In a college course on pre-Socratic philosophy, a teacher summed up one of the teachings of Heraclitus by saying: “Through suffering comes beauty.” Tonight, as I saw the first stripers of my year landed around me, that certainly was the case.
The night began promisingly: a good tide, aligning with the end of the work day, and light drizzles throughout the day — conditions which, according to one, had yielded fish in the past at this spot. At lunch, the same friend had walked to the Charles River waterfront and cast a line. The stripers that followed his fly to the shore were all the proof we needed to end speculation: Fish were going to be caught this night.
But then it all seemed to fall apart. In the time it took me to walk from my office at Downtown Crossing to Beacon Hill, I got soaked. My khakis were damp dishcloths and my rain jacket a wet sheet of nylon by the time I got to my friend’s stoop. Lighting and thunder was shaking the sky. And still the rain came, in torrents. It was so heavy one suggested we cast a line into the street; it was, by my estimate, deeper than a flat on which I had hooked a bonefish, and deeper still than some shallows that I’ve seen hold trout.
Sitting on his stoop, beer in hand, it seemed like that would be our fishing — more of the kind we had done all winter: banter fishing, in jokes to delay the gratification of finally feeling a pull. As my guide the weekend before in Boca Grande had said, “the tug is the drug,” and I hadn’t felt the tug of a fish in months. I was on hard times, and the rain wasn’t helping.
But after only a short drive we cleared the bad weather and found clear skies and calm air over an incoming tide. The water was clear, and the temperature good. It was as though the weather had never marked this spot. I felt buoyed. Fish were going to be caught this night.
And so it was. The beautiful striper above was caught on the second cast. Another was landed. And yet another. For me, even though I went fishless, a night like this starts the unquestionable start to the season. And proof that a little suffering goes a long way to making the tug more pleasant, the beer colder, and the scenery more beautiful.
Here are some shots from the night. I’ll be sharing more throughout the season.