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#a48 :: Fishin’ reel

April 1, 2008

ENLARGE
Vinny and I went fishing once. My best buddy since 6th grade A/V duty, my (then) future best man. My good friend.

Out in his scruffy little 18-foot runabout with the asthmatic Evinrude – or was it a Yamaha – in Long Island Sound.

We set out from New London mid-morning, fortified with a cooler full of beer and sandwiches and a boxful of old sea tackle.

Swacked by a wicked sinus infection, I was popping 12-hour time-release decongestants, which slowly did the trick, so I felt well enough to sail.

The wind and sea were fair, the air about 75 degrees. It was a damn nice day for catching bluefish …
We put in at Stonington, and motored out about an hour and a half to the Rip.

The Rip was the edge of the Atlantic sea-shelf. There, the tide surged across a sudden 800-foot change in seafloor elevation and created huge turbulence on the surface – and currents where the fish were known to hunt.

Bluefish liked the Rip, or so Vinny said.

Somewhere on the trip out, I thought I’d really like a beer. Despite the warnings on the decongestant label, I figured one little 3.5%-alcohol Budweiser wouldn’t hurt, so I enjoyed half a can.

We stopped a couple times en route to the Rip, just to see if they were biting:

Toss out the sea anchor. Rig up a lure on a 7-foot ocean rod. Whip-cast it as far as you could manage (maybe 20 yards), set the ratchet on silent and slowly troll it back in, moving in fits and spurts, like a wounded minnow.

My head started to hurt.

No bites on the lines. We reeled in, stowed the rods and motored on to the east.

Another stop. More fruitless casting and reeling. And my head was hurting more.

Man, I thought. Some sinus infection. Or … maybe … I shouldn’t have had that beer.

After a sandwich and another half hour of catching nothin’ but seawater – although we did spot one huge sunfish lolling on its side, a 5-foot-diameter disc of meat weighing close to a ton – we moved on to the Rip.

By this time, my headache was complete – a bitter slab of unrelenting pain.

Someone had buried an axe between my eyes, and was twisting the handle every time the boat rocked on the swell. That little sip of beer had disssssssolved the coatings on aaaaall the tiny time pills in the one capsule I had taken. Every single chemical in my decongestant was slamming my skull from the inside.

Ouch. Fuck. God.

Meantime, we had reached the Rip. You could see a patch of standing waves – a line of them maybe 100 feet deep, stretching from north to south across our heading.

We heaved anchor, got out our tackle and fished.

BANG. I hooked something fast. Three minutes of heaving and reeling later, I had landed a nice 15-inch bluefish. My head was killing me. But here was the kharmic reward.

BANG. Vinny hooked another. But the waves were getting rougher. Turns out the tide was ebbing, the contents of the Sound were emptying into the Atlantic, down an 800-foot sea-shelf right beneath us, and the water was sucking us straight into the Rip.

No huge deal. Just reel in, fire up the motor, cruise back into the Sound and safer waters. And anchor and cast again.

BANG. We kept hooking fish, reeling them in and landing them. The minute they were landed, one of us would restart the boat, motor a hundred yards or so out of the Rip to quieter water and drop anchor again.

At some point, the fates chose to have their little giggle: simultaneously, Vinny and I each hooked a fish, the boat fell into the Rip, and someone shoved an 18-inch Bowie knife into each of my ears.

Cursing the pain, the sudden rocking of the boat and my hard-fighting fish, I reeled in, tossed the whole thing to the deck – fish, rod and tackle – and hit the throttle.

The wheel was hard a-port, so the boat cavitated. Badly. At full-gas, the screw shoved the boat into a nasty sideways tilt, and then lost its grip on the water – whining hard in the air as I fell against the gunwale and Vinny almost went overboard.

We regained our feet – I can’t remember who grabbed the wheel – probably Vinny, and reeled in our tackle and motored back out of the Rip a good 200 yards this time to laugh and have something else to drink. It was a Coke this time for me. It did nothing for my headache, or the sore arm I wound up nursing.

And at that point we counted the fish – we had hauled in eight or nine thoroughly legal bluefish, not counting the youngsters we had to throw back – and called it a good day on the water.

Sometime an hour and a half later as we lashed the boat back onto the trailer, my skull quit pounding. The land grew solid underfoot again. The sun set. The turbulent waves receded in the distance.

And we carefully gutted the fish, and cooked a couple for dinner.

No punchline. Just the greatest day of fishing – and some of the worst pain – I have ever experienced.

This reel is a thrift-store find. Just because I loved the feel of the thing in my hands, the chewed-up brass stop, the black Bakelite sides, the reflectorized blue logo, the chromed stainless steel fittings.

Just because I wanted something tangible to remind me of that thoroughly spiritual day, when animus met anima aboard a fool’s bargain with the tide.

Filed under: Fetish, symbol, Tool | Comments (1)

1 Comment

  1. Vinny Boucher April 12, 2008 @ 7:18 am

    Fishin’ reel. It is as it was.

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