A Reason To Fish
by Randy Kadish
The city workers never
stopped me from going onto the old, broken-down pier, though one had said, "There
aren't much fish here since we dredged last year."
I often sought comfort in
those words. They told me not to blame myself for catching only one striped bass after so
many months of trying.
So with little expectations,
I again walked towards the end of the seagull-inhabited pier. One by one the beautiful
birds spread their long, gray wings and soared away. I was sorry I had frightened them
from their home. I continued on.
On the other side of the
wide, fast-moving river, the fluttering American flag told me that the wind blew from the
north, but not strongly. Since strong winds were the only thing I didn't like about
fishing, I was thankful.
I again checked the sky. The
cloud cover started to leak sunlight. I wondered if I should go with a floating or sinking
I guessed sinking, knowing
that it probably wouldn't matter. I set up my nine-weight rod, tied on a White Deceiver,
then watched in awe as the seagulls gracefully glided down on the other end of the pier.
I was glad they had returned
and thought, if only I could get my fly to land as gently. I cast up river, about seventy
feet. Not bad, I thought. I stripped slowly, with pauses up to five seconds.
Suddenly, as if a light
switch was turned on, the sun illuminated the gold and raspberry-red leaves of trees on
the far bank.
Yes, I said to myself,
autumn is always the prettiest time to fish. But soon those trees will look like eerie,
mushroom-shaped spider webs. Soon it will be winter and too cold to fish. So why on this
mild day, I wondered, am I the only one here? Is it because, unlike most anglers, I really
don't care about catching fish? If so, is there something wrong with me?
A small motor boat
approached. A middle-aged couple was aboard. They held hands. I waved. They waved back and
smiled. "Any luck?" the man yelled out. I shook my head no, and thought of how I
never felt alone on the pier.
I again cast. My tight loop
cut through the breeze. My deceiver turned over and fluttered to the water. Eighty feet, I
proudly thought. Yes, maybe basking in the satisfaction of making a good cast is what
brought me to the pier. But is there something more?
I lowered my rod, pulled all
the slack out of my line and tried to repeat my beautiful cast. My back loop was tight.
When it finished unrolling, I slowly began my forward cast. Perfect, I thought. I
accelerated into my power snap. But I hauled late. My front loop opened into a wide
circle. My line and fly died short, and piled on the water. Disappointed, I quickly pulled
the slack out of my line. I resumed my regular retrieve, then realized, bad casts really
aren't so bad. Maybe a fish will still strike. Besides, my next cast will be better. Yes,
to make better.
How good it always feels,
and how easy to do when fishing. If only fixing my business had been that way, but by the
time I realized that the market had changed it was too late.
And wasn't it also too late
by the time mother realized that her cough might be a sign of something really serious? By
then the latest medical breakthroughs couldn't stop her cancer from eating away at her,
from leaving her a living, breathing skeleton, and leaving me feeling helpless, and
furious at a God who seemed so brutal, so cruel. Why did he cause so much pain and
I could never answer that
question; so after mother passed away I went fishing for the first time in years.
Surprisingly, the pain numbed; so the next day I went again, and then for the next few
years fishing was all I really cared about.
Finally, slowly, my other
interests--football, music, history--returned, but none rivaled fishing on the pier, even
if I had on the wrong fly. I stayed with the White Deceiver.
I caught my breath, then
reminded myself to break my wrist at the end of my back drift. It worked! My fly shot
almost ninety feet, then gently touched down on the surface. I smiled and looked out into
the middle of the river. A flock of seagulls circled. Their sharp chirps sounded amplified
by the peaceful beauty around me. I watched to see if they dived.
They didn't. Bait fish
probably weren't around; so neither were the striped bass.
I wasn't discouraged. So for
the next few hours, as the sky ripened into dusk pink, I cast again and again and
retrieved faster and faster, afraid that the sun would soon sink behind the trees and roll
up its flickering path that crossed the grayish water and seemed to stop at my pier.
Slow down, I thought. Don't
worry about the sun going down. It will be here tomorrow, and so will I. And don't worry
about winter. Before long it will retreat and the bare trees will again bloom with life,
and then maybe the stripers will return to the pier, but if they don't, will it really
No, because out here nothing
is broken, except fixable casts.
Randy Kadish, USA 2003 ©
Randy’s historical novel,
The Fly Caster Who Tried To Make
Peace With The World, is available on