Light at the End

Light at the End . . .

The Lake in Central Park
(NYC 05 29 2020)

The sun, often hidden during this strange spring, has at last emerged to take its place as the season begins to brighten and warm at the end of May. Such conditions are not necessarily good for fishing, but given what we have all collectively had to endure, day after day sheltered indoors, it’s good to get out at last, and go fishing.

 

Silver Dollar Crappie
(NYC 05 29 2020)

Bluegill in the Shade
(NYC 05 29 2020)

And the angler is not alone. Sometimes it seems that nature’s other creatures are also happy to see you out fishing again (if only in the hope of a free fishy handout).

Old Mossback
(NYC 05 29 2020)

I have been fishing New York City’s parks for years and there is always on every trip a moment or more worthy of a story. That fact might be the brightest light at the end of this long tunnel of pandemic time.

Follow the Rules and Have Fun
(NYC 05 29 2020)

— rPs 05 31 2020

 

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“A Good Excuse”

” A Good Excuse” . . .

Line on the Water During the Lockdown
(NYC 04 20 2020)

Late April is a period of “peak fishing” in and around the New York region: spring trout, spring striper, as well as bass and sunfish just before the annual spawn. This stretch of fertile time provides “a good excuse” to pause what obligations one has by day and wet a line.

 

This April has been a cruel time, to paraphrase the poet, and I have experienced my share as an essential (healthcare) professional. It has not been inclement weather or religious holidays tying one up from some quality time on the water. We wish it was just that.

 

Life continues, however, and given the concept of Social Distancing, which has become a global directive as well as common sense, it seems to me fishing offers a natural unforced way  — “a good excuse” —  to spend some socially responsible time outdoors even within New York City, the American epicenter of the Covid-19 health crisis.

Going Green: a Silver Lining to Solitary Social Distancing in the Spring of 2020.
(NYC 04 20 2020)

— rPs  04 30 2020

 

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Distance

Distance . . .

Rain on the Tenkara Rod
(NYC 03 17 2020)

I have long noticed that New Yorkers, prone to tailgaiting, often keep their distance from anglers fishing the city’s park ponds. Add a gray day with a little rain, and one can be positively alone.

The conditions have been ideal for late winter and early spring fishing. Add the COVID-19 pandemic and the additional space of social distancing, and there has appeared ample room to cast the long tenkara rod with fixed line, even along what is usually a busy path.

Such a spot afforded me my first take and solid wrestle with a fish in 2020. St. Patrick’s Day, normally a bustle of less than sober revelers in and around the usual business, gave me several hours of therapeutic solitude and a solid bluegill dressed in rich purple and orange colors.

Lucky Start: First Fish of 2020
(03 17 2020)

Spring arrived on March 19th, the earliest such equinox in 124 years. A similar gray and rainy start inspired me to go out again.

I’m glad I did, as the city of New York has since entered a stranger than science fiction time. Like the character Roux in The Plague by Albert Camus, I have witnessed the public space of Manhattan gradually empty into a quiet stage set of sorts. Spring flowers and singing birds have since taken over, giving a heartbreaking natural beauty to the city under siege.

I worked one fly for a few hours in Central Park in the shadow of the Mt. Sinai hospital complex (my employer!), and the reward, in a spring now without baseball, was the local grand slam:

Black Crappie

(NYC 03 20 2020)

Bluegill

(NYC 03 20 2020)

Largemouth Bass

(NYC 03 20 2020)

What a positive start to the 2020 fishing season.

I must set aside my angling avocation to focus on my professional role as a CRCST, managing the sterillization of surgical trays and assisting any way I can in the hospital’s PACU. The fear of sickness subdued by the duty to serve, and soothed by a few hours of good fishing.

Grateful I continue to be for fishing in general, and tenkara specifically, for the distance, physical and psychological, the sport provides from the weights of the world.

Hope
(NYC 03 20 2020)

— rPs 03 31 2020

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Waiting

Waiting . . .

Waiting by the Bay
(02 28 2020)

February for the local fisher can be a time for fly tying, reading, or simply cleaning and organizing tackle in anticipation of the new season. Throughout all these pastimes is a central  principal: Waiting.

Waiting for the thaw

Waiting for spring

Waiting for opening day

Waiting for fishing

Leap year adds one additional day to this, the shortest month of the year, so we’ll all be waiting just a little bit longer.

— rPs 02 29 2020

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RUSH-ing to the River

RUSH-ing to the River . . .

A fraction of Neil Peart’s philosophical artistic output
(NYC 01 10 2020)

(for Neil E. Peart, 09 12 1952 – 01 07 2020)
My fly fishing path has been often navigated by mountain bike. Ears free and open to the sounds of the way give my interior radio a  playlist, sometimes stuck on one incessant earworm, sometimes an album I have apparently memorized down to the mix, but always, either way, in music in mind rather than reflection or reminiscing thought.
The latter may best be for the page giving room to describe. Images, personifications,  full characters may dwell in music. There is the narrator of “2112” and the postcard report from “Xanadu.” Song sounds wave to me as I depart and welcome me at the end of an expedition. The tunes in between shift and lift my mood as needed.
Power and drive help me to pedal, later to cast. There are times when only the beat of my mental stereo can coerce the thighs to reach the smooth glide on the downward slope, or over the hump to the opposite bank. Such rhythms, internalized, get set in synch with the necessary speed and intensity of the physical motion, making a kind of yoga out of the outdoor sport. This is why I always have a little or a lot of RUSH.
For its combination of power, nuance, ad road-worthy imagery, I begin my day with the friendly voice of RUSH. This Canadian trio of rock remains relevant, having been the subject of several compelling documentaries over the last decade. And there is that little big thing of the band inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
RUSH also resisted the sentimentality circuit by staying a recording and touring together outfit for 40 years plus one. Retired now, since late 2015, and now, we also now know why. Farewell to “The Professor” — lNeil Peart: percussionist, lyricist, cyclist, and philosophical traveloguer.
The outpouring publishing since his passing reveals how broad and deep the man’s audience is. The irony not stated thus far, though, may be this that I noticed — for such a private man, he did share a heaping helping of his life in hindsight. Deep details is words and still images and instructional videos. He in fact shared far more life story than his two bandmates. I find this amusing, and bet it might even be a kind of chuckle already shared in the private world of RUSH.
Fans, deep and frequent listeners like myself and several I know, can usually mention this band now without enduring the rolling eyes of opinionated cynics. There was a time during university in the 1980s when an individualist would squeeze Peart into an art party circle discussion extolling Morrissey, Dylan, Lou Reed, and Leonard Cohen. “Hey,” I would say, “Peart is Canadian like Cohen, too.” At least the Whitesnake fan gave an affirmative nod.
Legitimacy established by perseverance and the Change with a capital C upon which Neil Peart often ruminated, RUSH remain in radio rotation.

First paragraph reveals joy of opportunity for an author to in print shout out “sources” even those contemporaries of philosopher status.
Excerpt from Small Fry: The Lure of the Little
(NYC 01 2020)

My appreciation of RUSH is doubled because drummer and lyricist, Neil Peart, the band’s primary engine and eyes, is an avid cyclist and speaks to those rhythms and BPMs. He began riding an “acoustic bike” between some cities during tours in the middle of the 1980s and explored China, South America, and West Africa off the road, literally.
Motorcycling and related writings then emerged as his passion after a period spent recovering from the trauma of losing his first wife and daughter within one year in the late 1990s.
When the band together again returned in 2002, “Ghost Rider” became my summer song, the song I would even attempt to sing as I road farther and farther to find fishable water.
That season was hot and a dry one, dust in the streets of Philadelphia, and New York, borne by winds of smoke from forest fires in . . .  Canada. Irony.
More simple, less worldly, then my main concern was how I felt unrequited love living in the townhouse next door and career stagnation in my day vocation. I escaped the workplace to write, or to fish, both often and hard, cycling twenty miles back and forth to smallmouth bass and brown trout rivers I could reach by bike from the city limits of Philadelphia.
“Sunrise in the mirror lightens that invisible load” . . . just like the song penned by Peart! My life at that time emulated musical art.
Reason(s) why? Peart can paint clean landscapes even in phrases of four words or less. Another lyrical talent is his use of strong nouns of place – “white sands / canyon lands / redwood stands / barren lands” – such images can alone describe an entire seasonal narrative along the water. Each works its way specifically because of the generality (the complex conveyed by the simple). Words of rock that speak to the full sensory experience in a manner still personal to an individual listener.
And that drumming! Percussion as complex as a Spey line with a wallet of tips, yet tempered as one switched to a steelhead, or tight to a smallmouth by 5-weight or tenkara rod; a stick, of sorts, not unlike that one for the drum.
Casting a line is rhythm after all, and Neil Peart composed “Mystic Rhythms” that continue to conjure moving pictures in the mind. That alone may explain why Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart make my day’s road music.

Fly Rider:
Excerpt from Philadelphia on the Fly
(NYC 01 2020)

Rock and Ride and Write in Peace, Neil Peart
— rPs 01 14 2020
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.
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“The River” . . .

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The Second Fish

The Second Fish . . .

The Lake in December
(NYC 12 2019)

The day, overcast, the sky white, and the water of the lake reflects a deep chocolate gray from tree leaves now settled on the bottom.

The bare branches and dry rushes speak within the wind as waterfowl patrol the lake. Mated pairs of mallards share the water with flocks of geese. Two swans, their sheer size impressing, provide the brightest sight to be seen.

End of the Year Gathering
(NYC 12 2019)

That’s until an equally white fly, chenille and herl imitating a baitfish, fished very, very slowly, gets picked up with a sudden flash and grab near the bottom. The rod bends, the weight ascends until the surface of the lake ripples and a slab of silvered black and white comes to hand.

The First Fish
(NYC 12 2019)

The black crappie is the primary cold weather fish of New York City’s lakes. A few largemouth bass and yellow perch may be encountered, too, but the crappie predominates.

Near evening the geese descend until dozens begin to call to one another across the water. The white sky turns gray and a steady mist begins to fall. Just before the shivering angler’s will decides to call it a season, as it is the end of December, another strong take awakens the inner heat and happiness as one more battle of catch and release takes place.

The white fly has done its job and the second fish gives satisfaction in the knowledge that the first fish was not a fluke. The second fish is the grand finale for the year.

The Second Fish
(NYC 12 2019)

That’s a whip finish for 2019.

— rPs 12 31 2019

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Fall Fish Finale

Fall Fish Finale . . .

November: a view that transcends cold toes.
(11 29 2019)

What was I thinking, going fishing the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, when almost everyone else was shopping?

I know what I was feeling: cold. The creek was running at 42 degress Fahrenheit, clear enough for 6x tippet and a Hare’s Ear, a Wolly Bugger, even my own Green Guarantee, all of which failed to meet a fish.

The views and solitude along the water were worth the trip. Even so, a fish fooled and brought to the net was the actual goal.

When the sun reached its height and seemed to warm the air just a bit, I fell back on an old faithful, the white fly. No hatch, no action on the nymph, so I tried the tiny baitfish tactic. A swing through a riffle into one of the clear pools, a twitch or two, and at last resistance, followed by the familiar tug and tussle of a taking fish.

The short battle was enough to shake the cold in my bones. In the net, not a trout, but a fallfish as shiny as an ingot of silver. One fish, enough to end the last wade of the season on a successful note.

Fallfish Finale
(11 29 2019)

— rPs 11 30 2019

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