We’re so consumed by our phones and social networks, that sometimes we forget to live.
“As soon as you see something, you already start to intellectualize it. As soon as you intellectualize something, it is no longer what you saw.”
— Shunryu Suzuki-roshi
That’s the thing about memory, and any devices (digital or not) that we use to help facilitate memory. Any angler has surely noticed this phenomenon while fighting a big fish. There is a part of your mind—the busy, book-keeping part—that immediately begins recounting the events to you as they happen, in preparation for the story you’ll eventually tell your friends and family (and anyone who seems even remotely interested in fishing).
But storytelling is, by it’s very nature, an editing process. It doesn’t take in the full experience, it cannot. It concerns itself with plot, with character arc and fantastic events. The rest of the experience is simply edited out, excised from the narrative (and, in some ways, from our memory). And worse, the more we tell that story the more it becomes that memory, gradually supplanting the actual experience in our mind. On the other hand, the small fish, the un-memorable catches and, most of all, the unproductive periods spent simply fishing, they are the purest experiences because they are simply lived.
That’s why fishing stories seem so much like fiction, they don’t correspond to what we know real life is like. It’s also why on some level we don’t trust the well-crafted social media image put forth by other anglers. We know what our daily lives are like, how can theirs’ be obviously so much better—well composed, with better colors, bigger fish, prettier girls and nicer food. And so we go out ourselves, armed with an array of media-capturing devices with the goal of competing in this new world of public privacy. We publish videos, post on #TBT, and update the Facebook™ feed. Or sadder still, post on our pathetic blogs (which frankly, no one will read if they don’t make it to a Facebook™ post).
Go ahead, live vicariously. Take a glimpse into the vast Everglades through the eyes and stories of official Estrada Art crewmembers. The first of a new series of films, they will take you into the ‘glades from all angles, on poling skiffs and paddle boards and kayaks. From Islamorada, to Flamingo and Everglades City these dudes are living it.
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I fished with Eric Estrada a couple years ago, well, 2013, but it feels like more than a year and a bit. He joined our crew for something we never could figure a proper name for so I just ended up calling it the Florida Gathering… or something similar. Basically it was a bunch of bloggers and guides (and artists) getting together and fishing. We were supposed to take pics, vids, and write stories on our various blogs. I didn’t… yet. There’s stuff percolating, but nothing has been anything like put on paper. Not that it wasn’t a great (not to say epic) trip, cause it was. It was just hard to put into a simple statement. (Unless you’re this guy and can forge a week of mis-matched fishing mayhem into something akin to poetry.)
Anyways, back to Eric. He was a cool dude to fish with. Old school. A throwback to that old-world salt who not only knew his shit, but expected you to as well. And, when you (inevitably) screwed up he would tell you, not out of cruelty or spite, but out of an honest place of constructive criticism. I liked him. I also caught a big-ass Peacock Bass with him within like an hour of meeting the guy, so I might have been biased from the outset. Nevertheless, I truly enjoyed his enthusiasm and personality throughout our stay in Islmorada. I mean, not too many other anglers would be willing to drop everything, pickup a couple complete strangers from Miami International and then drive several hours and guide them for a couple days, for free! Who does that?
I’m glad to see Eric doing well and supporting local talent the way he does. The man works hard and has way of keeping in the background that seems neither braggadocios or falsely modest. It’s just who he is.
So, this is an official shout out, from one old-school salt to another.
Tight lines, brother.
WindKnot the Elder
Rod Hamilton over at DIYbonefishing.com is giving away tons of stuff, including a FREE bonefishing trip to Long Island, Bahamas. There are also weekly prizes like fly rods, etc. All good stuff!
Rod is the author of Do It Yourself Bonefishing, the latest must have book for DIY anglers interested in connecting to the grey ghost of the flats, both on their own and guided. Along with Kirk Deeter, Rod has put together a great volume full of practical angling advice and a fairly comprehensive list of places to fishing. The best part is Rod has considered both the adventurous, hard-core angler and those who have to consider fitting in a few days of fishing on a family trip. I highly endorse it (and not just because I just received my autographed copy a few days ago).
My good buddy 345onthefly posts these vids occasionally to chronicle his ongoing pursuit of the the flats species around the Cayman Islands. Yours Truly makes a guest appearance channeling some kind of skinny island version of The Anchorman.
MinuteEarth presents a compelling case for letting big fish get away.
Interestingly, and worryingly, the Cayman Islands have no law preventing “harvesting” of fish above a certain size. We do have a law banning the taking of non-baitfish below 8 inches (or maybe 9 inches), which seems to make sense.
However, this highlights another one of those areas where common sense breaks down. Of course it makes sense to protect babies and juveniles, right? Right? Wait. Are there more adults or juveniles? Which can we more afford to lose? Which is actually more important to the survival of the species?
Perhaps there is a little be of anthropomorphization going on here. Our children are sacred to us—they’re about the only thing that is anymore—so we assume all young should be sacred.
Thing is, we only make a few young over our lifetime. About the only human who has come close competing with fish in terms of offspring is possibly Genghis Khan, who might be the ancestor of roughly 8% of all Asian males (and presumably quite a few females too). On the other hand the average 1st World citizen only has 2.06 kids. An adult barracuda, to pick a fish at random, can lay up to 300,000 in a single season. Three-hundred thousand. In a year. From one fish. Correction, from one adult fish. A young female only lays about 5,000 eggs. That’s 60 times less. It’s the difference between having your 2.06 kids and having 123 of them running around the house.
It turns out that, counter-intuitively, the adults of some animal species are the most valuable members of the population. Weird I know, but look at it this way, if you have a minimum size restriction on taking fish and those fish reach adult-hood just in time to breed once or twice before we pop them into a dinner pot, you’d need 30-60 of them to equal what one full-grown adult can reproduce. That’s so crazily different that it’s hard to get our heads around the sheer numbers involved.
Actually, different is exactly the word, because animals (especially fish) are in fact very different from us. It’s the old Disney™ problem again. We want attribute our values and biases to the world around us. Of course we pin our hopes to the young of our species. That’s a classically optimistic human perspective. But the natural world is one of wondrous variety, and not all animals do it like we do.
It turns out that people are bad at much of this common sense stuff. For example, every reasonable adult and parent will tell their child they need an education in order to make a good living. At the same time statistics show that only 20% of college graduates end up with a career in their field of study. However, I hasten to add that they still make a living, still end up with careers. It’s just that while a university education provided something vital for their career, it wasn’t what they or their parents thought it would be. These are the numbers, the statistics, yet year after year parents and freshmen still make the same erroneous assumption about what they’re spending all that money for.
Or take the example of the example of happiness. Who do you think is happier, a recent paraplegic or a recent lottery winner? That’s right: someone who has no use of their limbs and someone who just got given a pile of money. Who is happier. Take your time. After all, it’s just common sense. Right?
Right. Unless you’ve already seen the video (or are a genius), you guessed wrong. After a year they are both equally happy.
This is why actual science with real data is so vital. Without meaningful numbers we would be left at the mercy of our notoriously useless common sense. It is also why our legislation needs to be driven not purely by the whims of the voting public or by the (already suspect) common sense of our politicians, but by actual research and data.
So, to the Cayman Islands Department of Environment, the data is in. Repeal the current (pointless) law and establish a new one that protects the mature, breeding adults of our marine species, for these are truly the future of our waters.
Dewar’s uses Bukowski’s So You Want to Be a Writer? in an ad. Atlhough it’s clearly shameless capitalism (the cheapness of which is preached against all through the poem), I don’t think we can seriously fault their appropriation in this case, especially being familiar with Bukowski’s personal history with adult beverages. If nothing else the video below will expose more people to a great piece of writing. Full poem enclosed below. Enjoy.
So You Want to Be a Writer?
by Charles Bukowski
if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.
if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.
don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.
when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.
there is no other way.
and there never was.
Jamie Howard (of Howard Films?) posted this delectable permit treat compiled from footage shot during the Palometa Club Permit tournament in May of 3013. Wish I’d been there for that. There’s just something about permit that gets under your skin and stays there.