Adjusting to America

Angling a la American

fissing bookI did not have any chance to go fishing until I came to America. I observed angling and anglers at the distance. And I could never understand their love about silent sitting by the riverbank and thorough observation of a bob. However, now I do not speak about it. There is definitely some beauty in this kind of relaxation and it is understandable for people all over the world, including America. However, everyone gets ready for such an event differently. Americans have their own regulating rules that have a single philosophy as the basis: to do everything substantially and in accordance with instructions. The idea to make a simple fishing pole just of a somewhat broken suitable spring with a piece of tied up fish line will not even enter the head of an American. To go angling you need to possess a corresponding angling outfit. A Russian can easily manage without doodles or with an inventiveness, so characteristic to him, will find some replacement, making for instance a tailor-machine out of a vacuum sweeper or vice versa. Everything depends on what he needs at the moment in this situation. At the same time, an American uses everything in accordance with its direct usage. God forbid one to suggest to him to open a can with a knife!

Therefore, let us go back to angling. The idea to combine weekend entertainment with a useful did hit my husband's head as we had watched a market show about how to fish. Imagine a huge aquarium and several pretty heavy fishes swimming within it, and there on the very top, on a wood boat like platform, stand a chap and show us how to fish correctly. Here, he throws a troll into the water, it slowly passes along the fish, and fish does not show a bit of reaction to the troll. However, at some twelfth attempt the smallest fish nibbled. We decided to make use of our knowledge obtained at the market, and spend a hot day by the river and, if lucky enough, have some fresh fish for a dinner at night.

One day before the trip we went to a shop after fitting. We had to buy some odds, ends and a rod for me. First we went after the license. We bought two for each - one for saltwater fishing, another for freshwater one. Finally we were in a grand store full of tourist and sport equipment. We found shelves containing fish requisites. To say that Russian angler can get lost in such an exposure, means say nothing. He won't even realize at first where he is. How much unfamiliar it is here for a common man not accustomed to comfort. Anyway, the purpose of an inflatable sofa for camping I could guess myself. After all, why not to sit by the river on an air-sofa? Somehow, I could not get how to use a hollow tube with one end sharpened. My husband stirred my imagination asking pointing questions, giving clues, but a solution never entered my mind. The explanation was surprisingly simple. The tube is to be stuck into the ground and to hold a rod. Thus the hands of an angler are free. I tried to imagine our Russian male sitting on the air-sofa next to such tube with a perfect rod raising out of it, and I could not. A casual snag, stick, even stone instead of sofa and a pole holder are closer and sweeter to my heart. We bought two of those hollow tubes, the rod with spinning reel, plenty of hooks of various sizes and many more other sapient fishing fittings, a special case for supplies and a book - "Manual of angling in the North Florida". Speaking about books, I better bring up some details. There are plenty and more of various instructions, manuals and guidebooks in America. If a strange at first sight idea to grow Lilliputian trees at home or to make a coffer of sea shucks enters your mind, then do not start admiring your own originality - you will find a special manual here for everything.

For the people with a taste for fishing I found a breathtaking manual to make lures. Insects of all kinds possible, made of wires and fish line, appeared so attractive on colorful pictures, that it was even hurtful to imagine that some unpretentious bream can easily gulp down this amazing and delicate piece of art. We did not buy that book with nice cover or the sofa. We managed with the common guidelines on how, where and what to fish, brought along folding chairs, and set off for fishing. Speaking about bait, then we bought a couple of pounds of shrimp sold not far from the fishing place. By the way, in the same shop there was fresh crude fish for sale, and it was even cheaper than shrimps, but catching something on your own rod gives more pleasure, then buying.

The rivers of Florida are full of various big and small fish. Americans do not release any pollutants into their native water reservoirs and do not go in for fishing in the illegal modes. They fish not because they are being starved to death, but for entertaining. Also, they do not always cook the fish they caught, because they are too lazy to muddle with it. They just throw it away, and not always back into water. I saw bodies of fish rotting just at the bank. Though, I believe the great majority of Americans cook fish, as in the same shop my eyes caught a view of a beautiful book - the guidebook on the cooking of fish caught, as well as a set of knives provided for the scaling of fish.

I understand that you are in a hurry to find out how the fishing itself proceeded. At first our shrimps set on hooks were ignored, and some speculations started entering my mind. I questioned myself- "May be, the instruction is not written for our river, or the river lives a life of its own not described in the book? Or… that, probably, which is less believable…but anyway…- this idea did not give me any peace-… my husband (terror!) does not follow instructions!" At the same time, at the very same place some of the anglers were sitting next to us, sometimes pulling from the water their gain.

The world under the water was, however, inhabited and even very active. Fish paddled near the bank showing us their shiny backs. The shrimps, finally, were ordered too and started disappearing from the hook. Sometimes fish very deliberately left a piece of delicacy at the very hook. Under-water occupants glorified! Us, those convicted to exist in the air space, were dying of heat. Air temperature was close to 104F (40C) degrees. Finally, I felt something pulling the fish line. Here it was! My husband reacted to my hollers in an extremely relaxed way- "You just caught some snag." He took the rod from my hand and started to wind carefully the fish line back to reel. Finally, a silver body of fish appeared from under the water, and so it was already on the bank. Its shape resembled that of a bream, just the fins were of some venomous yellow color. Warren snatched the book and started turning pages trying to find a similar picture among fish drawings there. Now the angler, who placed his fit-outs nearby approached us and told that our fish was not very delicious. It had too many bones and too much blood. The flesh was brown and smelled a lot. Warren carefully freed the fish off the hook and threw it back to water.

Later he caught pretty sizable fish. We found its picture in the book and it again appeared to be inedible. I started doubting reliability of the book. What these spoilt Americans will reason out! (Much later, when my husband and I started visiting my native town and my kin bought for the table a delicatessen and expensive lamprey, I found out that in America this fish is considered to be a trash. It is not eaten due to its nauseous inclination to feed on corpses.) That evening for the supper we had a steak out of a freezer. Definitely, after the fishing we felt like eating someone of under-water world, but we did not grieve and, thoroughly chewing mild meet of a cow, started discussing our plans for the next trip. After the shrimps…

Nadezhda Shchukina

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