Thursday, May 8, 2014

Memories of my Grandfather

My Grandfather on my Dad's side was a true fisherman.  It was more an avocation with him than a sport or hobby.  It centered him and gave him peace.  This is something I can identify with totally.

My best memory of my Grandfather was brought to the fore, yesterday, when I was fighting that big Stingray.  The memory took me back to when I was around 5 years old, just before my Grampa died.  We were down at the channel by the boathouse at Cedar Point.  I had just caught my very first fish......a tiny little Bluegill.  I was using a toy fishing pole he'd bought me to play with with white cotton string and a hook and a bobber.  Simplicity itself.  When I caught the fish, I think Grampa was likely more surprised than I was.  I learned a couple lessons or so that day.

First lesson:  A fisherman always baits his own hook.
Second lesson:  A fisherman always takes his own fish off the hook
Third lesson:  If a fish is too small, put it back to grow up, and if a fish is really, really, really big and full of eggs, put it back because it keeps fish there for us to catch as part of the fish vs fisherman cycle.

After we were done with the fishing, we were at the hand pump, washing our hands to get ready to make a tomato sandwich from his little tomato patch by the boathouse, he  told me he had a secret to tell me that all fishermen eventually learn.  This secret is that fishing lines can sing.  All it takes is a fish big and heavy enough that it takes the line tension right to the edge of it's breaking strain for a steady pull.  This tension is a lot higher than the sudden breaking strain rating of, say, 30 pound test monofilament.  The tension on the line, the breeze, and the vibrations the fish imparts to the line trying to pull away, create a ringing, high pitched tone, much like how a guitar string or violin string creates a tone......there just isn't a sound board to amplify it, so you just barely hear it.

This brings me to my fight with the stingray yesterday.  I finally heard the line sing, yesterday.  I was fighting a near 300 pound fish on 30 pound test, and the ray was pulling the line right to it's edge of strength and stripping line in spite of the drag being cranked down tight.  Underneath the reels drag ratchet, I heard this clear ringing tone right at the top of my hearing range, a ringing tone that got deeper as the length of my line increased and the harmonic oscillation of the line changed frequencies, and went up in pitch again as I was able to win back line as well.

That was when I had the Eureka moment and realized that this must have been what Grampa L had been talking about to me.In fact, I remembered so clearly that I could literally see him, and hear him talking to me.  It was a perfect recollection.  It was a connection that stretched over a 50 year span, but was like it was just yesterday, at the same time, and it took me back to an innocent time.  I'm very grateful for that!  I'd love to be able to go fishing now with him, and now, in a way, I am.  As long as we're remembered BY someone, we still have an existence and attachment in this world, and fishing is my connection with him.

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