12 October 2007


Mark Dennis with his most recent catch,
a flawless striped bass
October 2007

In some alternate, perfect universe, my friend Mark Dennis does not work for a living. Instead, he does only the things that give him pleasure: he entertains his friends, he romances beautiful women, he listens to good music, he seeks out the best in food and wine and shares his discoveries with the people he loves.

And he fishes.

Indeed, I suspect that somewhere lies an alternate, nearly-perfect universe where all Mark does is fish, and the result is sufficient to provide peace and harmony that transcend him and extend to everyone, everywhere, evermore, Amen.

You can see that in the picture above. If Mark is this happy with just one fish, imagine what he’d be like with a lifetime of fish. We’d all be better off.

Here’s what Mark had to say about fishing for striped bass, in an e-mail to me the other day:
“Striped bass are surrounded by much lore. They are arguably the most prized inshore (as opposed to offshore – marlin, sailfish, tuna, etc.) game fish; they fight very hard and taste very good. They used to be quite common back in the ’60’s, but they were overfished commercially. Then commercial fishing was outlawed, and they slowly recovered. For much of our adult lives, they have been scarce, and prized all the more! I caught my first few on June 15, 1996; they were about ~18 inches, under the legal size, so I had to let them go; but it was a watershed event for me: I had become a fisher-MAN. I was fishing with a friend in my small outboard boat at night. After the tide turned and the fish stopped biting, we called it a night at about 2 AM. On the drive home, I heard two Ella songs in a row on my jazz station, WBGO. I thought the night was magic all around. When I heard the third Ella song in a row, I knew something was wrong. After the fourth, the host interrupted the music to say that Ella had died. On the very same night that I had lost my striped bass virginity and achieved a lifelong goal, one of my favorite singers had been silenced. As I crossed the bridge over the estuary where we caught the fish, the water and surrounding lands were well lit by a nearly full moon, and I felt like something of a different person.”
But not, I hope, too different.