Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

Merwin: The Call of the Surf

Recent Comments

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Syndicate

Google Reader or Homepage
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My AOL

The Lateral Line
in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

September 25, 2009

Merwin: The Call of the Surf

By John Merwin

The call of the surf. That is partly why I’m on Cape Cod today, and before heading home tomorrow I want to try and explain just a bit of why surfcasting has such a magical appeal.

Standing at the ocean’s edge, a fisherman seems infinitely small compared to the vastness of the water. It’s an odd feeling and makes trout rivers and bass lakes seem cozy by comparison. I have often felt oddly idiotic standing at the edge of the sea, wondering where in that huge expanse I might cast.

Then at some point a cast is made, the reel cranked, and something unseen gives a powerful yank on the line. That is a startling event that somehow defies logic, sort of like getting a message from Mars. The event becomes a striper flopping on the beach, and in releasing the fish back into the washing waves I find everything starts to make more sense.

Over time—lots of time—I learn more about tidal cycles, wind, weather, sandbars and wave-gouged holes near the beach. What at first was an infinite, impenetrable ocean becomes at least partly predictable. I learn by those things both where to go and when to go there.

But there is still, after so many years of doing this, also a sense of my own smallness, standing in the waves under the stars, casting and hoping, and like surfmen everywhere, ultimately facing the ocean in solitary insignificance.

Comments (11)

Top Rated
All Comments
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Very nice Mr. Merwin. And people wonder why we fish.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Stripers were a passion of mine for many years. Now bow season tempts me a little more than fishing, but it is a great pursuit nonetheless.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Appreciate you capturing the image.

Luckily, here in Michigan, we also have endless shores and seemingly limitless water, looking out over the Great Lakes. Can enjoy them with or without a fishing pole. Fried clams would be nice but can easily settle for fresh whitefish. In a few months, there will be thick slabs of ice and biting cold winds making us feel even more insignificant.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bruce E. Matthews wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Hope you get into a blitz, John. Getting to be that time of year....

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from chadlove wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

That's a nice bit of writing there...

Fishing the surf for big stripers is something that's always fascinated me and something I've always wanted to do. I'll get there one of these days.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Good post. Now let's see you get philosophical about fried clams.

Sometimes I get lost and dizzy if I contemplate the stars just a little. Normally, they look like dots on the inside of a sphere, but with optics you can see the depth of field: This is where I lose it. We have all these preconceptions of orientation, distance and direction - what is up and down, East and West, what's where - not so much if you scan the heavens. Up has just become out. Then I fall over and don't get up for a while because my mind is once again blown. The crazy part is that it's just simple physical spacial stuff, nothing too ponderous. Consider more and you might have an aneurysm.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from oldboot wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

So many memories have been brought back. I grew up on the south Texas coast. I miss surf fishing, so relaxing, uncompromising, not crowded and down to earth. Its amazing how unscientific it is. Most of us learn from observation and look forward to going back to the surf. Reading how a wave breaks the direction of the wind, time of day and tides. These are things that tv shows will never understand. I can't wait to go surf fishing again.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Wags wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

John, that is a piece of writing. Lengthen it from a blog posting to a one page story and it is hauntingly similar to "Hill Country" articles from years past. Those that know me know I can give no higher journalistic compliment.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jnicolette wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Awesome synopsis. I was first introduced to surf fishing off the coast of North Carolina and now take every chance I get to introduce my land-locked friends to the sport - they all have the same first thought: that's it? But when they catch their first Blue or Striper, boy does that all change. Fish on.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from aragonnapoles wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

I'm living in Mexico(the pacific coast) terms are the same,waves,tides,wind,solitude and stars; there aren't stripers here but we have another species swimming around,hunting for our lures...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from earlyriser81 wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

I feel the same way about the surf. Coming from the hills of North GA to the ocean is a huge treat. There is nothing better than getting on the sand before too many others, seeing the sun rise, and sometimes even getting a tug on your line.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from buckhunter wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Very nice Mr. Merwin. And people wonder why we fish.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from chadlove wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

That's a nice bit of writing there...

Fishing the surf for big stripers is something that's always fascinated me and something I've always wanted to do. I'll get there one of these days.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Wags wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

John, that is a piece of writing. Lengthen it from a blog posting to a one page story and it is hauntingly similar to "Hill Country" articles from years past. Those that know me know I can give no higher journalistic compliment.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Stripers were a passion of mine for many years. Now bow season tempts me a little more than fishing, but it is a great pursuit nonetheless.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Appreciate you capturing the image.

Luckily, here in Michigan, we also have endless shores and seemingly limitless water, looking out over the Great Lakes. Can enjoy them with or without a fishing pole. Fried clams would be nice but can easily settle for fresh whitefish. In a few months, there will be thick slabs of ice and biting cold winds making us feel even more insignificant.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bruce E. Matthews wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Hope you get into a blitz, John. Getting to be that time of year....

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Good post. Now let's see you get philosophical about fried clams.

Sometimes I get lost and dizzy if I contemplate the stars just a little. Normally, they look like dots on the inside of a sphere, but with optics you can see the depth of field: This is where I lose it. We have all these preconceptions of orientation, distance and direction - what is up and down, East and West, what's where - not so much if you scan the heavens. Up has just become out. Then I fall over and don't get up for a while because my mind is once again blown. The crazy part is that it's just simple physical spacial stuff, nothing too ponderous. Consider more and you might have an aneurysm.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jnicolette wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

Awesome synopsis. I was first introduced to surf fishing off the coast of North Carolina and now take every chance I get to introduce my land-locked friends to the sport - they all have the same first thought: that's it? But when they catch their first Blue or Striper, boy does that all change. Fish on.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from oldboot wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

So many memories have been brought back. I grew up on the south Texas coast. I miss surf fishing, so relaxing, uncompromising, not crowded and down to earth. Its amazing how unscientific it is. Most of us learn from observation and look forward to going back to the surf. Reading how a wave breaks the direction of the wind, time of day and tides. These are things that tv shows will never understand. I can't wait to go surf fishing again.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from aragonnapoles wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

I'm living in Mexico(the pacific coast) terms are the same,waves,tides,wind,solitude and stars; there aren't stripers here but we have another species swimming around,hunting for our lures...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from earlyriser81 wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

I feel the same way about the surf. Coming from the hills of North GA to the ocean is a huge treat. There is nothing better than getting on the sand before too many others, seeing the sun rise, and sometimes even getting a tug on your line.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment