I’ve never tried fly fishing, and I haven’t fished at all since I was a kid. But working these past couple weeks on our show “Fishing with Mystery” brought back a visceral memory of that unmistakable tug on my line. Though I haven’t experienced it in almost 20 years, I’ll never forget what it’s like to go from reeling in an inanimate object to feeling that sudden connection to a living creature beneath the water’s surface.

It’s no wonder people often use fishing as a metaphor to describe the creative process. While working on this show, I was trying to come up with literary references to fishing. Luckily, the availability of searchable online texts makes this kind of literary fishing a lot easier. I cast my line into the pond of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, searched on the word “fish,” and came up with a whopper.

The abridged passage below became a part of the show, and I think it perfectly captures one of the ideas James Prosek explores in his work. Namely, that nature can help take us away from reality, and into our dreams, but that it simultaneously pulls us back to the immediate reality that’s always there if we pay attention.

Sometimes, after staying in a village parlor till the family had all retired, I have returned to the woods, and, partly with a view to the next day’s dinner, spent the hours of midnight fishing from a boat by moonlight…communicating by a long flaxen line with mysterious nocturnal fishes which had their dwelling forty feet below….It was very queer, especially in dark nights, when your thoughts had wandered to vast and cosmogonal themes in other spheres, to feel this faint jerk, which came to interrupt your dreams and link you to Nature again. It seemed as if I might next cast my line upward into the air, as well as downward into this element, which was scarcely more dense. Thus I caught two fishes as it were with one hook.


Share Your Reflection

12Reflections

Reflections

Just listened to the podcast and found that your website has not been updated...looking forward to the slide show and unedited interview. Fridays are not complete for me until I get my total SOF fix!

Yes, we wanted to get the show out as soon as possible before the holiday weekend, though we're still finishing up the web elements. Glad to hear you enjoyed the show!

SOF: All my life I have been a fisherman. But now at 57 years of age, I have come to realize the stuggle and desire for life all living things share. Like Sir Paul (below) I have come to question the ethics of the sport I've enjoyed my whole life. As I tried to introduce and infuse fishing into the lives of my two sons, they questioned how I could mix a rather bloody sport with such personal pleasure. It's a good question. Possibly a subject for an SOF edition. Did Emerson or Thoreau ever ponder the misery of the fish in exchange for the pleasure of the fisherman?

LONDON (Reuters Life! March 17, 2008) - Former Beatle Paul McCartney says he turned vegetarian on a fishing trip when he realized that the fish's life was "as important to him as mine is to me."
McCartney, 65, posed for a photograph for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organization accompanied by the words: "I am Paul McCartney and I am a vegetarian."
It also features the quote: "Many years ago, I was fishing, and as I was reeling in the poor fish, I realized, 'I am killing him -- all for the passing pleasure it brings me.'
"And something inside me clicked. I realized as I watched him fight for breath, that his life was as important to him as mine is to me."

If you are:
58 – 70 years old and at peace with God
Praying for a female hel;p - mate of the same age or younger (being sexual, and money is optional)
Loves all kinds of children (impaired)
Loves animals, except cats
A fisherman, handyman, a gardener, and a cook
A n ocean/ecology or the Green Earth-enthusiast
Wanting to live in the North of California (i.e., Trinidad, Humboldt counties)
Reading historical non-fictions
An emotional learner

My “Seed” is on the ground.
If you are any of these, even 8 out of 10 =
Then, water my “Seed”
nachammoon@yahoo.com
Monday, September 01, 2008

When I was a boy, I fished fresh water lakes and streams, and Chesapeake Bay, on family trips. The objective was always to nab and prepare fresh for eating whatever was biting. Later I wanted to pass on my modest wisdom to my 5-year-old daughter. We rowed away from pier at first light in a rowboat on a northern Vermont lake, heading for open water. After an hour of dropping baited hook with no results, she looked at me and said, "Daddy, the fish are over by those reeds." With nothing to lose, I rowed about 30 yard to where she had pointed, and to my delight we began reeling in bream. When we had enough to make dinner, we thanked the lake, the fish, and God.
Last month, fishing at the edge of a man-made pond as part of a catch-and-release recreational program with a group of other Vietnam war veterans, I quickly grew queasy at the damage the hooks were doing in this "harmless" entertainment, and stopped baiting. It seemed every bit as relaxing and meditative to simply sit there.
It seems there is some profound, unwritten "covenant" we have with other life forms. I can feel the breaching, the mindless tearing of this covenant exclusively by too many members of our species. We can feel, if we pay attention, the price we are paying, personally and collectively.

Lord, give me your grace, today in the name of Jesus as I've released what my heart desires -- in heaven, and in earth. As, your WORD said, "As the rain cometh down to he mountain, so will your WORD, be.... it reaches my Seed, and it will force production!

If you are:
58 – 70 years old and at peace with God
Praying for a female hel;p - mate of the same age or younger (being sexual, and money is optional)
Loves all kinds of children (impaired)
Loves animals, except cats
A fisherman, handyman, a gardener, and a cook
A n ocean/ecology or the Green Earth-enthusiast
Wanting to live in the North of California (i.e., Trinidad, Humboldt counties)
Reading historical non-fictions
An emotional learner

My “Seed” is on the ground.
If you are any of these, even 8 out of 10 =
Then, water my “Seed”
nachammoon@yahoo.com
Monday, September 01, 2008

I lived in New Zealand for 7.5 years in the late 1980's. I learned about taniwha. A taniwha is always associated with water places as the unknowable and possibly terrifying guardian of these water places. They were NEVER described as eels. So I found this show somewhat upsetting at statements that seemed to equate taniwha and eels. Maori and pakeha (non-maori) eat eels in NZ happily. I doubt that Maori would eat a taniwha under any conditions - especially since you cannot "catch" one. The incident of the traffic problem seemed to be interpreted incorrectly. I do not doubt that Maori refused to work on the project after the "great eel" was found. I would interpret the eel to be a messenger, sign, omen of the taniwha that the sacred was being violated. The construction was tabu. That is why the Maori would not work on the construction. Is was not because the eel is any more (or less) sacred than any other animal that is eaten by Maori.

When Krista and James Prosek discussed the tackle box and his ritual of making an inventory of the flies in it, I was reminded of a quote mentioned on a SOF program a couple of years ago . Absolute unmixed attention is prayer.

That had to have been Roberta Bondi. I'm going to have to check that out. Thanks for the reminder Betsey.

I truly empathize with Dea Gayther & Sir Paul, but remain ambivalent about angling. As Prosek and many other painters know, both fishing and painting have several things in common, including the desire for spiritual integration with nature. Trout are predators, and, given the opportunity, will devour their own kind's eggs and young. And yet, I recently caught a cutthroat trout so transcendently beautiful that, despite planning to have fresh fish for dinner, I simply could not kill it.

I truly empathize with Dea Gayther and Sir Paul, but remain ambivalent about angling. As Prosek and many other painters know, both fishing and painting share many things in common, including a desire for spiritual integration with nature. Trout are predators, and, given the opportunity, will devour their own species' eggs and young. And yet, I recently caught a cutthroat trout so trancendently beautiful that, despite counting on having fresh fish for dinner, I simply could not kill it.

Certain species of fish maintain elevated body temperatures. Endothermic teleosts (bony fish) are all in the suborder Scombroidei and include the billfishes, tunas, and one species of "primitive" mackerel (Gasterochisma melampus). All sharks in the family Lamnidae
– shortfin mako, long fin mako, white, porbeagle, and salmon shark –
are endothermic, and evidence suggests the trait exists in family Alopiidae (thresher sharks). The degree of endothermy varies from the billfish, which warm only their eyes and brain, to bluefin tuna and porbeagle sharks who maintain body temperatures elevated in excess of 20 °C above ambient water temperatures. See also gigantothermy.
Endothermy, though metabolically costly, is thought to provide
advantages such as increased muscle strength, higher rates of central nervous system processing, and higher rates of digestion.

apples