“My home is the sea.” – Bonnie Prince Billie in Superwolf
One of the things I learned from my Pops at an early was the ability to fish. Back then, I had the luxury of bank fishing rivers and lakes, to going out on ocean near San Francisco on a boat. Rainbow trout, blue gill, smallmouth bass, rock cod, lingcod, and crappie all made their way into nets hoisted over bows and banks by my brother, Pops, and myself. One of the rare opportunities we were given was to hunt for the great King Salmon.
My early recollections of salmon fishing are vague. I do recall being in the 5th grade and going out on the Pacific with a few family members on a charter just off the Mendocino Coast. The ocean was a frothing mass of fury and angst that day. The sky was a dark grey and wind swept violently across the deck as we made our way out past the jetty. Once we cleared the few rocks of the inlet and out into the open ocean, we were confront with swells that seemed the size of a three story building. It looked like a mountain of water would surely engulf the entire craft and send us to our salty deaths. Instead, the vessel floated right over the top of that huge wave and down the otherside. It was harrowing and nauseating. All three of us kids got sick and starting hurling our breakfast over the stern. I have a feeling that this terrible act was good for business for shortly after we chummed the waters, we started getting hits. With the excitement of reeling in some monster salmon, we forgot all about the mountains of water that would send us to our doom, the stomach turning motion of a small ocean vessel climbing and descending these nautical staircases. We got lost in the heat of the moment, and it is one of the fondest memories of my early childhood. Some of it was even captured on VHS by my pops.
Fast forward about 20 years. This expedition has taken a new life for me and my family. Our friend with the boat sold his boat. We are all scattered through the state of California and do our best to get together. Since fishing is a tradition we all share, it’s a common theme when we do get together. Before I moved to my current city, I used to go out night fishing 2-3 times a week. It was a sort of meditation for me. Grab the frozen baby Shad, pack a cooler with some drinks, grab the fishing gear, some bug spray and a lantern. I’d post up on the inlet leading to the lake and chase the nighttime feeding Catfish. Often times I’d catch a sunfish or an overly aggressive bass, but it was the Cat’s I was after. I digress..
For the past few years, each salmon season, my brother springs for chartered fishing trip off the Mendocino coast as a birthday gift to my Pops and myself. I look forward to these trips. We were out recently, and although the bite is really popping off up in the Humboldt area, the bite is not so hot south of there. The deckhands said it’s been really intermittent and that they have not had a day where they got the limit. The day we went out was no exception. The ocean was calm and the sun was bright and strong. One guy in the corner of the boat, with line around 90 feet, bagged two monster salmon, somewhere between 25-30 lbs. each. Lucky bastard. I had one fish on, but whilst reeling it in, it collided with another fish that was being dragged in on the opposite side of the boat, it slackened the line, and came off the hook. As we were not using barbed hooks (it’s illegal to catch Silver salmon) without any tension in the line, I was S.O.L. Still the experience was good enough for me. As we approached the time to pull the lines and take off, you could see off in the distant horizon a wall off fog approaching. It looked so far away, like a distant mountainside. But boy, did that fog creep fast. Suddenly the sky was grey and no longer hot enough to persist without a jacket. The wind picked up and swells began to grow. Some people headed inside to sit in the cabin and wait out the cold prior to docking. I sat on the engine case facing the western vastness and watched. No longer am I the fearful lad shaking at the sight of a roaring ocean. I embraced the welcome of some turbulent waters, and chill of the fog, and the refreshing wind turning my face red.
It’s amazing how quickly conditions can change when one is out on the water. My Pops, being ex Navy, has some harrowing tales of his time on his carrier of giant waves sweeping over the bow of his Aircraft carrier. Amazing power in those currents and air streams combined with the gravity of the Moon, the Sun, and our molten core. In the blink of an eye, things can go from a peaceful sunny summer morning, to a raging cold hangover of a storm slamming against your ship. I find the chaotic nature of the ocean to be very attractive. It’s danger and life all in one. It can be your best friend or your death. One must always give respect to the great seas for not only do they hold uncertain endings, but they also hold our beginnings.
It is much like man in the same essence, that each man and woman has the ability within themselves to make drastic, and amazing changes right….fucking…. now. There is no excuse to wait, other than ones own procrastinating tendencies. I am so very guilty of this, being the father of many unfinished projects, both in the realm of the arts and personal health. As The Broadways said on their album “Broken Star” in the song We’ll Have a Party: “sometimes motivation sinks deep in these couch cushions, sometimes sleep is my best friend.” But like anything in this life, one must find their passion and motivation, seize it by the horns and run with the bull.
On an aside, the rhythmic beating of ocean waves against the shore is a soothing and to me, erotic sound. I enjoy the outdoors and without fail, when taking a young lass camping out next to the ocean, the fire behind the love making and romance is always extreme. I think because that sound awakens some deep down and primal inside a person. Or because the chaotic nature of the ocean is a reminder of our own mortality. I am not sure the reason, but I can vouch from experience that if your girl is down for some ocean camping, you are in for some good times.