Summer's a hard time to work. The sun shines through office windows, bringing winter's tolerable boredom to an unbearable rolling boil. Fortunately, I got fired from my job. We'll leave reasons and rationales to someone more lawyerly than I am for now, and accept the beautiful, wonderful truth that goes along with any good summer firing: now I have more time to go fishing.
Tonight, like any other night, I'm thinking about fishing again. I just ate a herring and a mackerel; two ocean fishies far from being endangered.
The scene is as such: there's a bridge that goes over an inlet southeast of Halifax, overlooking what for the most part is an untouched stretch of pine and bog wilderness. Think some rocks in there, too, if you're trying to imagine right now. And through this vast wilderness goes a long salty watercourse that rises and falls with the tides. The tides push seaweed, styrofoam, beer bottles and other junk under the bridge and out the other side, then takes them back out again in six hours or so. And the current under the bridge is strong in one direction as it fills, and strong in the other direction as it empties. For a scarce few minutes, the water is dead still at high and low tide. High tide, you cast and catch fish. Low tide, you cast and catch the bottom. Then you lose your hook. Then you swear.
As the tide comes in, the water gets clearer and saltier. Sometimes, fish follow the tide. As it goes out, the water gets murkier, and fresh water from waaay back out of sight, trickling from creeks and swamps, prevails.
There's a quiet peacefulness to this spot. Herons stand around looking at fish. Cormorants stand around looking like a pile of castoff bird parts painted black. Pigeons poop endlessly from their perches under the bridge. Sometimes, that kingfisher flies by to divebomb you or screech about how close he thinks you are to his nest. Little fish doodle around in the shallow water near the giant white granite boulders you can stand on and cast out from.
I don't remember what made me pick this spot, or why I found it. I know that when I first started fishing, about a year after I moved to Halifax, I never caught anything here. Pollock, which there are millions of, ignored whatever I put in the water. I didn't know about mackerel then, and herring? Well, who knows about them now. I've caught two since I started fishing. One was hooked right near its butt, and the one I caught today was hooked through the side of its face, nowhere near its mouth. They don't eat hooks. They filter-feed. But they also travel in huge schools, and get caught by mistake.
Anyway, the spot. I don't take many people to it. There are those who know about it, and those who ask to come with me, and generally, I'll take whoever happens to be ready at the exact second I decide to go fishing. Some people wreck fishing rods immediately, tangling everything around the reel in a giant ball, or casting so hard that the hook breaks off the line. Some people cast clean and natural with minimal instruction.
A friend told me "I like going fishing with you. Fishing with you is fun! I wouldn't want to go by myself and find out that I liked it without you there." It was a sweet thing to say.
But a lot of the time, I go by myself. In the evening, before the bugs go insane, you can cast out time after time, catch or not catch, and decompress. It's always been there like that for me. I've swam here, too, when the current isn't too strong, and canoed all up through the channels and coves the inlet has, sunburning and moongazing as the minutes turned to hours, and days turned to nights.