Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Derivations of Insanity: or, On Carping, Casting, and Chocolate Cake

“Isn’t insanity...doing the same thing, over and over again,” yelled Jay between cursing buffalo bur and groundsel, and trying to manage a 70 ft double haul...
“...but expecting different results?”

“Why yes...yes it is.” I grinned...“Einstein, I believe...” (These sorts of things can be amusing when you're not the one trying to catch the carp.)

More cursing got him more distance on the next cast, but the line went too far to the right -- three times in a row. And the same thing again and again can make a person start to feel insane, you know. Strangely, even good things. Yes, your mother was right about the German Chocolate Cake. After a while, you’ll start to craving lemon meringue. Even holidays and leftovers; plunge pools and puppies. You are glad when things change -- when the stream settles out, when things grow up and you aren’t cleaning pee-paper off the floor anymore.

For while humans may indeed be creatures of habit -- habit is not always repetition, and repetition is not always the same thing. There are fine lines hiding in all of that, and you find them through practicing scales for hours upon hours, or casting into a lake again and again.

Yet while we can in fact learn from our mistakes -- from our crumpled hearts, plans, and casts -- that doesn’t always mean we can fix them, or change what we’ll do the next time around. Like that woman who always ends up with the jerk -- who has the bad-boy attraction, again and again. You can come to know why you do what you do (admittance is the first step, after all), but for whatever reason, sometimes you just can’t not do it again.

Which...strikes me as a lot like carping.

And casting for that matter.

Both derivations of insanity.

And then when the line goes to the left a few times, snagging on some reeds, he spits -- get your head in the game -- over the highway noise, over the kind of drone that’s suddenly realized because you can’t hear something else (one of those things that isn’t a problem until it’s paired up. Like some people with people, or like bacon with chocolate.)


Yet the carp stayed put, humping in the mud like a dog with its stuffed animal -- but not looking nearly as guilty when caught in the act.  


With its back out of the water, biding more time.

Just enough...until the head got in the game.

Until something different happened. 


58 comments:

  1. What's wrong with bacon and chocolate together?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The same thing struck me Mike. Crispy, salty bacon. Sweet, smooth German Chocolate. Sounds like a winning combo.

      Delete
    2. Steve - Ah, I understand the salty/sweet thing...but not with bacon. ;)

      Delete
    3. Chocolate covered bacon, but it has to be dark chocolate, it's good for the heart and counteracts the bad part of bacon.

      Plus the beer. Good beer, really good beer.

      Now I'm hungry, and thirsty.

      She won't eat bacon with chocolate, but she fly fishes for carp. There's just something fundamentally wrong with this train of thought...

      Delete
    4. I don't drink beer, either...so now I'm really a kook!

      Delete
    5. Kook, yes. But, as we've already established, in all the best ways.

      Delete
  2. We carp fly fishers are already engaged in a seductive dance with insanity. Add to the alluring dance a cocktail of 70 ft and buffalo bur and what was innocent flirting quickly turns into a one night stand. Beware the all night wedding chapel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DFrasier - I think your warning is too late! (Thank goodness.) And thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  3. How the heck can you cast 3 times by a carp and not spook it? You must have cowboy outlaw carp in them there parts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kevin - Nah...just a cowboy outlaw caster.

      Delete
  4. Yep. You know I am with you on this one.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I understand what you say, but also have to ask what's wrong with bacon and chocolate?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Howard - So very many things...bacon should go with tomatoes.

      Delete
  6. "one of those things that isn’t a problem until it’s paired up. Like some people with people, or like bacon with chocolate."

    A wonderful error...like humping carp giving you one more chance not to miss...

    a fine read indeed. Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sanders - A wonderful error indeed...and thanks as always!

      Delete
  7. I'll have you know that there is a shop in downtown Manhatten that sells chocolate dipped bacon for almost $4.00 a strip.(true story!). The real test will come when your lunch and snacks are all but burned up and you find yourself setting on a picnic bench waiting for the evening fishing and chowing down on Hostess Chocolate Mini Donuts chased with Jack Danials out of a flask. The Hostess Donuts give you energy and the Danials will melt those nasty things right off your teeth. (also a true story)......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Midgeman - I'm sure all are indeed true...but none I care to test! ;)

      Delete
  8. Fishing for carp is a form of insanity per se yet, it brings with it its own cure.

    ReplyDelete
  9. An enjoyable read as ever Erin. Quite a bit different from the way carp are hunted in England...

    Regular Rod

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Regular Rod - Thank you! And I've been noticing that...always interesting, those differences...

      Delete
  10. Erin- Nice photo. The one hand off the handle and on the lower section of the rod. His stance as well. The shot has a real athletic feel. Repetition of movement. When the situation you have practiced for presents itself. The head and body are both in the game. The movement becomes one. Nice thoughts,photography and writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Scott - Thanks! It turned out to be a really great day. One not entirely expected. Always a plus!

      Delete
  11. When I saw the title of your post, I thought 'What is wrong with chocolate cake??? Casting, yes, I've had people carp about my casting'
    Ah well, I first thought of the intransitive verb....
    Cheers Erin, it was 34f here this morning, maybe the start of fall?
    Mike

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mike (Should Fish More) - Yep, I think we've definitely crossed the threshold on fall. Snowed up at a high lake on Monday. It's coming...

      Delete
  12. I've always thought there is a fine line between being stubborn and being persistent. To be successful you must cross the line occasionally.

    ReplyDelete
  13. As noted in my response to Mike's response my gut tells me that bacon and chocolate are a far better mixture than you imply. I will experiment this weekend with chocolate dipped bacon and report back.

    Carp. I don't get it, but that's likely because I'm a trout snob. Kirk, Chris and Bruce whet my appetite on this a few weeks ago. Maybe someday.

    Ask anyone who works in a fly shop and they'll tell you that guy in the picture is holding the rod wrong. He's gonna bust it.

    So, setting aside the fact that this post was about Carp, an aversion to chocolate covered bacon, and demonstrated poor rod handling skills, it's a fine piece of writing. Well done, Erin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve - I have experimented...mind got the better of me. Too weird! And carp are absolutely worth un-snobiffying for...they put you in your place, quick smack.

      Delete
  14. "For while humans may indeed be creatures of habit -- habit is not always repetition, and repetition is not always the same thing. There are fine lines hiding in all of that, and you find them through practicing scales for hours upon hours, or casting into a lake again and again."

    Such a great passage. Erin, you keep getting better and better. At fishing...observing...and writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jay - You're my conscience in that...and thank you!

      Delete
  15. "Crumpled hearts, plans, and casts." Yes. And then there's that indomitable human spirit thing, keeping you going back to try again. But thanks for the reminder that, just as you can't put your hand in the same river twice, so each cast, each try is new. Or maybe I'm just crazy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jim - And maybe, so am I...(we're in good company, I'd say)

      Delete
  16. Just a quick question. Is fishing to carp humping anything like fishing a redd with spawning trout on the gravel? Is the lowly carp a lesser creature?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous - No, one could make the argument that it's actually a higher one. I don't fish to spawning carp, just like I don't trout. And when carp feed, they very much "hump" the mud, which is to what in this case I was referring.

      Delete
    2. Sorry, thought the term was tailing; I had no idea they humped too.

      Delete
    3. A tailing fish (carp, redfish, permit), is one feeding in shallow water with their face on the bottom and tail visible above the surface of the water. Oftentimes when a carp is in water too shallow to be at a 45 degree angle, their backs are completely out of the water and they "slooch", hump, or whatever term you choose to coin...as one (to my knowledge) hasn't been established.

      Delete
  17. I'm leaning towards "slooch"

    ReplyDelete
  18. "You can come to know why you do what you do (admittance is the first step, after all), but for whatever reason, sometimes you just can’t not do it again."

    Amazing distillation of the carp fishing experience.

    Too often I have found myself casting to a fish or group that is undoubtedly aware of my presence and as such has resolved to not eat anything until I leave. They don't spook away, though, and sometimes they will follow or look at my fly. I know I should leave them and search for a fresh group of fish, but I just can't.

    I have wasted hours of prime sight fishing time on two Great Lakes doing this -- my skin, patience, and casting ability burning away in the reflected high sun. I wonder if I'll ever learn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Voyageur.Pursuits - I have the same learning difficulties! Both with carp...and small stream pocket water. It's just so hard to walk away from a place you know there are fish! Whether they want to eat or not...

      Delete
  19. I love the insanity of Carp fishing. Yes indeed. (Bacon and chocolate cake too. But not together)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mr. P. - Indeed, I know you do! And it sounds like you have your food priorities in the right order!

      Delete
  20. very nice reflection on habit and repetition.
    very nice reflection on habit and repetition.

    Also, thanks for helping me remember why it's nice not to be a dog's stuffed animal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rhythm Rider - Glad I could help. Glad I could help. ;-)

      Delete
  21. "For while humans may indeed be creatures of habit -- habit is not always repetition, and repetition is not always the same thing. There are fine lines hiding in all of that, and you find them through practicing scales for hours upon hours, or casting into a lake again and again."

    I'm with Jay. Great read as per usual of course, but those couple of sentences were, well, wow.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ty and I shared flies, both great patterns, but as he pointed out, "we are creatures of habit," thus we are reluctant to try flies unfamiliar to us. It's not exactly habit, what we learned to catch Ph.D fish was hard won, so we do what is best for us. And, for your information, being the Adam's Peanut Butter freak that I am, it does NOT go well with sardines! Kind of like bacon and chocalate cake I would imagine. Good stuff Erin-thanks!

    Gregg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gregg - "We do what is best for us"...exactly. fFly choice still intrigues and bewilders me. Oh! And thanks for that warning about PB and sardines...

      Delete
  23. Great piece, yet again. It's so satisfying when persistence pays off. __Yet leaving, then coming back for another go [like a "refresh"] works well also, perhaps because something changes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hart - It certainly is. Trying, trying again. And again. Because sometimes, as you say, something changes...and things fall into place.

      Delete
  24. The overcoming a trial is a great triumph and well worth the momentary insanity. Deserving of chocolate bacon cake.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. backcountryfishnerd - Very deserving, indeed! Except for the bacon ;)

      Delete
  25. Your exciting literary successes are showing us how lucky we are to be able to read you for free. And now your fly!!! Congratulations!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete