Volume 16, Issue 39 - September 25 - October 1, 2008

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The Arc of the Pendulum

My luck has swung the wrong way

I have been leading a charmed existence for some time. Big rockfish have almost worn out my landing net. They have crowded my cooler and graced my table so often I have begun to take them for granted.

The countless lesser fish I have boated were sent on their way with a sound education and an order to send back their bigger brothers. Many complied with that request.

All that I needed to guarantee good weather was to select a day to go fishing; on that date, the wind would abate. Any lure I chose would become instantly successful. The cove I picked to prowl would be crowded with striped rascals, all eager to eat. I was truly blessed.

I began to consider myself an excellent, if not brilliant, angler.

Overnight it all changed.

The Other Side of the Swing

I went cold. To emphasize the point, my oft-time angling partner Mike got red-hot lucky. So hot he could often predict which of his casts would catch a fish.

For an angler with suddenly soured fortunes, another’s success can be irritating. I considered ruses to leave him stranded on distant and inaccessible shorelines. The plots would have worked, too, if Mike hadn’t been alert to what a desperate and devious person I was becoming.

I began to fish alone. But invariably, a mean wind would arise to send me scuttling for home through uncomfortable seas.

Fish Are Biting

Bluefish and Spanish mackerel continue to swarm the Eastern Shore from Love Point to Bloody Point. They sometimes make a showing on the Western Shore, but not as consistently. Rockfish can be found mixed in the melees, usually deeper in the feeding columns. Lots of big spot have been reported at Hacketts, and the channel from Baltimore Point Light to the Sandy Point Light has been holding nice sized stripers. The fall bonanza is upon us. It won’t last forever; better get some now.

When lures that bore the scars of countless battles went fishless, I washed them all in case they had picked up some trace of scent unpleasant to stripers. It was of no avail. I tried new and more elaborately painted models. They went unnoticed on the water.

Forlorn, I persevered, believing that relentlessness would win the day. My poor luck only intensified.

I examined my recent life for some source of this karma. But I could think of neither bad acts nor wronged people.

Then I considered how luck is often parceled out. It seems to come in periods of singular rushes. Perhaps I’d just used all of my current allotment. But for how long? Would my dry spell last the rest of the month? The rest of the fall? The considerations were horrifying.


Lately I’ve taken to drinking my morning coffee only from my lucky cup, the one I drank from the day I got the 30-incher on a top-water plug. My lucky blue hat now hangs on the edge of the rod rack, just as it hung that morning a few weeks ago when I got the six big fish, one after another.

My lucky shirts — there are three of them that always go with great days — I have taken to washing as soon as they are soiled so I can immediately wear them again. One has fallen apart from the attention.

My lures have been polished and rearranged. I have acquired at least two of every color, just in case. I can barely carry the tackle bag.

Of course my panic is ridiculous. Periods of bad luck happen to every fisherman. Those who deny it are either delusional or liars — or both.

The big pendulum in this angler’s sky will eventually reach the end of its unfortunate arc and swing back. I know that. I believe that. Until it finally reverses, I am biding my time in meditation and acceptance.

I practice kindness to all children, cats and dogs. I make my evening prayers regular and imploring. I am cultivating quiet patience — even as Mike continues to catch fish.

I have become so serene that my family is suspicious. But I’m not up to anything. I’m just calmly and patiently waiting for the pendulum to begin its swing in the other direction, the good direction. If it pleases the fish gods, I hope they make it soon!

© COPYRIGHT 2008 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.