Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Angling History, Part II

Note: this is the continuation of another post, prompted by a writing contest (which has long since passed) on Howard Levett's Windknots and Tangled Lines blog.  I took on the project slowly but earnestly because I thought it was important to the overall goals of my blog.  I've enjoyed putting it together and I hope you enjoy it as well.
Part I
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Home sweet home - Elevation 0.0' 
I fished with other kids quite a bit from about age 9 until age 12, and because of where we're from, I had the opportunity to catch crabs on trot line, nets, and traps, as well as to seine and gill net for fish right in the creek near our home. Hmmmm, mullet.   But our proximity to the marsh allowed me to spend a lot of quality time with oysters, blue crabs, mud crabs, green crabs, fiddler crabs, ghost crabs, and grass shrimp, all things that would become the fabric of my love for the coast, and the basis for my academic and career path in wetland ecology.
I will destroy your will to live!

By age 14 (1988), I was done, D-O-N-E with fishing.  Skateboards, surfboards, and impossible punk rock girls ruled my life.  I honestly don't remember a single fishing outing between age 14 and 21.   I don't remember thinking about fishing.  Certainly didn't buy any tackle.  I worked full-time on the water during the summers following my 20th and 21st birthdays, and yet, never fished.  I started surfing a lot more seriously in 1995 (age 21), so at least I was spending significant time on the water.  But not fishing.

A perspective girlfriend for me,
circa age 18-22.
Note: if you don't know what
this girl is doing, then you got
better grades than me in college.
Approaching age 22, I was getting pretty burnt out on chasing rebellious and unstable young women around, and around that time, my continued fieldwork for school pulled me back into fishing.  I remember being in the Jefferson National Forest one day for a forest ecology lab, and just watching smallmouth bass flit about, thinking, "I bet I could catch one of them."  I must have relayed the thought to my dad, because about a month later, he gave me an Ugly Stik light action casting rod and a Zebco closed-face reel for my 22nd birthday.  That combo got a workout, and I destroyed that reel in no time flat, fishing the silt-lined pools of the New River. Instead of saying "to hell with it," I bought another reel, and six months later, bought a cheap spinning combo. I was hooked - and willing to fish anywhere I could get to, any time I thought they might be biting.
Typical Boone outdoorsman,
although the actual guy is
my old intern from western PA.
Age 23 found me in Boone, North Carolina for graduate school.  I was lucky enough to fall in with a bunch of very stereotypical dudes from Wisconsin and Pennsylvania who were huge trout and walleye anglers.  Yes, they totally talked like the people in "Fargo!!!!"  DON'TCHAKNOW! They showed me the ropes around the stocked trout waters, local alpine lakes, Pisgah National Forest, and also showed me some of the promise of the "Forbidden Zone" as far as worm dunkers and spin fishermen are concerned:
Of course "single hook" meant a couple of things.  You could retrofit all of your spin tackle to only have single hooks.......or you could learn to fly fish.  I chose the latter, picking up a totally ghetto combo from the Boone Roses Department Store, with a bunch of ridiculous awful flies that looked like that they had been tied by a blind man as his wife stood over him, yelling at him about something.  Learning to fly cast sucked, I ain't gonna lie.  Oh, the trees you'll snag!  The head of my department at school, Dr. Neal Lineback, was an old school sportsman (i.e. hunts deer with a black powder hand cannon) and floated me some decent flies, and thank God for that.  Somehow, I started catching fish.  Yeah, they were stocked rainbows.  Shut up. I had some great fishing days on primitive wild waters, and equally great ones on well stocked trout streams close to campus.  Before I knew it, my first year of graduate school was up (holla at ya 3.9 GPA!), and I was ready for a summer at the beach.

Would I find a dozen new girlfriends, giant waves, or a promising career sprouting from my lowly Wetland Technician position?  Well maybe none of those, but I did get to spend a lot of time with one of my life's greatest loves............
Photo by John Batchelder, Feathers and Fur Blog


cofisher said...

I think I know what the girl is doing and I flunked out my first time in college.

Kirk Mantay said...

Ha ha, my point exactly.

Alex said...

Good read! I'm no stranger to what that girl is doing...and you're right. My grades sucked haha

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