Introducing BarJack, the Anti-Hero
February 27, 2011
He is known, by those of us who regularly fish with him, as BarJack. The name fits. He has a certain hyper-kinetic energy, especially on the water. Jacks are saltwater fish that are known to occasionally visit fresh and brackish environments. Again, that fits. He’s certainly more at home with salt spray than mayflies, but cut his angling teeth on bass and bluegills. However, the genesis of his nickname was a bonefishing trip where he developed the uncanny ability to cast into a school of bonefish and pull out a barjack. Repeatedly. After so many repetitions of this trick we assumed he was doing it on purpose, and the name stuck.
He is not, as the stereotype goes, a man of few words, not where fishing is concerned. He’ll talk your ear off about the relative merits of a Huffnagle versus a Slim Beauty for tarpon leaders, or about the difference between laid-up or migrating fish, but that’s when he’s on, or near, or in transit to or from the water. But, ask him to jot down a few words about his recent trip to hit snook on the beaches, or the annual trek to the Vineyard for False Albacore and you’re lucky to get a sentence or two. (And more and more often those will be via text on whatever brand of “smartphone” he’s sporting at the time… its predecessor almost certainly having died of an overdose of salt water under the influence of fish fever.)
There are occasions when he’s a little more forthcoming with information, but he appears to have some aversion to the printed word. Perhaps it’s the act of putting something down on paper—recording for posterity an event that was essentially private—or maybe he simply hates to brag. (He’s one of the few anglers about whom this might actually be true.) I think, though, that the real reason is that he’s a fisherman, plain and simple. It’s not that he doesn’t reflect on his experiences—no one can spend as many hours on the road as he does and not practice a little self examination—but for him there is no need to record his thoughts to make sense of his experiences. Fishing already makes sense to him. It’s a simple act that keeps him happy and motivated… for more fishing, of course.
BarJack has a clear self-view, I think, uncluttered by ego or pretension. He’s not a writer, and doesn’t pretend to be. You won’t find him posting on forums or blogs (although a deep-search of his hard drive would reveal him to be a regular visitor to a slew of fishing-related sites, especially during the doldrums of work hours). He’s an accomplished enough angler to easily be a guide—and he could do so in salt or fresh water, for an impressively large variety of species—but that would simple distract him from fishing. Unlike us professionals of the sport, he has no need to keep a log, no need to know if the fish were biting better last year on a particular date and tide, no need to discover if the tarpon migration started a little earlier this year or the permit are off the wrecks sooner. He’ll be fishing anyways. Period. I also sincerely doubt he keeps a fishing journal, for much the same reason. However, he knows that I do, and that I fancy myself a word-smith and writer of the old school. So, I have been chosen to be his editor and knock the few salt-bleached, blood-stained words that he can squeeze out into some sort of shape. The ideas are his and as many of his words as came in the correct order to form English sentences, but— in the great tradition of historical records—that’s all I can vouch for.
I’d like to list him as a contributor, an author to this tiny corner of the blogosphere, but he has quietly refused on the grounds that his internet connection sucks, and he does not want to learn the intricacies of a Word-Press admin panel. I recognize this as the subtle misdirection it is; he simply knows it would—again—steal time from fishing. So, you’ll find his posts under the tag BarJack. I assure you, he is neither an invention nor a nom de plume. Any vagueness of detail or hint of prevarication is simply a device necessitated by our hero’s natural shyness and dislike of the lime-light, not to mention the fact that his stories are not a roadmap for other DIY anglers. In fact, we might label him the ultimate anti-hero. So much so that—unless he actually catches an 80-pound G.T. while someone is there to document it—you’ll find a refreshing lack of grip-n-grin, look-at-how-much-of-a-douchbag-hero-I-am shots accompanying his posts.
So here is my official welcome to the relatively unknown BarJack the Angler and I look forward to posting his reports from his latest adventure which he has dubbed The Indian Ocean Chronicles.