Category Archives: Fishing

What Children Do When Deprived of TV/Video Games

As we come closer and closer to winter’s bad weather and the associated heartlessness of forcing the children outdoors for their daily bout of video-game and tv-free (self)-entertainment, we’ve moved into arts-and-crafts mode.

Lest this be perceived as doily-decorating, scrapbook-creating fluffiness (confessing upfront that one of our two boys spends an inordinate amount of his non-tv time cooking and/or making architectural plans on post-it notes) I present this piece of handiwork, which makes me feel much more confident that my children will be equipped to survive a coming apocalypse:

the rubberband fly-fishing bait

Note that the red thread has been woven INTO the rubberband!

Although this little beauty was almost mistaken for lint and vacuumed from our living-room floor, it is worth noting that the creator  (I suspect my older, fishing-crazy son) adhered to house rules and did not complete his masterwork.  No hooks!

As a bait, it’s a little NQR, and just a tad redneck-ish.   As a demonstration of what a 12-year old can do when unplugged for a few minutes, it’s precious.


Fishing from Pontius Pilate’s Palace

The gloom of a foggy, pre-winter day here on the east coast of the US has sent me back to my storehouse of Middle Eastern photos, perhaps seeking warmth, perhaps respite from academics and from brutal post-storm New Jersey traffic and congestion.

The ‘throne room’ or reception chamber of the governor’s palace at Caesarea.

I found a series of photos from a visit to the ancient Roman ruins of Caesarea in Israel.  They’re warm.  They’re balmy and quiet (I was almost alone, near closing time for the ruins, making a quick dash to see the site on my way back from a marathon tour day where I visited the entirety of the Golan Heights all the way up to Majd al-Shams, the ruins of Nimrod, the Lebanese-Israeli border, and the northern coast from Haifa down to Tel Aviv.)

Most important, these photos resonate with a sad truth about life and history: slow but steady decay, accompanied by the cheerier but still fatalistic idea that life continues, unabated, even over the most important puzzle pieces of a contentious past.

Two fishermen on a jetty that was probably, at one time, a garden courtyard overlooked by Pontius Pilate’s seaside reception chamber.

That is the mark of NQR I found at Caesarea:  the mundane littlenesses upon which the world really functions, many little examples of which seemed to be creeping — all at once — inward from the sea to reclaim such a fabulous, famous site.

For example, standing in the very spot where the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate held audience with the Apostle Paul and granted him the request to be judged, as a Roman citizen, in front of Caesar himself, I saw the ruins slipping back into the sea and a few local Arab men clambering over the shore, fishing.  Life continues.  I love that.  Despite the rocks, the ruins, the joinery, the faience tilework, the vista, these men operated on a simpler and more innocent level, plying the ruins in search of dinner.

Plaque (multi-language!) telling how the Apostle Paul sought an audience with the Emperor and was shipped to Rome from this location.

More of the world’s petty necessities creeping in toward Caesarea: a power plant just down the beach from the ruins.

A last beautiful photo of a fisherman on the sculpted but eroding shores of the ancient city.

 

 

 


Sleep Fishing

This image qualifies as the opposite of “Not Quite Right.”  It’s 100% right, what life should be like everyday.

Taken in the Boundary Waters, a canoe-only wilderness on the border of Minnesota and Canada.  My 12-year old had paddled 13 miles and then fished, almost non-stop, for the rest of the day.  Late afternoon, beautifully calm skies and waters, the fishing ‘action’ had drifted off and so, too, had he.  He’s completely asleep in this photo, though he’s holding his fishing pole cupped in both hands and though the bobber drifts on the mirror-flat surface of the lake.  A fish even bit at one point, pulling and jiggling the bobber beneath the surface.  He continued to sleep and then, at last, after about 20 minutes, startled awake, completely unaware of where he was!  How strange it must have been for him to wake from a dream into the very place of his dreams.

My 12-year old, in paradise.


Dhow Construction

Fishing boats in the inner harbor, Sur.

The port of Sur, Oman is one of the few places in the world still engaged in manufacturing traditional dhows, the famous merchant ships of Arabia with slanting lateen-rigged sails and stitched, rather than nailed or pegged, fastenings for their wooden plank sides.  Used for many centuries as the main cargo and fishing ships on the Indian Ocean, plying routes from Africa to India and all up and down the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, these vessels recall a pearl-diving, pirate-infested culture now largely subsumed by oil revenues, Ferraris, and a smattering of folks still interested in traditional culture (mostly tourists and Omani/Emirate/Bahrani/Kuwaiti history-buffs).

The hand-carved scrollwork on the back of this dhow displays some beautiful lacquer.

Sur is a great destination for the traveler interested in seeing dhows because the huge inner harbor is lined, near its entrance, with various dockyards and carpentry shops planing the boards, tarring the decks, and building, from the ground-up, ships propped on slanting rails ready to be launched into the water.

The workshops aren’t necessarily ‘open’ and no guided tours are available but people in Sur are friendly and will gladly show a tourist around.

A worker at the dockyards builds a scale model as a plan for a new dhow.

What is, perhaps, NQR, about the entire industry of dhow building — now largely outmoded by fiberglass fishing boats and huge metal-hulled cargo ships — is that most of the production depends on the interest of western tourists, our fascination with a romantic image of the orient that includes swarthy pirates and the travels of Sinbad (who hails, traditionally, from Sohar, just up the coast in Oman).  One wonders if any but a few dhows, moored as cultural relics, would exist if it weren’t for western tourists wanting to go for a dive, a swim, or a party picnic aboard these high-decked beauties of a time gone-by.

My children aboard a dhow, ready to go snorkeling. This one appeared to have been built with pegs rather than sewing. It also had a diesel motor rather than a lateen sail. Sort of a quasi-dhow.

 


An Original Odor

A few, a very few roadside hotspots have the power to ‘attract’ (or repulse) a traveler via smell alone.  This is one.  And its perfume (in comparison to Western notions of soapy, sometimes fake, cleanliness) provides a very compelling moment of NQR.

Fishermen heave at the drying tarps to roll up their catch.

In the Musandum Penninsula of Oman, just south of the city of Khasab, we drove past a beach where local fisherman had been drying their catch, millions upon millions of small minnows.  The smell from the beach was absolutely rancid, but the process itself proved to be fascinating and ingenious.  It involved the close cooperation of somewhere around twenty fishermen, each with separate boats, separate nets, separate small Toyota trucks used to haul their equipment, but with one shared, central task:  drying the fish.  The collective activity of these men, their cooperation rather than competition, speaks to a totally different cultural expectation than our capitalism.  Certainly they are all in it for profit, at some level, but the ties of kinship and mutal support that likely drive their cooperation are certainly alien to the western idea of how work ought to be performed.

Late afternoon shade falls over millions of dried minnows.

The fishermen were very clever in placing their drying mats.  In full sun during the height of the day for maximum drying benefit, the shadows of the nearby cliffs fell toward and then over the mats at just the same time as the sardines reached an acceptable level of dryness.  This allowed the fishermen to work in the shade, a vigorous hour of activity rolling up mats, whacking fabric to dislodge stuck fishies, creating huge piles of sardines.

While, admittedly, the process employed many modern conveniences — toyotas, synthetic plastic tarps, fiberglass hulled boats with diesel engines — an element of the primordial process remained:  the fish whacking sticks themselves, usually pieces of driftwood found on the beach.

Plump sheik displays his handy fish-whacker.

If it weren’t for the smell, I might have been tempted to jump in and assist!