In Pursuit of the Grayling

When I catch her, I won’t eat her.  I will hug her and kiss her and sleep with her for 3 days before I finally mount her.

When I look back on all my accomplishments in life, fishing has to be there near the top of the list.  I have had this natural love for fishing ever since I was a little boy.  I remember getting up at 4AM when I went on fishing trips with my father and his friends.  There were times when we paddled on a canoe for over an hour to get to the fish and there were times when we just headed to the local river.  No matter, it was always fun just the same.  It seems that my father and I have this affinity with fish akin to the affinity Native Americans must have had with the buffalo.  Yes, in essence we hunt them, catch them and eat them.  Yet my father and I always felt it is not an adversarial relationship but instead a process of communing with a worthy opponent, a kindred spirit.  So fish of any kind be it a small sunfish or a 100 pound tuna, always commanded our utmost respect.

I believe it is this respect that has rewarded us, my father and me, with unforgettable fishing experiences.  Whether it is pier fishing at the SFO muni, Naples, FL, Corpus Christi, TX, on a party boat or on a private yacht off the Florida Keys, our catches always exceeded our expectation.  Oh sure there was one time when we came home with nothing but my father subscribed to the fishing adage, "a bad day at fishing is still better than a good day at work".  My father was a “compleat angler”, always ready with his light fishing rod and tackle box.  Wherever we went my father asked if a fishing hole just might be near our destination.  We caught fresh water fish such as sunnies, perch, crappies, trout, pikes, muskies, small mouth and large mouth bass, carps, catfish, etc etc.  And salt water fish such as lingcod, rockfish, flounder, tautog, porgy, sheepshead, albacore, bonefish, bluefish, striper, jewfish, mackerel, grouper, sea bass, shark, and many many more.  We caught anadromous fish such as shad, salmon, and sturgeon.  We caught them with heavy, medium and light tackle.  We caught them fly fishing, spinning, bait casting and jigging.  I even tried spear fishing in Yelapa near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

In the near future, I am hoping for the opportunity to experience other types of fishing such as ukai or cormorant fishing on the Nagara River in Japan.  Ukai is a traditional method of catching fish by using cormorant birds on leashes to catch fish.  Another fishing method I find interesting, though I’m not sure I want to try it is called “noodling”.  In noodling, the fisherman uses his bare hands to catch giant catfish.  This type of fishing is practiced mostly in southern United States.  The noodler locates a catfish nesting hole and then pokes his strong hand inside offering it as bait.  When the catfish bites, the noodler grabs its mouth and pulls the catfish out of its nest.  Catfish have no teeth so the danger in noodling is not from the catfish itself but from accidental drowning and from encountering more dangerous animals such as snakes, turtles, beavers and even alligators that can bite off the noodler’s fingers.

When it comes to eating my catch, I prefer saltwater fish to the fresh water variety, although for me the anadromous ones taste the best.  Needless to say, I do not waste my catch.  I eat it, give it away or sell it as in the case with my tuna catch several years ago.  I never understood the "catch and release" fishing practice of many American sports fishermen.  To me, if it is legal, a keeper, I'll keep it. To me, releasing my catch is like having sex sans an orgasm.

But before my final retirement to that big fishing hole in the sky, my dream is to catch a "grayling".  I have read somewhere that this rare fish with a beautiful sail like dorsal fin does not smell fishy at all.  Some accounts I have read describe it as possessing a flowery or herbal smell.  I have gone to Montana and Wyoming where, according to statistics they used to be plentiful, but they don't seem to be there anymore.  One of these days I'm going up there to northern Canada, by helicopter if necessary, to one of those pristine, clear and cold lakes where grayling are known to reside and catch me one of those graylings and make my dream a reality.

When I catch her, I won’t eat her.  I will hug her and kiss her and sleep with her for 3 days before I finally mount her. I figure the taxidermist would probably charge me $350.