My buddy Gary calls me late at night saying there is some action I should take at first light. I tell him I’ll come around before daybreak, but he knows better; that there is little chance I’ll leave my bed at that hour of the morning just to surprise a few spooky flathead (platycephalus indicus). Sure enough, I don’t stir until 8 a.m., after which I drag myself to the car for the 20-minute drive to Chigasaki Port.
It’s a bright weekday morning, and I find myself mumbling, “It’s Tuesday. People work on Tuesday.” Something feels odd, although I don’t immediately put my finger on exactly what. When I lay eyes on the empty shoreline, I realize it’s feeling alone and idle in one of the fastest paced, most densely populated places on earth.
Today, I’m a non-functioning cog of the machinery. There’s no one else here except Gary, who I can make out about a half click away. On Sundays this beach hums like the Copa Cabana, but less than 48 hours later it’s like the shore of a deserted island, and here I am.
Bewilderment aside, it’s a clear slack tide, a light offshore breeze, and the waves are gently lapping against the sand – all potential signs of good things to come. Gary has already landed a few small flathead that have been striking intermittently at tiny lipless minnows.I arrived toward the end of the bite, and I don’t have the right kind of lure in my box, but it’s no cause for concern. I’m more than content just being able to walk along on the beach, casting, with nothing in particular to do today.
As a writer, I swore I’d never make cliché statements about fishing and Zen, but I suspect the true expert shoreline anglers get into a mental state totally focused on using each cast to feel their way through the stretch of water from which they’re trying to pull a fish.
The vibration caused by the lures’ swimming motion actually transmits through the line and rod, making the tackle an extension of the person using it.
Forty minutes in, and I haven’t had so much as a nibble from these finicky predators that like to stalk their prey before eating. Gary is releasing his fifth. For him, the right amount of patience and concentration, which I don’t seem to posses on this day, are paying off.
We both know going slow is the name of the game, but Gary, a local, has the advantage of having spent a lot more time on this stretch of water, acquiring a more acute awareness of how to present his tackle to the fish.
I’m heading toward a big zero for the morning, but I’m thankful I’ve managed to organize my life around doing something I love. For now, the flathead can stay in the backwash, and maybe I’ll take a crack at it again next Tuesday if I wake up on time.