Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Quiet Night, A Rod & Reel, and a couple of Unconventional Fillet Knives

When it comes to saltwater bay fishing I prefer the night.  Last night I fished the early morning hours in near silence save the occasional chirps of wandering seagulls and the sloshing waves waxing and waning with the tides.  It’s solitary fishing on a solitary pier.  Some people need crowds, or at least a group in which to participate in an activity.  Take them away from the gathering and their fun is gone.  But for some of us it’s the quiet, the seclusion and privacy, the chance to sit alone and think and listen and contemplate.  And in this case, it’s the chance to fish with no distractions or small talk or loud voices or any of the things that a group generally brings.

I fished from 10:00 to 11:30 pm then took an hour nap, awoke, ate a snack, drank some coffee and continued fishing until the first hints of dawn broke over the eastern sky.  Landed some speckled trout; kept the legal ones and let the others go.  In between I filleted my keepers with a couple of new knives I acquired recently from el señor Ragnar at Ragweed Forge.  Neither knife is what you’d call a bona fide fish filleting knife.  One knife is called The Craftsman and the other the Sports Knife.

The Craftsman is a basic stainless steel Mora knife with a 4 1/8 inch long blade that’s .079 inch thick.  The handle is robust with a very slight guard.

The Sports Knife is also stainless steel and smaller than the Craftsman with about a 3 ¾ inch blade that’s .078 inch thick.  The handle is shorter and it comes in various colors.  It has a distinct double guard and this feature actually comes in handy when filleting slimy fish.  You’ll note this knife also has a pronounced “sticker” or clip with a sharp point.

But these knives are designed for other chores and as such some people might suspect they make poor filleting tools.  Well, yes and no, I guess.  The Craftsman is perhaps a bit too bulky for proper filleting but the little Sports Knife does a good job.  At least it did a good enough job on what I caught and the knife took less than fifteen dollars from my wallet.  Buy a “proper” fillet knife and you’ll spend twice as much.  That’s no big deal unless you ask, “Do I really need more?”  That’s something you’ll have to answer for yourself.  I weighed the pros and cons and, at least for now, am content with both knives…favoring the Sports Knife somewhat over the Craftsman.  My only critique is that I don't care for the term “sports knife.”

Dawn appears beyond the bay not in sequential steps but as if a switch was abruptly flicked.  The first light is nothing more than a hint of change.  But it does not come on gradually.  You look and a second before it was pitch black and now you notice color—an anemic pink with hints of orange and if you had not paid attention you would not have noticed.  It is simply not there one second and there the next.  From the boat docks about a mile to the south comes the first noise.  Judging from the noise you’d think a race was on.  And so the quiet is gone and will stay gone until all “the sportsmen” have buzzed about racing from one point to another.  Then the night will return and they will party or drive home and be happy or disappointed depending on whether they caught fish or not.  Much camaraderie, a toast and then another to success or failure or for no reason at all.  Let’s race over there and then over there, and when the sun disappears they do too.  So I will walk the long pier and sit and take possession of the night.  Listening to seagulls chirping and waves sloshing, and thinking about things in particular and nothing in general.  The hours slip by like schools of fish coming into the light.  Last night it was speckled trout.  Tonight it will be red drum.