Piscator Warming Up

Here is my good friend Piscator back on the scene and making a few warm-up casts.

Piscator has spotted a school of tarpon swimming down the bank and coming toward him.

Piscator has landed his fly and has worked it into the perfect zone in front of the lead fish of the school.

Alright! The lead fish ignored the fly but the second fish in the school attacked it and now Piscator is hooked up again!

As the fish takes off running and jumping Piscator begins clearing line.

Piscator is illustrating perfect line-clearing technique. He is keeping his clearing hand as far away from the reel as he can while maintaining just enough pressure to keep the line barely tight while the fish takes off.

After the fish has eaten the fly the angler has to manage his line during the clearing process. If the angler has been making long casts, but gets an eater and hooks up close to the boat, he's going to have a lot of line to get cleared and on the reel.

This fish is graciously helping by running directly away from Piscator. This is ideal because, while Piscator clears his line, he has the luxury of only having to worry about keeping the line tight and away from anything it could wrap around and tangle.

Piscator is still clearing his line which has come alive. It's looping and coiling like an angry serpent ready to strike.

Piscator is still hooked up and still under control.

Piscator is still clearing line while staying tight.

It's getting down to the nitty-gritty and Piscator is beginning to think he has everything in good order. Amazingly, the fish is still heading directly away at a high rate of speed.

It's still looking like Piscator will get his line cleared without any catastrophes.

The flyline appears as if it's attempting a last ditch effort at hanging up on whatever it can find. At this point Piscator's adrenaline has skyrocketed to an almost toxic level. His attention to his flyline is as focused as a laser beam. He's maintaining the precise amount of pressure on the line while monitoring the remaining loop, which has taken a bead on his shoe laces as possibly the last thing it could find to latch onto.

The scant few seconds that pass between the time the fish eats the fly and the angler gets his line cleared, on the reel, and pulling drag, is consumed by the angler's frantic attempt to manage the loose coils of line. During this time the angler unknowingly crosses over into a sort of parallel dimension. Time slows down in this alien dimension, and the loop of flyline between the angler's hand and reel suddenly springs to life. It's not that this loop of flyline just becomes animated; it actually transforms into a living entity with a conscience and a mission, which must be accomplished without fail during its ephemeral existence. This loop-creature is the tarpon's ally and the angler's enemy. While it is alive, this loop-creature is aggressively seeking anything it could possibly wrap around or get caught on. It will take advantage of any opportunity that may avail itself. Any kind of protrusion, i.e., loose screw, cleat, bow-eye, rope end, reel handle, the entire reel, rod guides, a ;piece of string on the deck, buckles on tackle bags, other rods and reels on the boat, other people, other people's stuff, the engine, ignition switch, push-pole, an itinerant ham sandwich, water bottle, angler's body parts, etc..., the loop-creature will find and exploit. The loop-creature is predisposed by nature to acquire a target that is conveniently situated, and configured in such a way that it will catch and tangle any kind of line. The loop-creature does this because it hates anglers - some more than others. The loop-creature wraps itself around anything it can in order sabotage the angler by fetching him up and breaking the fish off. The loop-creature is the epitome of efficiency in this regard. Within a microsecond of finding an anchor point it will throw as many of its coils as it can around whatever it is and constrict it like a python. Whenever an angler is clearing line he is locked in unmitigated hand-to-hand warfare with the loop-creature. The loop-creature is faster than the angler. The loop-creature is smarter than the angler. The loop-creature has every advantage over the angler. The loop creature will always win if the angler isn't forever vigilant and on guard.

While journeying through the sixth dimension of the line-clearing process, the loop creature is something Piscator is intimately familiar with. They are age-old enemies.

This is because the loop-creature is a natural born expert at the art of having its way with Piscator. Thousands and thousands of times over the years Piscator has been beaten, thrashed and abused by the loop-creature. The loop-creature lives under Piscator's skin. The loop-creature has been steadily boring into Piscator's brain and has made its home in its inner sanctum. The loop-creature is now in control. Piscator's ability to judge reality has been compromised. Now, while clearing line, Piscator's degenerated sense of reason places him squarely in Wonderland, where he's at war with Alice and the loop-creature, who he knows have been conspiring against him all his life. But Piscator is not one who surrenders easily. In his war with the loop-creature Piscator has decisively won many battles.

Unbelievably, Piscator seems to have gained the advantage over his mortal enemy, the pesky loop-creature.

Piscator gains confidence that he might be winning this battle. Or is the loop-creature just feigning retreat?

WATCH OUT Piscator! The loop-creature has many tricks in his bag. Piscator was sure he had it made. The flyline was nowhere near anything it could hang up on around the boat including Piscator's shoes or shoelaces. But this time the loop-creature is launching an attack on Piscator's hand and fingers.

OK, now things are looking really good for Piscator. The fish is still racing straight away and the line is almost clear.

One more small loop and Piscator will have the fish on the reel.

Almost there.

HURRAY!!! Piscator is finally on the reel! The fish is still greyhounding away from the boat and starting to take line and pull drag. It's time for me to put the camera away, unstake the boat, and head out after the fish.

This sequence of eighteen frames (frames 4-22), which was from the hookup to the point when the line was clear and on the reel, was one camera burst at six and a half frames per second. That means all this took place in about three seconds.

The battle is on.

Piscator is dialing down and applying pressure.

Piscator keeps the pressure on.

Piscator bowing to the fish.

Well, Piscator has won the battle with the loop-creature this time. But, the loop-creature does not know defeat. He may be licking his wounds from this last go-around, but he's only biding his time till Piscator hooks up again. When that happens who knows which way the tide will turn.