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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Holy Mackerel

Of course, it's not good to post while intoxicated, but, of course, well, I am going to.

There's a joy to fishing. There's a spot. Silent. Clean. Untainted.
It's a bay. There are trees. Few homes on it, despite its short distance from Oceantown. And silence. Pristine.
The spot is under a bridge. There are two rocks. One is for one person. One is for the other. They both sit above the tide line. There's a chance you'll catch weeds at both. Be diligent. Reel quickly.
Cast away from the bridge. The mackerel will be there.
I switched spots for a while. There's a government dock. There are rednecks. They speak loudly. Every other word is fuck. They disrespect the fish. They scare the fish away.
I went back to the bridge.
Nature smiled.
Peace returned. Nobody believes it, but I cast. The mackerel, they understood. As the hook hit the water on the first cast, the mackerel struck. There is no interlude between the end of the cast and the bite on the bait. No interlude. With the connection of water with lure, the fish welcome my return. They strike. There is no fight as I reel in. The mackerel land gently on the rocks near where I reel. It surrenders easily.
Eating from the ocean, I understand.
The toxicity of the fish takes me from a peaceful place to an ugly realization. There isn't a fish for everyone. There isn't a clean spot for everyone to fish. The 200 years of unfettered, unregulated, indifferent fishing has left me with nothing to catch. What there is to catch is toxic.
An oil bottle floats by. A carefully labelled medical bag follows. I reel in a clump of toilet paper. I move back to the spot under the bridge.
At least, looking away for the bridge, I can believe that there are still clean fish, healthy fish, good fish to catch. They agree. I catch the biggest mackerel ever with my last cast. I stop fishing after I cast.
It's not polite to ask more of the ocean at this point. It's not fair to ask more of it.
It has just given all there is to give.


Blogger Superdude said...

I think this needs a little bit of explanation.
I spent about three hours yesterday reading a pile of severely depressing statistics about how soon and how inevitable the collapse of the world's food production mechanisms are.
Some estimates suggest that there's less than 30 years left before we're using 100 per cent of the world's oceans' productive capacity. Even now, fish stocks are falling, failing, and disappearing. I could spout stats and such, but, suffice it to say, if you're eating it and it's fish, it's probably going, going, gone.
So this piece, in all its vagaries, is me drunkenly explaining the difference between two fishing spots I went to yesterday. One is a government wharf. It's ugly. It's oily. It stinks. Fishing boats of the worst kinds are there. Boats equipped for dragnet fishing, the worst, most destructive kind, moor there. (Imagine you're picking flowers from a field of wild plants and animals, and to do so, you have a scoop that takes the first foot of soil off the ground, and scoops it into a net, and that net is dragged up onto the boat, where keep the right flowers, and throw everything else--dirt, animals, and flowers you're not specifically fishing for--back into the ocean, dead. That's dragnet fishing).
It smells bad. There are bumblefuck redneck fichermen swearing around every corner, driving their trucks up and down the dock. The water is oily and often filled with all manner of garbage. The dragnets on the boats are half-full of rotting fish they didn't bother to take out.
The other spot, less than half a kilometre away, sits in the shadow of a concrete bridge. There's not much traffic, and the ugliness of the governemnt dock around the bend is completely hidden from this spot. There are big white rocks at the waterline. They're all skirted by yellow-brownish seaweeds. Little crabs crawl over everything, scavenging what they can for food. Little fish swim by. Overhead, often you'll see great blue herons, ospreys, kingfishers, comorants, and plain old seagulls. In the water, between the huge kelp plants, there are all kinds of big fish, too. Pollock, perch, and mackerel can show up at the end of your line at any given time.
The reason I switched spots that day was because a jet-ski-riding redneck ex-pat from the dock said I wouldn't catch "fuck all" from my quiet little spot. I was having a slow day of fishing, so I decided to try the dock.
I didn't catch anything there, either. But I did see how ugly commercial fishing makes fishing in general seem. Going back to my old, quiet spot near the brigde really made me think about the way we treat the oceans out here, and how easy it would be to just fish the way I do, and not have to deal with that whole ugly dock situation.
And, in my mind, ignoring the fact that not everyone has four hours a day to stand around some rocks not catching any fish is entirely invalid. Or moot.

9:50 PM


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