Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Fever

Strange how, despite the passage of time and the accumulation of experience, a seasonal fever strikes with the same pulse quickening and mind captivating intensity.  I know this feeling.  It always happens at the beginning of the season, after a long winter and the imagination has run cold.  It starts like a dry throat looking for water, as tackle fliers start to arrive in the mail.  It starts when you have watched the same episode of Larry Dahlberg's "The Hunt for Big Fish" again and again, and though you can't stomach to hit the delete on the DVR, you still feel...unsatisfied.  You find yourself poring over old tackle, sharpening old hooks, looking at the fly inventory, checking reels, reviewing tides and moon phases for the upcoming season in your mind. You check the same listservs again for recent information and fishing reports.  Such an irresponsible use of time.  There is guilt associated with this fever.  It lingers after you have clicked the "Buy" button on a particular plug you have been meaning to try out.  You reason that even if you never use it you can always save it and covet it in the future, perhaps even sell it, like the "Hab's Squid Popper" still in its original wrapper, its plugmaker notoriously meticulous and respected and now dead, the plug beginning to accrue appreciated value.  You have the reverse Atom, in cider color, still in its package, acquired for a song from the Army Navy store in downtown Portland, Maine.  That store in Monument Square is now closed.  The plug remains.  You even have an image of that plug being cast by spinning rod off a small skiff when you were in 7th grade, its bottle shape lolling on the surface, slowly filing with water, driving huge bluefish crazy.  You wish you had saved the big jointed Pikie that you ran behind an umbrella rig, a plug that was brutalized and ultimately sacrificed in the teeth laden maw of those gator blues.  When you lived in Maine, you used an old ceiling beam in the basement, above your tying bench, to hold retired lures and flies.  They earned their place on that beam, bite by bite, and bit and bit.  So when you look at those plugs and flies, a fish, a snapshot, a moment would be resurrected from the past, the ocean smell, the burn of salt in a finger cut by the line, the sunrising to reveal slashing fish and frenzied bait.  The fever is not stemmed by being fed, it only grows more ravenous.

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