Fishing With Face

March 11th, 2013 at 3:23:48 PM permalink
Face
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Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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Quote: odiousgambit
I expected to hear what prompted the quitting ... is there more to come?


Hehe, no. The quitting was somewhat unrelated to the post. I guess it was a big time in my life and thinking of one always reminds me of the other.

But since you expected to hear, I’ll not leave you wanting ;)

The short story is that things just finally came together. The long story is, well… long.

As I’ve commented both in this thread as well as in random places on WoV, I was an addict for a long time. I started drinking around 17 in my senior year of high school, which was in ’98. I started smoking weed just before my 18th b-day in college, and it was something I really got a kick out of. It was eye opening, it was mind opening, and I quickly became an all-day-every-day smoker. It wasn’t so much the high that I liked, the “feel-good”, so to speak, it was the shift in mental processes that I really got off on.

It wasn’t long before I got into mushrooms, and being all about the mental, I was blown away. Fortunately, ‘shrooms are hard to come by so I didn’t get too out of control. Unfortunately, LSD costs pennies, was way more bonkers than ‘shrooms, and it was everywhere. Within 9 months or so, I was doing it once or twice a week, sometimes even by myself. I never went certifiably crazy; never thought I could climb a tree to the moon or that I was a glass of OJ that people were trying to spill (an even longer story), but it was a little much. Luckily, George Carlin’s observations proved true – hallucinogens are self regulating. They’ll blow your mind, and then suddenly, they won’t. When they didn’t, I just stopped and haven’t touched them since. That was back around ’02.

There was some ecstasy peppered in what I refer to as “my trippy phase”, but that stuff scared me. Not enough to keep me from doing it 30 or so times, but it was just too risky. And it made you feel wayyy too good, almost beyond the capability of human emotion. After getting a taste of a rough batch that left me with a month long headache, I likewise quit that at a drop of a hat and haven’t looked back. That was around the same time, ’02 or ’03.

Kind of randomly, I found myself in the middle of a giant coke operation some years later, maybe ’05 – ‘06. It was one of those “friend of a friend’s girlfriend’s brothers from the city” type deals, and these guys were big time. Ever see the movie “Blow”? Well, they weren’t as big, but the product was that good and we were getting it at wholesale prices, like $20 a gram (retail back then for our area was like $120 a gram for cut garbage). Coke and me were a bad mix. My normally mellow exterior camouflages that other side of me, the one that likes to smash people in football and hockey, launch my wheeler 50 feet, rip down the highway at 170mph… the intense side, the adrenaline junky side. I found my reaction to coke to be indistinguishable from an adrenaline high, and that was bad news. I did massive amounts of the stuff that summer, often the majority of the week. Even at work, I’d toot up in the bathroom and then go on a tear of cleaning or reorganization, and everyone thought I was the model employee. Nope, just all tweak up on blow, but thanks for the compliment =p After the summer, the coke barons moved back to the city and supply dried up. Prices rose 6 fold overnight for stuff that wasn’t 10% as good, so again, I just quit. Every single one of the binges I had been on over all the years, and every one I quit just like that with no issues.

But I never could quit weed. Other than meth, which I found even the thought of it to be disgusting, I had done just about every drug you could think of, including the “hyper addictive” cocaine and opiate varieties, and every one I quit with the snap of a finger. But non-addictive weed had me by the balls. The one time during that 11 years when I was forced to quit due to a failed employment drug test was the worst few months I’d ever had. I had the cold sweats, the shakes, terrible dreams, you’d think I was coming off methadone. But my post drug life was shaping up, and I couldn’t just float through life in a hazy cloud forever. I wasn’t a kid anymore, I had to grow up.

I kept working, of course. I started making work a priority, and stopped smoking all day. The more I worked, the better I did, and the better I did, the less I smoked. After about 18 months, I made it from gas pumper to general manager of a multi-million dollar truck stop, and had curtailed my smoking to a nip before bed, where I’d play Xbox, read a book, or work on my writing as a way to unwind. Sure, I might smoke all day on a weekend 4wheeler trip, but I had cut waaay back. Still, I couldn’t give it up completely.

Life went on that way for a few years. Then I got married. Then Jax came to be and was on his way. I knew I had to make some serious life changes. While I was a functioning addict, had no legal troubles, never got abusive, etc, I felt I’d be short changing my son by being an addict father. Also, my other hobbies and habits, such as doing mile long, 120mph wheelies and running from 5-0 when they’d spot me, was no longer “jeopardizing my life”, it was “jeopardizing Jax’s father”. I had to change.

I started searching for my roots. I often got on rants with EvenBob on WoV, talking about the good ol’ days, how much better they were, how they were gone, and how I missed them. So, I decided to go looking for them. My childhood was so incredibly fantastic; I wanted Jax to have a piece of that, too. So I started doing the stuff I did when I was a little kid – the woods walks, the crayfish hunting, hitting the ponds again, and searching for snakes and turtles – and although that part of me had been buried for over a decade, a little ember of it was still there. It felt weird at first, going from semi-junkie-slash-high-octane-adrenaline-freak back to a man of simple pleasures, but it did come. On the day I took a test run at a full day of sobriety, I picked up a fishing pole for the first time in over a decade. I fished for over 4 hours, and not only didn’t I once think about getting high, I hadn’t even smoked a single cigarette. That one day, floating in Wally’s pond with a pole in my hand; that was all it took.

I sold my bike, slowed riding the wheeler until I eventually sold that, too, and spent as much time as I could searching under rocks at the crick and dragging the canoe to the pond. I had found my new high. And unlike drugs, which hit you kind of powerful but “on the surface” (if that makes sense), this new high hit you easy but went deep. I suppose FrG would say it was “a spiritual thing”. It didn’t sit on the surface and seep in where it could, it started from within and filled me from the soul out. I’d still get high sometimes, but I didn’t have to. And sometimes I’d even bring my pipe with me, but couldn’t stop casting and reeling long enough to pack it up.

It broke the habit. After relying on weed for so long as entertainment, for relaxation, for mental stimulus, I didn’t know how else to live. I didn’t know how to be happy, how to sleep, how to give my mind something to do. Fishing was the first thing that gave my mind something to hold on to. Thinking of where I’d been, what I did, where I’d go next, and what I’d do when I got there, gave my brain something else to hold onto while I kicked the weed crutch out from under it. And with Jax ~6 months old and not far from beginning to form his own memories (and be able to remember the smell of weed if I kept burning), it was enough to get me to stick with it for good.

That fishing trip to Black Lake was the week I decided to quit. And I did have a few sleeping issues, but nothing near the sweats and shakes I experienced the first time. I just kept in the woods, kept in the cricks. And kept a fishing pole in my hands. I suppose I have just traded one addiction for another, but god damn, this addiction is just so much better. And I’ve got the pictures to prove it ;)

So there you have it, my very long story. I suppose it was kind of rambling and quite off topic, but I expect that by now you know that if you ask me a question, you’re not going to be left with many more after I reply ;) And I guess it was kind of about fishing, in a way. Speaking of which, it’s been like 60* here these last few days, and the thaw’s got the crick’s roaring. I can almost see the spring trout running up all the swollen waterways, and I’ve got some free time in 3 more days. Just long enough for the water to subside and make way for my new fly rods =D

I can’t wait to see what this year brings!
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
March 13th, 2013 at 11:28:17 AM permalink
odiousgambit
Member since: Oct 28, 2012
Threads: 70
Posts: 1485
whoa, some of that stuff was getting pretty serious. Glad to hear it's history.
Mustard:You like Kipling, Miss Scarlet? Sure, I'll eat anything [from movie]
March 15th, 2013 at 1:24:28 PM permalink
ewjones
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 6
Posts: 32
In SE Iowa we're known more for whitetail hunting more than fishing (at least in my mind). We don't really have the pristine scenery. Sure there's the Mississippi, but its more a body of water to be respected, not admired, with the rate it swallows up teenagers in the summer. The only fish that are really fun to catch are the channel cat, or flathead catfish. My first big catch, and still most memorable, was at "the spot" along the bank of a smaller, quiet channel. It's the dead of summer, sun low in the sky, the air soggy and bugs biting. I'm staring at the tip of my rod, just waiting for it to dip. Then it does. It's a monster, constantly fighting, and takes me over five minutes to reel in--a pretty long time by normal standards. It's a flathead, at least 18" and oh 7,8 lbs if I had to guess.

The whitetail hunting is equally boring, but much more satisfying. I think it was the third day of muzzleloader season before we see any deer. A couple young bucks locking antlers, but didn't seem to be a real fight, maybe brothers practicing for a real showdown. Never have a good shot. The next day, we're getting ready to leave, and just then three bucks, the biggest--a ten pointer--is in the lead, coming around the edge of the woods. My dad gets to all fours so I can use his back to aim. I'm nervous as hell, taking forever to take my shot, trying to line up, and he's staring back at me through the scope. Finally I take it, and they disappear through the smoke. My dad jumps up to see where they go.

Some time later we start the painstaking process of tracking. Just past dusk, and each of us holding a flashlight as we walk along the edge of the trees, my dad in front. Then I see it. The bright red flash on a leaf. Then another a few steps into the woods, then another and another. And there he is, lying under an evergreen. Managed to run 300 yards despite hitting him right through both lungs. Afterward I notice a knot just above my right eye. In the excitement of the moment I had the scope right up to my face and the kick gave me a nasty little bruise.
March 15th, 2013 at 4:27:49 PM permalink
Face
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Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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Quote: odiousgambit
whoa, some of that stuff was getting pretty serious. Glad to hear it's history.


I suppose, but it didn't feel that way. I lost my way, but never lost myself. But I agree, I'm glad it's over =)

Awesome stories ewjones! We have channel cats here, too, as you may have seen if you checked the whole thread. The state record is 32lbs and change, and was just in '02. Our county record seems to get re-broken every 2 years or so; we got a good, strong system going here. I haven't caught one myself in many moons, but I hope this is the year. They fight like a diesel truck, just no give in 'em ;)

Interesting about your gun season. "Horns locking" leads me assume it's during the rut, what, October-ish? That's our archery season. Shotgun doesn't start until the end of Nov, and muzzle isn't until mid Dec. I know about a hundred or so guys that'd kill to carry a boom stick in Oct!

Cool using your old man as a gun rest. Just can't make that stuff up =) And I'm glad to see I'm not the only one in this thread that's bashed their face with their own gun!
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
March 15th, 2013 at 4:50:37 PM permalink
ewjones
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 6
Posts: 32
Yeah, it was early to mid October and muzzleloader, I think the season was only a week. Archery is like six weeks I think, shotgun in mid December, for a week or so. Yeah never did that in the range, but the first time seeing a prize buck through the scope really gets the heart pumping and the mind not fully focused on the weapon.

I kid you not, when I was about ten years old, I was riding my bike to a friends house and saw a neighbor that had a catfish strung up on the tree like a deer and it was about my size. It was a minimum 100lbs easy.
March 15th, 2013 at 4:54:03 PM permalink
Face
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Quote: ewjones
Yeah, it was early to mid October and muzzleloader, I think the season was only a week. Archery is like six weeks I think, shotgun in mid December, for a week or so. Yeah never did that in the range, but the first time seeing a prize buck through the scope really gets the heart pumping and the mind not fully focused on the weapon.

I kid you not, when I was about ten years old, I was riding my bike to a friends house and saw a neighbor that had a catfish strung up on the tree like a deer and it was about my size. It was a minimum 100lbs easy.


Good stuff. I don't know how much of either you still do, but if you're still out in the woods, bring a camera and come on back! I don't get out of NY much, I'd love to see some stuff from around the country =)
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
March 15th, 2013 at 6:03:51 PM permalink
Face
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Gentlemen... It's Fishing Season!

DATE: 3/15/13
WEATHER: Cloudy and Windy. Temps in the high 20's. Winds gusting to 20mph. Light to moderate snow.
TREND: M61*, Tu48*, W35*, Th31*, F28*. Weekend thaw raised water 3 feet and set off a run. Cold front killed thaw and returned water to normal.

It's finally here! And after all the anticipation, I slept well into the afternoon >< What can I say, days on end of watching my little boy wore me out. But regardless of the piss poor weather (which can only be expected for WNY trout season), and the late start, I had to get out or I was going to hate myself in the morning.

I gave another whack at the nail knot, and only had to try twice before I nailed it (puns! =D). I gave a look to Ash, said let's go, and she was on her feet, out of her PJs, and suited up before I had even unpacked my waders.

She got me a new pair of chest waders after I drowned my hip waders last year, and they have a little inner pouch that fit my Glock perfectly. After I racked half the mag out (god, I hate NY), I had my gun stowed, jacket on, rods in hand, and we headed out into a grey, blowing, frigid, NY "spring".

As per usual, I headed right for my minnow hole on North Branch Clear Creek. This creek gets it's name because it runs through miles and miles of shale. With nothing to "dig into" as it winds it's way through the hills, it stays vodka clear almost all the time. This is where I go to get a read on the run. Beds, eggs, gut piles, and fish themselves are all easy to spot; if I can't find them here, then I probably won't find them anywhere else. Within 15 minutes from saying "let's go", we were already heading into the woods and stepping into the frigid waters.

We come in under a bridge which creates a rock island on the downstream side. With no trees to deal with, I figured we'd start right here with a lesson. While I've used a fly fishing-esque cast before when casting weightless lures with my spinning rod, neither of us had fly fished before, and she's never done anything of the sort. About the time we reach the island and get to a point we can both start our practice, the water in front of us rolls and a nice 7lb'er scoots away from us in 4" deep water. Yes!, I think. The fish are here. I give Ash a little verbal instruction, and she sets about trying to cast as she would with a spinning rig, giving it a very abrupt forward snap. Two attempts later and she had it tangled good. I unravel it in a minute, thinking that'll be the last time it'll go so smooth as my fingers are already losing feeling in the cold air, and give her a demonstration on how to gently bring it back and just as smoothly wing it forward. Nice and slow, nice and easy. With minutes, she had it down pat, and that was the first and last tangle we had all day.

We came to the first run, an area where the several meter wide crick funnels into about 2' wide and carves an overhang under a mass of tree roots. Surprisingly, I saw nothing doing. I know it as a place I've spooked 4, 5, even 7 fish out of, but there were no signs today. I decide to go to my minnow hole, a place where I've seen monster 'bows even in the dead of summer.

My minnow hole is created by a large root ball that forces the crick to take a 90* bend. Here, all the trees that get washed up get stuck, forcing the crick to dig around and under them. In the low water of summer, depending on how the crick carved it in the spring, it's about chest deep and runs a good 15' - 20' long. While some of the trees washed away and others had taken their place, it was in about the same configuration as I had left it. With her casting learned, I showed Ash how to play the current, what to expect when and if one bit, and left her to find my own spot to flick a fly.



I hadn't walked far when I looked down and noticed the snow was covered in earwigs. I kind of fell into a daze again, something I can't ever seem to help when I'm out in the woods. It seems everything I look at just makes me think. Being a bass fisherman for the most part, I'm used to catching bass on lures up to 9" long, often catching fish that are the same size as my bait. But here, I'm catching fish nearly 2' long, and they feed on these tiny specks of protein almost exclusively. It's something I can help but to stop and wonder at.



After a good 5 minutes oogling the bugs, I set up about 150yds from Ash. I had a quick run of "short water", water that's neither deep nor truly rapids, flanked on either side by deep pools. I figured I'd give it a whack, mostly practicing my delivery and aim than really fishing. I again fell into a kind of daydream, marvelling at how much this place changes. Here and now, the water's about 12' wide and about half a foot deep. A few days earlier, it was probably twice as wide and a couple feet deep. 2 years ago, down by the trees, a beaver had built a dam, pushing it to 30' wide and 4' deep. And just last summer, it went completely dry. One month I catch 10lb trout, a few later I'm catching 4" minnows and crayfish, a few after that and it's nothing but bees and flies, and a few months more it's so deep I can't even cross it.

The crick today, looking downstream.


The crick last August, same place, looking upstream.


At about this time, the wind picked up even more and it started snowing but good. Enough so that it was building up in my hood and filling the collar of my jacket. My hands were something I assumed must still be attached based on the lack of evidence otherwise, but it was just an assumption. Their feeling and function had abandoned me some time ago. After passing so many other holes without evidence of 'bows, and the complete lack of anything resembling dexterity, I decided to mostly pack up the fishing. But I still wanted to scout and gain some information.

I whistled for Ash, who met me downstream, and we start a good crick walk. We went farther than I'd ever gone before, not stopping until we were into the reservation. We must've identified a good 20 spots in my stomping grounds, many of them new as the crick gouged and tore it's way into the land, filling up old holes and making new ones as it went. We also spotted a good deal more as we kept trucking into uncharted territory.

A root ball resting spot, soon to be filled with trout


Ash learning that 3" can turn into 3' within one step


It wasn't until the walk back that I stopped looking in the water and started looking at the land that I found a number of additional signs. Random dots of red, blood that had fallen from a carried trout. And egg or two sitting on the snow, a flash of entrails hooked on a rock, a tick of scale stuck on a pricker bush. People had been here, this morning at the latest, and had pulled fish out. At least 3 or 4, based on the additional evidence I saw on the way back. The fish have arrived. The run has begun. And it's only going to get better from here.
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
March 16th, 2013 at 12:36:38 AM permalink
1nickelmiracle
Member since: Mar 5, 2013
Threads: 16
Posts: 549
WNY is a great place. I normally fished on Oneida Lake and miss it dearly. Fishing was the original gambling to me because I never knew what I would catch and always imagined the best imagination to be a possibility.
March 16th, 2013 at 4:34:24 AM permalink
odiousgambit
Member since: Oct 28, 2012
Threads: 70
Posts: 1485
Quote: ewjones
The whitetail hunting is equally boring, but much more satisfying.


I have mixed feelings about hunting deer as well. It can be crushingly boring, followed by wondering if your heart is going to bust out of your chest from intense excitement.

I love the venison you get ... for that matter, a big catfish yields some mighty good eating too [anytime the filets get big enough to cut into steaks, man! mighty fine.

Good stories!

PS: will have to catch up on your stories later, Face.
Mustard:You like Kipling, Miss Scarlet? Sure, I'll eat anything [from movie]
March 16th, 2013 at 4:45:58 AM permalink
Fleastiff
Member since: Oct 27, 2012
Threads: 47
Posts: 3985
Quote: Face

Ash learning that 3" can turn into 3' within one step

I see you are involved these days with a better type of ecstasy.