Friday, October 19, 2018

Exposures - October 2018

With the much-anticipated turning of the calendar from September to October, so begins the turning-on of finned-life of all-forms all-throughout the surf.  Fin-ally.  What ensues to inspire are the orchestration of the most opportune tides of dawn and twilight that the surfcaster dreams of all-summer-long.  As if like clockwork, back bays empty of anchovies, silverside, mullet, shad, and peanut bunker to kick-start the fall run in earnest.  Larger Stripers suddenly appear in the nighttime tide.  Schools of False Albacore porpoise with mouths wide-open through the saltwater's surface, colliding with this egress of southern-swimming bait. Young Bluefish blitz the shoreline and Bonito make for an interesting by-catch.  Seabirds fish-find in flocks and dive into dark balls of bait.  Inshore pods of dolphin surface for air.  The light of day shortens and the life-blood of water slowly sheds of temperature, as a web of migrating sea-life weaves together before our witnessing wonderment of participation as fishermen.     

Like the aching desire to counterbalance against a deeply bent rod to the quiet of night, I'm long overdue (103 days since my last post published in early July) in sharing new blog content.  The following images are those prints I've recently developed from my digital darkroom.  This "roll of film" captured a few of my October outings, beginning with the new moon of the 9th.  In all regards, the best is yet to come, as I cannot wait to capture more photos, and fish..





A healthy showing of Bass to 33" appeared "out back," kicking-off October to a nice start.


A painted body of stripes marking the cycloid-shaped scales of Sax; always such a spectacular sight bringing color to a colorless night.




A fine specimen taken on the night of October's new moon.  "When the moon's away, the Bass will play."


Recounting the day and strategizing the movement of predator and prey.


An angler trying his luck during a run of mullet.




Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Block Island, or... Sandy Hook?


A 2oz. Hogy Heavy looking pretty in pink.  As of Oct. 16th, I only got to run it through or close enough to busting Albies on two retrieves.  With a rigid work schedule taking priority, I am often told far too often that I "missed a real good one earlier."  The season is far from over yet..      


Sanderlings (Calidris alba)


Atlantic Silverside on the move south.


500+ Atlantic Silverside (& bay anchovy) fill the plastic cooler of two "fishermen's" seine netting efforts.  I was told they "taste good."  My opinion is that during mid-October, they "look better" schooling the shore's shallows en masse.  They look best when going aerial as Albie's, Bass, or Blues have their way. 




Fish-finders of the sky doing their thing over silverside, mullet, and anchovy.


Gills bled-out, isthmus sliced, yet.. forgotten.  


The tell-tale anatomy of a surf-sought seasonal pursuit: finlets followed by a lunate tail.


A dead Albie's pectoral fin.




Mullet by the millions on the move south.


Life, recklessly discarded and carelessly disregarded.  The lack of respect for a such a species of fish that comes to play disgusts someone like me when there are three of them left for dead on a beach after a single afternoon of maniacal metal slinging.  


A westerly-wind stirs up the surface and churns sand at this angler's finding feet.  Surfcasters, October has arrived!


It's only the fluid tidal motion of saltwater that serves to distinguish the stark boundary between the world's greatest metropolis of concrete and skyscrapers from the very antipode of human endeavor: pristine saltwater marshes, estuaries, slopes of drifting sand, and a littoral seascape home to scores of varieties of life.   


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Quotes from "The Habit of Rivers"


The Habit of Rivers, written by Ted Leeson, offers one angler’s work of words transcribed from the very homewaters he heeds descending seaward of the Pacific Northwest.  His portrait of language, weaved of and wound in accordance with any fisherman who seeks and values a lasting connection far greater than that of his taught line, are inspirations made clearly of those insightfully-reeled of the intoxicating virtues of Nature and his perennial pursuit for those “sources of hidden significance” that only angling may be lured to reveal of life at-large.  Riseforms of reflection, for what exists beyond the reach of one’s cast and always ahead of his finding footsteps.  Fundamentally, they are the striking moments of recognition one only finds first-hand within the quaking, cork-wrapped grip of a fly rod or witnesses as the breathing, hand-held opalescent afflatus imparted as habit of floating flies through stream shallows for that sudden “surprise out of nowhere.”  Altogether, the book’s pages are the treatise of a retired college English professor, a memoir of the life-long and remarkably-storied revelations – philosophically-minded, historically-measured, and poetically-painted - of an angler aloft in thought, acquainted knee-deep to running water, fishing somewhere and somehow for “points of fixity and pattern in our involvement with rivers and landscapes, with trout and fly fishing, as a way of plumbing their peculiar sustaining power.”  There is always more to fishing than meets the eye, and often enough the invisible parts are the most compelling.

The dozens of quotes and passages listed below are those I chose to share from having read this book.  If not for their linguistic elegance alone, I believe most can be admired for a relatable, innate, and habituated commonality found in the familiar and irreducible practice of angling, whether waded in fresh or saltwater, by means of fly rod or surf-stick.  I hope you can enjoy reading some of them as much as I did.  Then, if you haven't done so, do yourself the favor of reading the book.  Cover to cover, its pages serve as the best $4.18 I’ve ever paid for the pleasure of owning a used paperback on freshwater fly fishing stories.

“Every book is a quotation; and every house is a quotation out of forests, and mines, and stone quarries; and every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

………………………………………………………………………





Ahead lies an apparently simple geometry – the salmon migrate upstream, the fisherman down, and somewhere along this thin ribbon of water, the opposing vectors converge.  It’s astonishing, though, how much more complicated the matter can become.
………………
Even conscientious catch-and-release fishermen, if they’re honest, will admit the difficulty of handling a big fish without a momentary, impulsive desire to possess it.
………………
Salmon don’t pause here; they just pass through, which means that most casts fall on empty water and you’re fishing mainly for a species of coincidence.
………………
The river is a flux, the salmon a counterflux.
………………
To those who pay attention, the coming of the salmon has as much to do with a world view as anything, with a cosmos in or out of kilter.  This, I suppose, as far as I can explain it, is the reason I’ve coaxed myself out of bed long before dawn, managed just enough coffee to simulate consciousness, and driven in a half-sleep for over an hour to arrive at the river before sunrise.  
………………
The salmon run is a confluence of origins and eventualities when, for a moment, life wraps round and touches its own tail.  The countercurrents of river and fish, of beginnings and endings, of ancient days and new ones, are briefly contiguous.  Still at sea, the salmon sense home rivers on the faintest dilution of fresh water and know its significance with the certainty of instinct.  But a fisherman must work to unravel the meaning, and finally his fishing is only an argument, a studied drawing of inferences about undisclosed things.
………………
The salmon move gracefully, are perhaps even beautiful, but what holds you to a spot is their perfect visibility.  The fish you can believe; it’s the fact of your seeing them that seems incredible.
………………
To catch a river unguarded is less a matter of where to look than of when, and so while other fishermen have secret places, I have a secret time.
………………
Most fishermen find better footing in the shifting forces of current than on what is called solid ground.
………………
Fishing in general has always seemed to me a form of subversion anyway.  In a world that insists upon “means” and “ends,” that dooms every path to a destination, fishing elides the categories and so slips the distinction altogether.  You become engaged in the nonterminal, participial indefiniteness of “going fishing.”
………………
To go fishing is essentially functionless, though that’s not at all the same thing as saying it is without purpose.
………………
The craft of angling is the catching of fish, but the art of angling is receptiveness to those connections, the art of letting one thing lead to another until, if only locally and momentarily, you realized some small completeness.
………………
In a world that rolls ceaselessly underfoot, rocking and lurching like a subway car, I’ve found that the cork grip of a fly rod offers a pretty steady handhold – an unremarkable fact that becomes interesting only when, one day, you look up and ask just what the other end of that rod might be attached to.  Though I can’t prove a thing, I trust that it’s something solid.
………………
No two anglers I’ve ever fished with defined their boundaries in quite the same way or devised quite the same rationale for what they did.  We each map the borders of a world and fish in an envelope of our own making that is both intensely personal and flagrantly arbitrary.  If pressed, we can give “reasons” for where we drew the lines, though often enough these are equally capricious and persuasive only to the likeminded.  Our private strictures answer to a vision that encompasses a practical conduct, an aesthetic, and an ethic – which is to say, I suppose, that it is a philosophy. 
……………
The darkest water is usually best, and coming upon it gradually from the edges, shading from the visible to invisible, sanctions your anticipation.  Only an understanding of shallows entitles you to depths.
………………
The earth swims through space in the narrowest band of possibility circling round the sun, not all that different, really, from the trout stream at my feet, travelling its own ecliptic between lifeless banks.
………………
It takes good river eyes to see them through the wrinkled crosscurrents that cast fishlike shadows on the bottom.  But if you wait, in time a billowy upwelling from beneath the bridge smooths the surface into perfect uniformity, as though a window pane were laid on the water.  It drifts downstream and slowly dissipates, a momentary lens fixed on the secrets of the river.  Before the window closes, I count four rainbows.
………………
A running river is not the uniformity we see.  Near the bottom is a chaos of eddies and whirlpools, backwashes and dead water and pillowy cushions.  The flow is laminar with current layered on current, each a different configuration of effects, a different landscape for the fish – fierce hydraulic winds, jagged seams and breaks, shifting edges and dynamic, twisting columns.  What we see as only water, the trout must sense as a vibrantly textured world.  Current and obstruction sculpt the river into strata of force, fantastic canyons and rugged crags, deep washes and cliffs of turbulence, and the trout shapes its existence around them as closely and surely as an Anasazi.
(The Anasazi being an ancient Native American Indian people of the southwestern U.S. – Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado - renowned for colonizing an extensive network of cliff-sited dwellings)
………………
Seeing the first trout of the year was more than a relief – it was a form of spiritual survival.  The trout were still there; something important had continued.
………………
Every angler is an expert in the husbandry of hope, doling it out one spot, one cast, one fly at a time.
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Catching is not all of fishing, nor size the whole story in catching.
………………
There are places in a river that must simply be stumbled upon.  Their logic, if it is ever understood at all, comes only after the fact.  Refusing to advertise themselves, they remain hidden and so remain yours, at least as far as you can tell, which is far enough.
………………
I make the first casts to the tail end, less in anticipation of raising a fish than in raising the pleasure of anticipation.
………………
The gear is of little help; it is built by summer, rigged for seduction rather than struggle, its employment a slender insinuation into the ways of the river.  A looping fly line transcribes the contour of the breeze.  Feathers and fur take the shape of an afternoon hatch.  A fly rod curves with the trajectory of a June twilight.  Each implies the other.  But on a raw winter day, the tackle in the trunk seems far less substantial than it did six months ago, not so much inadequate as insufficiently material for what’s ahead, and you wonder if maybe you made a mistake.  Everything – the weather, the water, the fish, the absurdly tiny dry flies in a brittle plastic box, your own better judgment, all argue against your being there.  But somehow there you are, urging private folly against prevailing wisdom, leaving others to wonder whether you know a little more or a little less than they do.  Which is precisely the case.
………………
Lovers, poets, religious madmen, and anglers seem to me to have this in common – they live for the impassioned anticipation of an uncertain thing.
………………
Few of us would fish if the object were perpetually unachievable, if fish were caught only rarely and then with extreme difficulty.  If anticipation were largely vain, it couldn’t sustain us.  But it is equally true, I think, that few of us would fish if trout were caught on every cast.  Reduce anticipation to certainty, and there’s little left to appreciate.  Catching fish is undeniably a pleasure, and I’d rather do it than not, but there is a pleasure too in fishing, the savor of pure possibility always on the brink of realizing itself – or not – and the attraction of fishing has much to do with the keenness of expectation and desire urged against the uncertain and unpredictable.  That is, it has much to do with the peculiar pleasure of hope, which balances on the slightest of perches between unfulfillable wishfulness and foregone conclusion, and looks precisely like a trout fly.
………………
As both commencement and terminus, as the point of departure and culmination, the trout fly is the nexus of the sport, a tiny point from which radiate a thousand strands of our engagement.  Despite its reliance on the line, fly fishing is not linear.  It is radial and weblike.  At the center is a rising trout, and millimeters above its nose is the fly.  From it, paths trace outward to the engineering and art of tackle making, to geology and hydrology, botany and birds, aquatic and terrestrial insects, landscapes, books, history, photography, and a thousand other intersecting filaments that lead just as far as you wish to go.
………………
To make a thing by hand and in so doing give it the imprint of yourself is a distinctly godlike activity.  You sit down, deity of the vise, and from bags of feather and fur, people the world of your fly boxes with creations made in your own image, that answer only to the design or delusion of your own mind.  That the final products turn out as equivocally as the creations of other gods at other times merely reinforces the connection.
………………
A fly that takes shape from feather, furs, and hairs may be an imitation, but it is not faked or ingenuine.  That a trout believes a trout fly to be something alive comes as no surprise to the tyer.  There’s life in the materials, and that we catch trout on feathers and fur, lure one animal with another, strikes me as a perfectly proportioned and symmetrical idea, and also an ancient one. 
………………
(On the “potent, mystical material” that is grizzly hackle, “or any of the variant hackles that are barred, flecked, or figured with the alternating patterns of life.”)
Its long, narrow feathers, tightly banded in honey and cream, droop like tendrils, lush as an orchid.  It deserves its own bodyguard – to protect it from me if no one else.
………………

Catching fish is, often enough, simply not that difficult, and to hang your hope on it is to make the universe play by your rules for a little while.  This, I think, is the unconscious genius of the fisherman and the brilliance of fishing. 
(“it” being, tying a fly and fishing one)
………………

To find wild geese, you must seek them where they live, which is almost always a place called “the middle of nowhere,” whose only known approach is the highway of excess.
………………
Their angling lives were molded from the conviction that it’s infinitely better to be on the water than not, and on the water you fish, and when you fish, you fish for whatever is there.  The fact of the fish is secondary, its particular denomination something to be dealt with only afterward.
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All other divisions aside, I think in the end there are but two kinds of anglers – those born to fishing and those not.  It has nothing to do with expertise or determination or enjoyment.  A born fisherman has a soul that wiggles, and though he may be temperamentally inclined to this species or that method, beneath it all is the simple, overriding compulsion to be connected to a fish.  If need be, any fish, any way.
………………
At some level, all fish and fishing, like all gods or powerful emotions or other forms of intoxication, are more alike than not, and it may be that the only difference between a passion and an addiction is the worthiness of its object.  I wouldn’t know.
………………

According to Jung, crossing a river represents a fundamental change of attitude.  Pity he didn’t fish; he would have recognized that rivers are far more powerful as agents of transformation than symbols for it.
………………

In fishing (among other things) style and technique are important only insofar as they define the shape of one’s appreciation.  Alter the style, and you change as well as the nature of your pleasure. 
………………

You fish, in essence, for surprise out of nowhere, for an instant in which you suddenly become aware that you’re attached to a heartbeat. 
………………
You want to catch the fish, but you want more to figure it out, and the particular satisfactions stem less from the eventuality than the process by which the whole thing unfolds.
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Rumors take on a life of their own whenever big fish are involved.
………………
Every angler radiates a force field, a little zone of sovereignty he carries with him up and down the river, shrinking or enlarging it according to the character and promise of the water he’s fishing.  The slightest trespass on the farthest limits reverberates faithfully to the center, like a moving magnet inducing current in an electrical wire.
………………
A river, like the aurora borealis or a landscape or a radish, is only itself and has no way to resist being channeled into preconceptions or filtered through assumptions that falsify what it is.  Come upon a river with purpose, or desire, or ideas, or even words and you merely make it into these things.  We have overlooked countless rivers by seeing them just this way – that is, by not really seeing them at all.
………………

(On the anthropomorphism of Nature and how a writer’s use of words “giving shape to what we see, preempts what it may actually be.”  Specifically, “as many fishermen know, and many writers seem not to” that “despite what you may read, rivers can’t “sing” and they don’t “dance;” they can’t “chatter merrily” or “rush with impatience;” pools don’t “brood” and riffles don’t “laugh.”)
Investing the natural world with human behaviors has become suspect.  The whole enterprise attempts to make something more out of something already whole – and ends up making it less.
………………
Catch-and-release may be good conversation, but it is ethically ambiguous.  Between the man who kills and eats a fish and the man who derives pleasure from a trout’s panicked struggles, it’s worth asking who occupies the moral high ground.  Or if there is any.
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(On harvesting fish, and how “on a purely biological level, we must kill to survive.”)
Stripped of the opaqueness of euphemism, a central truth of fishing emerges – nothing, not fish, not fisherman, just lives; they all live at the expense of something else.  To continue living at all requires certain insensitivities.  Ritualizing them doesn’t change the fact, though ritual may help to forgive it. 
………………
Fishing is not apart from life, nor like life, and is no more a “metaphor” for life than a pregnant woman is.  It is the thing itself.
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If you can forget what others have said or written, and resist their efforts to transform a river into something else, the river will transform you.
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I don’t think I’m stretching the matter at all to say that given half a chance, a trout stream can make you a better person.  This isn’t particularly a reason that I fish, but certainly one of the things I like about it. 
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A river is only itself.  If forced, the water will mirror the likeness of an ego; on its own, it reflects only sky and clouds, and readily rewards those who approach it with humility and wonder.
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The irreducible constant of fishing is water.
………………
With a few firm exceptions, fishing from boats holds little appeal.  It has a certain industrial quality about it, a no-nonsense fixation on the business of catching fish, and I’d much rather drift from place to place, working the promising water on foot, which brings you closer to everything.
………………
When the fish don’t come, as sometimes they don’t, you grasp, all at once, the comic sense of scale, the cosmic disparity between the volume of water in front of you and the ridiculously small fly with which you are attempting to “search” it.  In the mind’s eye appears an aerial photograph – a vast expanse of blank water surrounding a randomly placed, subatomic speck.  In the face of that kind of futility, another cast is almost unbearable.
………………
A point arrives when fishing turns into casting, and casting devolves into empty and mechanical reflex that barely registers on consciousness.
………………
(On the “pervasive attitude, relentlessly vented in magazines and books and fly shops, where the only trout worth mentioning run so many inches or pounds, and the failure to catch them is attended by the subtle guilt that you’re not ‘doing your best.’”)
A brand of gunnysack-ism persists in the era of catch-and-release, and you feel the weight of an unspoken assumption: that the way, the proper way, to go about fishing is to seek out the best water and do what’s necessary to extract its trophies.  Anything less makes you less than a serious fisherman, a lightweight if you don’t succeed, a mere dabbler if you don’t care to try – angling’s version of the “be all you can be” mentality that insists upon its own somewhat diminished notion of being.
………………
The fish of a lifetime can make your day and spoil something larger.
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A fisherman does well to heed the creatures that fly.  For the fisherman, birds still reenact their ancient role of augury.
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For Aristotle, the soul tends upward; spiritual things naturally rise.  This is the only proposition I know of that broaches a metaphysical argument for dry-fly fishing.
………………
Few moments in fishing hold the same immediacy and vividness as the rise to a floating fly, and none are endowed with the same satisfying sense of closure.
………………
A drifting fly is a test, a series of questions inscribed on the surface.  It is the visual extension of our imagination, probing what can’t be seen and charting the shape of human inquisitiveness and expectancy.
………………
When a fish takes a fly, it hasn’t become more manlike; rather, the angler has become more fishlike.  Each cast tries the limits of the river; each take successfully integrates us into its processes and offers an increment of understanding.
………………
The surface of the river is a hypothetical fulcrum, balancing the aquatic world with our own imperfect grasp of it.  On this plane of our own invention, we cast our surmise, wonder, and hope bound up in so much feather and fur.
………………
(On “the fulcrum of seasons” and “the recognition of autumn coming suddenly” in that “one day you first hear the geese, or rather, you first become aware of yourself hearing them.”)
Bound for the south, these birds seem to me a strange point of fixity and resoluteness.  Perhaps geese are the real geophysical constant, for in a sense they don’t move at all.  They take to altitudes to stay in one place, not migrating, but hovering, while the equinoctial tilting of the earth rocks the poles back and forth beneath them.  The geese remain, an index of what used to be where, and of what will return again.  Their seasonal appearance denotes your passing, not their own.
………………
It is a commonplace of angling that to catch fish, you must think like a predator, a vision of fishing that is really more like hunting, and sometimes true.  To fish trout, you must think like the prey and work a fly in the knowledge of how it feels to try to escape, to shrink yourself to insignificance in the face of impending threat when everything about you advertises your presence.  Being the predator is exciting, but being the prey is a lot more like life and infinitely more interesting, since in the end, the prey sets the terms and so call the shots.
………………
In the end, to fish well is to cultivate an arrangement of time and place, of circumstance and perspective.  We arrange ourselves into the arrangement, and if the collusion is careful and lucky, we reap a kind of enclosed moment of some sharply felt beauty and significance. 
………………
Fishing is commonly, and mistakenly I believe, regarded as a form of escapism.  But it seems to me more closely allied with a deeper historical impulse, a submerged conviction in the national consciousness from the very beginning that some new and improved brand of the self can be reinvented in the fresher air of uncorrupted places, where the best things will flourish and the worst die of inanition.







~ Select sentences exemplifying Leeson’s technique of interweaving repetition (anaphora & epistrophe) ~

…………………………………………
I dig the spare keys from my pocket and, twisting around in the seat, looking over my shoulder to back the trailer to the river’s edge, I see on the rear window the first streaks of the first winter rain.
………………
…where I will watch the last few rises to the last few caddis, down to zero, on a summer-solstice evening, at the best part of the best part of the year.
………………
A fly tyer’s materials are the anticipation of an anticipation.
………………
But at certain times, in certain moods, it simply feels better to be moving than standing still.  And rather than go no place, I decided to go no place in particular.
………………
That something as beautiful as trout inhabit something as beautiful as a trout stream is a coincidence of inexpressibly good fortune, and just the kind of thing you can steer by.
………………
You wade in the reflection of a reflection, and the coppery water streams against your legs like something molten. 
………………
And now they navigate seven hundred circuitous miles, 6,000 feet of altitude, and a hundred million years to this spot at the heart of the heart of the mountains, surfacing high in this oldest of places.  Altitude is a fortification, and it is also fortifying.
………………
A good night’s sleep comes only after the trip – sometimes only after the season.











Friday, June 29, 2018

Dam, You Don't Say


The curl of crashing whitewater tumbling and breaking onto a shoreline was nowhere to be recognized through the soaring survey of his gawking gaze gainfully panning over the petrified landscape.  Nor even faintly audible or listened, a rhythmic, cavernous rumble or sharp, slapping crackle produced of splintering surf or collapsing wave set.  So it seemed, that two time zones and thousands of westward miles away rather, while perched atop the rust-colored and geologically-youngest stratum of Navajo Sandstone capping the three-hundred-million-year-old strata of the Colorado Plateau, inching a pair of desert-dusted trail sneakers closest to a vertiginous canyon rim, where hundreds of feet below spread the serpentine and smooth, sapphire-colored skin to the second largest man-made reservoir in the country, Striped Bass were at long last, the last longing thought on his vacationing mind. 
How damn surprising, he would later conceive, having learned from one page chance turned upon in a Department of Wildlife Resources fishing guidebook, that schooling far below and somewhere between his many-miles-wide vista of corralling red rock, swam none other than the revered rockfish. That below the visibly characteristic lines and stark sedimentary layers of strata spanning laterally above a waterline, longer grew the characteristic strata of stripes and lateral lines of the linesider below that waterline.  That mirrored under a panoramic, bluebird-ceiling emptied over Powell, so foraged a transplanted tribe of bass in the reticent imitation of blue below.  That at the actual transcontinental “crossroads of the West,” in of all places, the Beehive State, before the freshwater chasm of a hydroelectric-generating segment of the carving Colorado River, he would unintentionally gravitate nearest to the top inshore saltwater game fish of his native East Coast, while sightseeing on the West Coast.  That within an artificial lake risen from a desiccated desert, equally as artificial would be the concept of casting plastic, trebled artificials here for a championed saltwater fish.  So however damn convinced, he would imagine, if even by her natural nature as the watertight queen of the whitewater, as the physiologically anadromous M. saxatilis, that it certainly was dammed-surprising she could conceivably lurk and fin as closely as the reach of a loaded rod’s hope aimed and hurled aerially from shore.
Yet it was completely true.  Out there, within a lake’s shoreline framed of vertically-rising igneous and metamorphic rock risen from the basement of time, far below the stippled surround of vegetative varieties of blackbrush and shadscale rooted far below the call of the California Gull circling above, a shrieking stimulus instinctively alarming any number of prehistoric-looking lizards looking skyward to scurry for shelter over the terrain’s recognizably reddish scattered sand, so swims the recognized state fish of Maryland, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.  Out there, below the widening wakes of passing pontoon boat keels and captaining revelers, listens the celebrated state saltwater fish of New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and New Hampshire to the muffled drone of outboards slicing open the film of a reservoir’s still surface above.  Water, that is of the same river running seaward through the breath-taking Grand Canyon, hundreds, and at serpentine sections, thousands of feet below rims it carved over millions of flowing years.  The same river that is renowned for its native cutthroat, rainbow, brown, brook, and lake trout, large and small mouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and catfish.  The species of fish one would immediately and naturally picture as the prized, prismatic-patterned obsession of a western fly fisherman’s forward-reaching front cast fallen over freestone.  The same reservoir of a river whose headwater is La Poudre Pass Lake on the western side of the Continental Divide, 10,174 ft. above sea level in the snow-capped Rockies.  Yet here, in arid heat, downstream of white-water rapids and upstream of neon Las Vegas, is a non-tidal body of water duly credited in surfacing an angling record rockfish in 1991 weighing 48.7 lbs.  From tip to tail, the freshwater leviathan measured 45 inches in lucky, landlocked-length. 
Perhaps the outright irony of my discovery was simply a short leap of faith away anyway.  Across the vista of water, buttressing both ends of a concrete dam, lay the spirit of a timeless, desert secret.  A secret geologically-written for those inclined to imaginatively interpret from the lining reservoir rock’s striped-strata of iron-y rusty-red colors seeping in plain sight at Sax’s surrounding shoreline.  Truth be told, the iron-y color to this strange story of piscatorial coincidence is painted by none other than the master herself – Mother Nature.  Here, Her medium of choice and identifiably characteristic technique is evidenced in the inherent oxidization of these rocks specifically-rich in the iron-oxide mineral hematite; the specific reaction of which hemorrhages all the U.S. Southwest of its red and coppery colors.
  In this land of water-carved canyons, havens honored by national park names such as Bryce and Zion, of this ancient topography carved of massive, gravity-defying stone arches and magnificent horseshoe bends, testaments of eroding-time itself, however rock-solid, sacred, and still, it nevertheless assures a surf fisherman from New Jersey to readily admit that if these remarkable rocks couldn’t adopt the viridescent color palette of a rockfish, they at least offer humble homage in their growth of distinct and characteristic stripes.  And for a striper fisherman, I find that to be rock-solid enough.  How dam reassuring, that in a state named Utah, Striped Bass swim the depths of drinking water, in what is more ironically, the fish’s adopted homewater.








The geographically southern-most point of the Lake Powell reservoir as seen from the Glen Canyon Dam.  This body of water encompasses 1,900 miles of shoreline over Utah and Arizona, with an average measured depth of 132 ft and maximum depth of 583 ft. 



Completed in Sept. 1963, The Glen Canyon Dam stands 710 ft. in height and spans 1,560 ft. end-to-end.



The anadromous M. Sax. as seen on page 58 of the fishing guidebook I thumbed while in Utah.



“All there is to thinking,” he said, “is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren't noticing which makes you see something that isn't even visible.” - Norman Maclean.