a pastime.
Aside from catching fish, they are involved in a very special communion, fishermen are. It’s a bonding, not with each other necessarily but bonding with the sea, nature, life. Being in nature; the woods, the sea, the mountains, when immersed in it, something inside you feels the lack of the structural order of civilization. Geometrics, right angles, the pointy-ness of life is gone. We are left with only the curves of waves, the swoop of the dunes, the puffs and wisps of the clouds, the leaf-shrouded mountain slopes, all of it very primeval. It touches our essence. I know that if dads and their kids fished more together we’d have a more enlightened world. They’d be bound by the recognition of the internal essence they share.
I was riding my bike on our Long Beach, NY boardwalk Friday afternoon. When I reached the westernmost end of our wooden promenade, I saw about 150 yards farther west, a huge flock of gulls. Must be something going on says I to m’self. I tend to lean to ye olde salty-talk when I’m near the briny and talk to m’self, y’see.
In the distance I saw a fisherman reeling in, one long back-pull at a time, over and over again. As I walked I remembered a time when my back was fit for such action, when life ahead was as vague and as misty as this shore was now.
I walked but kept stopping and shooting as the gulls framed, in a flutter of white wings, the eternal fisherman. He pulled a big one out but tossed it back before I could even get near him.
Amazingly, as I approached, he was tugging the line once again. I had to keep wiping the mist from my lens but I captured frame after frame the bending and reeling. Yes, he pulled in another one, a fairly big blue fish. He didn’t know I was behind him when that one too was sent back to school.
Trini Ryan, the fisherman *(full name, Ryan Ramoutar), called to his buddy, Marcos Ramos, on a dune walk behind us, “I need my belt.” Marcos called back, “What?” He couldn’t hear so I relayed, “He wants his belt.” Marcos soon joined us.
Once more the fisherman was pulling and tugging and reeling. This time he had a megawhopper of a blue. He said it was the biggest blue fish he ever caught and thanked me for capturing it in my camera. Yes, I caught a big one too.
There were gulls and fish everywhere. The flock no doubt mirrored the massive school of peanut bunker and cod chased by the ravenous blues beneath the sea.
Soon a Hemingway-bearded man and his wife arrived. He said he’d heard about the action, so off he went into the surf.
After only a few casts he suddenly sat in the surf, rod at his side, holding his foot. His loose rod threatened to be pulled into the sea. His wife next to me was concerned. I said, “It looks like he cut his foot on a shell or something.” Trini and Marcos put their own rods down and rushed to help.
The man had hooked his middle toe with a treble hook. The barb was deeply embedded. Well-prepared Marcos got out his pliers and detached the popper lure from the hook with the deft hand of a paramedic.
There was no small amount of pain for the man however as Marcos did his work and Trini provided support. People helping people. Can it get any simpler?
The hook was still in but with the popper lure removed he would at least be mobile. Now, with his wife, he could heel-limp his way back to their car and the doctor.
Trini usually fishes alone, he told me but Marcos joins him sometimes after work. *Trini’s dad taught him how to fish at a very young age, he’s been fishing since, he said. His dad started by taking him with him in a stroller when he fished.
*He has worked for eight years as First Mate on a fishing boat and will start college in January. He says he fishes the shores of Long Island all the way to Montauk. He loves to catch and release big fish like stripers and blues. He says there aren’t a lot of twenty-year-olds as himself into it. He said, *”My dad is the reason I’m the fisherman I am today.” I think his dad was a very wise and loving man.
Trini said, “Surfcasting the shores of Long Island is my drug of choice.” He said, “I fish for the sport and not a meal. It’s something about seeing those big fish that I catch released and swim away, it’s a joy to me.”
Yes, there’s something eternal about fishermen, something that continues through the millennia. They engage in pulling protein from the sea, yet sometimes they never know…“it’s not the fish they are after.”
I think Trini knows what they are after…the joy.
*Added after original posting
See my alternate blog, Wherethesundontshine:http://wherethesundontshine.net