When the Fish Aren't Biting

Jul 17, 2018


An image of Nelson when the fish are biting.

I cleaned the rain gutters on my house this weekend. Which is another way of saying the fishing is slow.


As I grabbed handfuls of decaying leaf matter I thought about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s line from the Great Gatsby “The rich are different from you and me; they have more money.”


That is true, I thought, but what he really meant to say is the rich can hire people to do things like climb a ladder on a hot humid day and clean a gutter.


My weekend chores might have included mowing the lawn, but thankfully most of the grass in my yard has been transformed into a yellowish mat of straw. I see this as a good thing.


Once, in the blush of new home ownership, I somewhat diligently spread lime and fertilizer based on a schedule tied to an ad campaign designed to sell me more of the stuff — four bags for four steps. Then it occurred to me that the more of the stuff I spread, the faster my weeds grew, but my “lawn” always looked the same.


Eventually I concluded that a lawn composed of green weeds is as good as green grass, and it requires far less maintenance. So, I no longer fertilize. I like to claim that I am environmentally conscious but to be honest I am just uninterested in lawn care.


I now mow about as often as I get a haircut — which happens with less and less frequency as my hairline recedes with age.


I do not own a mower. Instead, I regularly borrow my next door neighbor’s, which frees up room in my shed for fishing and hunting and clamming gear.


My dilemma is that I prefer not to do chores I can put off when the bass and bluefish are around, or during deer hunting season and duck hunting season. Which leaves me with a small window of opportunity for home improvement projects.


For example, I began organizing our basement this winter, but only made it halfway through that job before the fish arrived. I do not know when I will restart that project.


Should Norma ask about it I will say that the bonito are moving in.


I always try to make it sound as though I am involved in high-level government work, as though my going out in search of bonito is somehow related to issues of national security.


Honing a laissez faire style of homeownership required years of studied neglect — and an understanding spouse. And I suppose, it helps that we do not live in a formal subdivision subject to an aesthetic sense of the Vineyard that runs counter to my concept of rural charm — one man’s boat cooler collection is another man’s blight.


One thing I have in my favor is my wife’s absolute look of fear and worry whenever I pick up any kind of tool and announce I plan to begin a project. Norma has seen enough of my carpentry skills to know that home projects are best left to professionals.


The warm water of late July affects the fishing in the same way that humid days slow down people. I could take my small Tashmoo-18 skiff out into Vineyard Sound to look for fluke and sea bass.



Or, there is always that lawn that needs attention.