This story initially appeared within the August 2008 concern.

THE SPRING RUN of white perch up the Potomac has turn into an obsession with me, a brand new and improved method to torture myself. The fish are there all proper, and success is inevitable given persistence and the fitting components: river stage, temperature, tide, and luck. After an oh-for-four begin, I figured all of this was not prone to come collectively this season. After which I obtained fortunate. Heidi-Klum-and-me-on-a-desert-island fortunate. The-IRS-has-cleared-you-of-any-malfeasance fortunate. We’re-out-of-meatloaf-but-can-substitute-the-32-ounce-porterhouse-for-the-same-price fortunate. 

The difficult factor about luck is that it’s usually indistinguishable from failure till the final second. I started that day as I had the others, swinging the boat into the present and dropping downstream, mist lifting off the river similar to earlier than. The one distinction was that this time I had introduced individuals who really knew what they had been doing: Paula Smith and Dickie Tehaan, skilled perchaholics. I determine if luck messes with you, it’s solely proper that you need to reply in sort.

As we head towards the primary of many perch holes Dickie is aware of from many years of fishing out right here, Paula fills me in on the forged of characters round us. The man anchored midcurrent with 4 strains out is a union-certified mason who knocks down $37 an hour when he’s working. When the massive striped bass are in, he stops working, although they’re strictly catch-and-release for the following three weeks. He smiles and waves at Paula. He’s sporting his white work duds, proper right down to the apron, filled with bait and sort out. “Man’s nuts,” she confides, waving again. “Sleeps in his automobile to save cash, then buys recent lobster tail for bait if no person’s obtained herring.” She nods at three guys in a non-public boat, considered one of whom razzes her about catching all of the fish. “Contractor. Works laborious. Good fisherman. Drives two hours right here on his day without work and goes by means of a 12-pack earlier than midday. His brother’s worse. He’ll do a case.” All types of wackos are topic to the river’s pull. It’s not like several of us three is a poster little one for normalcy. Dickie, whose hand-tied bucktails are thought-about the last word perch lure hereabouts, as soon as refused a promotion at work as a result of it will reduce into his fishing. Paula, who seldom consumes store-bought protein, is a identified eccentric. Me, I’m thought-about scatterbrained and innocent however accorded a sure grudging respect. Not many at my ability stage have the brass to maintain exhibiting up.

Dickie is a prospector, checkerboarding the river for fish. He says little, as if clearing the deck of his thoughts so his hunches don’t must shout to be heard. Every relocation means I get to tug a 30-pound rock up by means of 40 or 50 ft of present. So that is how Popeye obtained these arms.

After two hours, he positions us virtually invasively near the place two fats guys have been jigging all morning with out a chunk. “They’re a hair too tight to shore and too excessive,” he mutters. I drop the rock, pay out line till I really feel it maintain. The perch hit our jigs as quickly as they attain. backside. “That’ll work!” shouts Paula, lifting a foot-long fish from the water. Something over 9 inches is taken into account good. We hook and launch three or 4 smaller than this for each one we hold. The wire basket tied to the facet is however filling up quick. For as soon as I’m standing smack on the nook of Proper Place and Proper Time. That is biblical fishing, silver multiplication. The Potomac, insulted by sewage, runoff, and significantly (in line with Fletcher’s Boat Home regulars) the egg-killing settling brokers dumped by the Dalecarlia Water Therapy Plant upstream, can one way or the other but ship an echo of its previous abundance. 

When the fish begin flopping freed from our overflowing basket, we reduce a size of anchor rope for a stringer. Then it dawns on us that we nonetheless have to scrub all these suckers. I raise the rock one final time. Ashore, we ice the fish and get to work and shortly have a picnic desk trying like Duncan’s bed room from Macbeth. The chilly fish render our fingers slimy, purple, and numb, and it appears solely attainable that you might reduce your self, not pay attention to it, and hold working till you bleed out and keel over. At which level, we’ve all agreed, the opposite two can cut up your share and hold working. 

We end because the solar is setting. I’m exhausted however nonetheless buzzing with endorphins and vindication. Persist with it lengthy sufficient and the celebrities align. I really feel like slapping myself for having overlooked what a present it’s to be alive and jigging. I throw my rod, gear, and fish into the automobile, gentle a victory cigar, and roll down all of the home windows for the drive house. All I’ve to do now could be put my fish within the freezer and get right into a sizzling bathe. I park in entrance of the home, and whereas closing all 4 home windows, I hear the acquainted crunch of a rod tip in a glass guillotine. As we speak’s sufferer is of the aristocracy, a top-of-the-line 6-foot 6-inch Fenwick with Aramid Veil hoop-fiber expertise that now measures precisely 6 ft. Even this fails to dent my happiness. Breaking a rod, like perch fishing success, is inevitable given persistence and the fitting components: electrical home windows, bumpy roads, a victory cigar. The truth that I used to be capable of get the job performed the primary time? Simply exceptionally good luck.

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