Unlike March Madness, which elicits endless online betting and flat screen watching, this is madness of a different type, fueled by a metaphoric sense of life's end. Every September, no matter where I live, I always get a quickening pulse at this time of year. Living now in Oregon, it is a bit separated from the source, the Atlantic Ocean and the world's greatest migration of living creatures- bunker, herring, rain bait, false albacore, bluefish, and striped bass- which mass along the coast and, sensing the shortening of days, begin to gather together and sweep in a gigantic movement southward before the ocean's great cooling. In Maine, the migration has begun. Bass leave the bays and inlets, the coves and rivers, and combine by age and size to form football shaped hydrodynamic clouds and begin moving. I have witnessed this in many forms and it is both exciting and sad. Exciting to think of the opportunity to witness feeding frenzies so necessary to fuel this movement. Sad, because we know what follows- months of cold and hollowness to test the spirit until the spring renewal.
And yet, I have a fondness for the Fall. I realize, now that I am pushing fifty, how limited our vision of these natural miracles really is. I see that we have a kindred spirit with the fish, who only respond to stimuli we otherwise can only guess at. When I say it is metaphoric of our own mortality, I mean it. Each year that passes brings us closer to a conclusion we have no control over writing. If I knew I could fish for another fifty years, perhaps the moment would lack something, a dimension of poignancy that gives it richness. As Orson Wells said, Death gives Life its succor.
And so for those on the edge of the Atlantic, I say get your ass out there and enjoy this moment. The best fishing of the year is upon you and you will need rich memories to get you through what follows. Now I have to start tying steelhead flies for the coming months. Ha.