Friday, December 3, 2010

Long-form Project Excerpt #2

Here's another excerpt from the long-form project I've been doing:

Salmon are majestic fish with a long, storied history. Considered one of the prize catches of early modern English anglers, salmon have been praised, threatened, protected, and fetishized for hundreds of years. According to Isaak Walton’s iconic 17th-century treatise on fishing, The Compleat Angler, salmon were overfished as early as the 1200s:

"They be principally three, namely, March, April, and May: for these be the usual months that Salmon come out of the sea to spawn in most fresh rivers. And their fry would, about a certain time, return back to the salt water, if they were not hindered by weirs and unlawful gins, which the greedy fishermen set, and so destroy them by thousands; as they would, being so taught by nature, change the freshfor salt water. He that shall view the wise Statutes made in the 13th of Edward the First, and the like in Richard the Second, may see several provisions made against the destruction of fish: and though I profess no knowledge of the law, yet I am sure the regulation of these defects might be easily mended."

In my opinion, any fish that drew the protection of two English kings is worthy of any and all encomiums. It was also worthy of a little research.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Long-form Project Excerpt

Hello everyone. During the colder winter months, I plan on writing a longer form piece on my 2010 fishing experiences. I will likely provide excerpts on the blog, so check back often to see some new writing about the year. Without further ado, here's a few words I wrote about my memories fishing Pennsylvania's Monroe Lake:

Sometimes, though, fishing is about the memories you create during the experience (to be completely honest, this is usually something fishermen say when they fail). And on that January day, family and friends had a chance to catch up, little kids got to run around on the frozen lake, and first-time ice fishermen took up a new challenge.

At one point during the festivities, my best friend and I talked about our favorite memories of the lake. We reminisced about rowing out in the middle of a hot summer day, with him stuck in a full blown leg cast. What would we have done if he had fallen in? We talked about how we once witnessed a real lake monster: a three-foot long snapping turtle swimming with an upside-down catfish in its mouth. From afar it looked like something out of a horror movie, but that didn’t stop us from rowing out and investigating it. We laughed about the time my fishing pole was literally ripped off of the dock, shooting out into the lake like a cannonball. I thought my rod was gone forever, the victim of a largemouth bass’s ferocity. Thirty minutes later, though, we saw the bobber pop up about one hundred yards away. We hopped in a row boat, paddled over to the bobber, and I grabbed the line. Out came a plump 4 pound, 20-inch bass. I tossed it in the boat and began carefully pulling the line with my hands, eventually retrieving my once-lost rod from the depths of the lake. We retold the story of my play-attack on a friend who refused to net a giant catfish for me. My mother heard us yelling from across the lake and thought we were hurt. Finally, I recited the best story of all: the legend of the phantom bass. The phantom was a monstrosity that mysteriously appeared on the end of a stringer hanging off the edge of a dock. A full 8 pounds in weight (enormous by our northern standards), the bass had eaten a 15 inch yellow perch I had placed on the stringer earlier in the day. It got a nasty surprise when it ended up “catching” itself. To this day, the phantom bass is still the biggest bass I’ve ever “caught.” And all I had to do was lift the stringer out of the water!