Dave Micus, Plum Island Sound

May 31st, 2004

By Dave Micus

What is most emphatic in angling is made so
by the long silences-the unproductive periods.
Thomas McGuane


As I was fishing from shore, a small, tow-headed boy, about five, fishing with his father and straight from a Norman Rockwell illustration, shuffled up. He was silent for a good 45 seconds, just staring at my waders. Finally he asked excitedly, "Hey mister, where did you get those fancy pants?"

I was fishing the fished-out Ipswich River in the fall. It was early, and a slight, cold drizzle trickled from the slate gray sky. While nymphing upstream, I heard a large splash behind me. I turned and saw a doe and three fawns that had come down to the river. They stood attentively still, then, as if by mutual consent, decided I wasn't a threat and continued to frolic. I forgot about fishing and just watched a mother playing with her young children.

At a breakfast following an all-night fishing tournament, an old salt explained how to learn to cast in the dark. "Drink a martini, then go and cast for a while. Then have another martini, and cast some more. Then have another martini, and keep casting. That's how you learn to cast at night."

"Hey," another fisherman at our table observed, "that's the same way I learned about sex."

A young man approached me while I was practicing my casting in a park. We talked for a bit, and I learned he was a fly fisher from Montana, in Boston for college, and hadn't thought to bring his gear.

"Do you want to cast?" I asked, offering him the rod. He eagerly took me up on my offer and began casting, tentative at first, but soon lapsed into his own rhythm, throwing beautiful tight loops fifty feet out into the grass. After a wordless ten minutes, he handed the rod back to me.

"Thanks," he said solemnly. "That felt great!" and went on his way.

My wife stopped at a bookstore to buy me a present. "Do you have the new book by John Gierach?" she asked the clerk.

"It just came in," the clerk replied, "let me get it for you." She disappeared into the back room and returned with a book by Newt Gingrich and handed it to my wife.

"My husband would divorce me if I bought him this book," she told the clerk without exaggeration.

While riding to work on a nice summer morning, it suddenly dawned on me that I had all of my fishing gear in the trunk. I immediately turned around and headed to Crane's Beach to fish for stripers. While I was suiting up, an elderly gentleman approached, and, noticing my slacks, collared shirt and tie, said, "I hope you don't mind my saying this, but you're dressed awfully nice for a fisherman."

"I'm playing hooky from work," I confided.

His face brightened. "Good for you!" he exclaimed.

I arrived at work early and logged on to the Ken Abrames fly fishing site, "Striper Moon." A female co-worker stopped in my office and glanced at the screen.

"WHAT are you looking AT??!!" she demanded.

"Striper Moon," I replied. "It's a fly fishing site."

"Oh," she said, calming down. "I thought it said Stripper Mom."

We were fishing Crane's Beach on a productive September Sunday, when one of our group had to leave.

"Where are you going?" Mike, a legendary striper bum, asked.

"Church," was the reply.

"Church??!!" Mike asked, incredulously. He spread his arms, taking in the beach, the ocean, the feeding fish. "This is Church!"

Early in my striper fishing career, I was invited to fish with someone who by all accounts is one of the best fishermen on the North Shore of Massachusetts. When I went to work my co-workers, most of whom were female, couldn't help but note my excitement.

"What are you so happy about?" they asked.

"I've been asked to fish with one of the best fishermen in Massachusetts," I gushed. They looked at me blankly. "This is like being invited to the prom by the captain of the football team," I analogized. "Oh," they related.

For some reason the fisherman and I failed to connect.

"How was your fishing date?" the girls asked the next day at work.

"He didn't show," I said glumly.

"Men can be so cruel," one commiserated.

I decided to explore a small feeder creek that was so overgrown I was sure that the large fish in there were safe from all but the stealthiest predators (like myself). The stream was perfect, not more than five feet wide, but cold and deep. The only problem was the over brush was such that I could barely walk down the middle of it, no less manage any kind of a cast. Still I moved on, I came to a small, old stone arched bridge that, though I've lived near here for 12 years, never before had noticed. I paused beneath the bridge, grateful for the respite from the overhanging brambles.

The curvature of the bridge, along with the water flowing over the rocks beneath made the most unusual sound; discordant but musical, a cacophony. I listened, knowing that I'd heard this sound before. And then it struck me--it sounded exactly like a symphony warming up. ~ Dave

About Dave:

Dave Micus lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts. He is an avid striped bass fly fisherman, writer and instructor. He writes a fly fishing column for the Port City Planet newspaper of Newburyport, MA (home of Plum Island and Joppa Flats) and teaches a fly fishing course at Boston University.

Previous Dave Micus Columns

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