On Catching Fish
Sep 08 08:45
I’ve taken up fishing over the past few weeks, and am having a wonderful time learning all about the differences in hooks and bait and rigs and rods and reels and deep water and shallow water and fish that hide behind rocks and fish that like weeds and fish that just swim there, kinda dumb, snapping at whatever falls on their heads.
I even hook my own worms, which is icky.
I’ve spent hours now just watching the line, reeling the line, casting the line, watching the line and can’t remember the last time I’ve been so thoroughly relaxed.
By now, you all know I have MS, and you all know that most times I walk. People hear that and they think, “oh, so you don’t have MS too bad then,” and overall I encourage that misconception because it means people don’t try to stop me from doing things that I want to do, and can do, once I figure out how.
I can’t see all that clearly anymore out of my right eye most times. Last couple of years it was my left eye, this time the right eye’s taking a turn. And when it’s sunny or I’ve done a little bit of activity, the left eye’s not all that happy, either. So there I am, playing with needle-sharp hooks and worms and spinners and whatnot, and I learned that you do not need sharp vision to tie a hook. You just need to know that the blurry clot is a hole. And cinch knots require really big loops anyway, so no problem there, either. And I’m far-sighted, so once it’s in the water, I can usually see fine with whichever eye’s currently the ‘good’ one.
Not too long ago, I wouldn’t even have bothered trying.
I wade into the streams, lakes and rivers. I have no business doing this, it’s foolish. But I don’t care. It’s foolish because my balance is … oh, let’s say challenging. I can’t wear pretty shoes or even flip-flops. I have a pair of sandals I bought at the beginning of summer I thought would be OK. They’re pretty, with little silver discs, but they have a tiny bit of platform, and I can’t walk very far or long in them. But for fishing or general summer activities I have a pair of Keens that I call my spider shoes. They’re ugly as sin, black, and -- oh yes -- make my feet look like giant spiders. But they have a strap in back, they are snug, indestructible, and I can wear them on land or in water, so in the summer I tend to wear them everywhere. I wear that old dork vest, too, I wrote about a few summers ago, and a floppy hat, and I take my little dog with me. Although I still avoid being out for too long when the weather is scorching, which made much of this past summer a major bust, because I do generally respect my limits (when I have to).
My whole life is a balancing act. I stand on the slippery stones of can-and-cannot and dare to cast my line, because doing is so much more interesting than watching. I only take calculated risks now, and I push, but wisely. I wade in with my ugly, sensible Keens, I stand on stones and I try. I sway, I misstep, I stick myself with hooks and get tangled in lines. I fall, I come home soaked, I look a mess, but so what?
I’m catching fish.
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Sep 08 11:53
What is New Mobility coming to? First Tim Gilmer becomes a handcycling and golf fanatic--and now you are a fisher(woman? person?) uh you fish! COOL!
I love fishing because it is adaptable to a myriad of disabilities--and the rush and fun is the same.
I beg to differ on one of your statements though--in my opinion, Keens make the wearer look HOT! Pretty shoes, not so much.
Sep 09 10:47
Way to go, Josie!
Here in Montana, my co-worker and friend, Chris Clasby is part of our adaptive rec efforts (University of Montana). He's a quad who uses a sip-and-puff gun to hunt elk and deer for food, a sip-and-puff fly rod to fish, and he also goes ice fishing and camps a lot. I have another friend who is blind who also successfully hunts using assistive technology. Here at UMT we are gradually accumulating all kinds of devices, including a wheelchair accessible float boat) to assist Montanans to enjoy the outdoors, and the outdoor activities that are part of the fabric of Montana life.
So, keep getting into the outdoors, Josie, and when/if you need some assistive tech to fully enjoy the experience, I hope you get that, too.
Sep 20 06:29
Love to fish looking for group in the New Brunswick NJ area
Sep 23 11:58
You may find some good resources on fishing in New Jersey on this site: http://wheelchairfisherman.com/ I'd ask that site's owner, too, if he knows any groups near where you live, or if he knows a few people that you can help to form into a group.
And Bob ... Keens? Really? ... Now I like you even more!
Nov 02 09:09
We at Turboset want everyone to enjoy the sport of fishing. We have developed and manufacture a arm support cradle to help people with reduced hand and arm strenghth "Get out and enjoy some fishing".
We assist recreational therapy depts. in Hospitals and V.A. Med Ctrs.
Please let us know if we can help your organization.