|A while back, I think it was this winter, maybe last, whatever, I put this Samuel Beckett quote in my blog, the whole "Try again, fail again, fail better" one.
He had others, like:
“Ever tried. Ever failed. Not Matter.”
“Go on failing. Go on. Only next time, try to fail better.”
Nobody wants to fail at anything, and the quote was used in the context of fishing in the winter and just trying just to try and not expecting winter glory.
It has been a wonderful year for me on many levels. No need for a list, but it in a strictly fishing level it’s was a great run for inshore fishing, and my favorite target, big white seabass. Then in September something happened. Fishing got tough, at least for me. I tried different stuff, checkout the zones that had produced, fished deep, fished shallow, fished by myself, Cancelled trips — “you don’t want to come out right now, trust me,” to anyone who asked about fishing — and kept trying.
Eventually, I decided to get back to the backyard, putting the boat in the water and waiving in the direction of my wife, son and dog after coming out of Dana Point Harbor. Finally, last week the bad streak, the other streak, that came after the good streak from mid May to mid September ended.
All it took was to launch out of Dana Point. Or maybe the haha Reggie Jackson “Mr. October” blog? Or just finally having better conditions and a fresh influx of fish in the bight. Either way, a fifty plus never looked so good in the moonlight.
Beckett has another pretty applicable to fishing quote, that “Habit is a great deadener.”
It’s easy to do the same stuff, to fall into traps; the examples of are endless. Finding the boats, not the fish is one of them, but then again there are simply times when you have to fish in the crowd. Nobody likes it, but it just has to be done sometimes. The find “fish, hunt, find” thing sounds great and is way cool, but sometimes you just have to fish in a postage stamp area if you want to catch. I remember last real albacore fishing we had in 2004 proved that. Getting too fancy definitely cost me — and helped immensely a few times — this summer. Double edged sword, one that I’ll never learn to wield.
So when word came that Pacific Beach’s yellowtail were biting, like really biting, the next move sounded like going down to PB was the best move for a couple trips with friends in that of the father/son duo of John and Ben Frizzell and my best friend, Justin Ward, who wanted to catch his brother-in-law to be his first “real” saltwater fish.
The trip with the Frizzells got the last good day of the bite — we got tripled on the 18 to 35 pounders, landing two and then picking one off later in the morning. Watching 8-year-old Ben fish has been a real highlight of my season, and having a kid who listens and soaks up every word is really refreshing. I hope I get to see him grow as person and an angler. Here he is with the yellows he and dad scored.
If anyone but Justin had asked me to fish I would have said no, would have stayed home, maybe even slept. The crowd was too heavy, and one day was good down there. Yellowtail hit, check. But it was the first time Justin could get away from it all this season and get on my skiff, so I was all about it. Even if fishing sucked at least we could tell high school stories and just be teenagers again, not that we ever really grew up.
The bite pretty much fell flat on its face, there’s no way the 30 plus boats had more than 6 yellowtail combined. So getting a double and watching Justin get a yellowtail and his soon-to-be brother in law get his first yellow made the trip extra worth it.
I struck out a bunch, and in a sick way I kind of learned more about fishing locally by not catching than catching. It’s complicated. It’s more a story for the next book. Here's the thing: it's not about where. Where gets you a fish that day or a few days. It's about why and how. A "scary" local fisherman is one who can figure out why things are the way they are, and how to adjust. I'll probably never figure it out, but it gives me some sort of a challenge to my fishing. Casting out and hooking mindlessly hooking fish got old a long time ago. It's really complicated.
Lesson learned: the next time things get tough on the water, just type up a stupid little off-the-cuff blog about a famous sports figure, have Tom in production photo shop a mustache on me and set a goal, one that probably can't get accomplished, like catch a big local halibut. It's really, really complicated.
Oh, and just go fishing with friends, be it with the always-down-to-go man named "Fields" and no crowd for October seabass or just enough away from the thick of the heaviest of San Diego crowds to keep the sanity, for fun with buds new and old, young and not that old, and be reminded of why fishing is so much more to my life than “just fishing…”