Friday, June 5, 2009

FRIDAY FUN…BOBBER

In case you’re not familiar with fishing paraphernalia…a bobber is a small float an angler clips to the line to suspend his baited hook at a desired depth. Bobbers come in different shapes and sizes. While some are fashioned from cork, balsawood, even porcupine quill, most are round and made of plastic. Red-over-white is the traditional color scheme. Fishermen are forever losing bobbers. Their hook snags in a log, fouls among rocks, catches on underwater weeds—or perhaps gets entangled in the rusting hulk of a ’59 Chevy someone ditched in the creek decades ago. When the angler yanks too hard trying to pull things free, the line breaks. He loses not only his hook and sinker, but also his bobber—which may stay attached to the lost portion of fishing line, visibly marking the spot of the mishap; alternately, the bobber may slip off the line and go drifting away, across the lake or pond, downstream if set free on a creek or river. I always think these little lost bobbers look rather forlorn, like tiny round red-and-white clad workers suddenly let go of their jobs—a bit lost and at odds as to their future place and worth. As a kid I used to collect lost bobbers. When my father and I went fishing, I’d try and rescue any bobbers I found along the stream or lake. If we were in a boat, Dad—catering to my concerns, and being something of a bobber-liberator himself—would row me close enough that I could lean over the bow and grab my prize. I kept my found bobbers in the basement, clipped to a long length of old flyline tacked between ceiling joists above the workbench. My colorful collection took up several feet and easily numbered in the hundreds—though both Dad and I both plucked bobbers from the string whenever we needed a few for our tackle boxes. A lost bobber still strikes me as a bit pathetic, floating there, unused, unloved, as if waiting for the right soft-hearted fool to come along. There’s no fool like an old fool. I’m still goofily sentimental about some pretty weird things, and I’ll still take the time and effort to retrieve a lost bobber if I can mange to do so without too much fuss. The bobber in the photo must have known my leanings, understood—as much as an inanimate object can understand—that I would welcome it, pluck it from the river, clean and dry it, and provide safe haven in a corner of my tackle box. That’s why is came to me—bobbing through the riffle…bobbing over the foot-high drop-off…bobbing along the edge of the current swirling below and into the eddy where I stood with my camera—motioning, encouraging, applauding its progress and good sense. And after taking its picture…picking it up and welcoming it home.

20 comments:

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I collected bobbers as a kid too, but never found as many as you! We kept them in a big bowl on the table at our cabin. Thanks for the sweet memory.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I am amazed how you can take a simple thing like a fishing float and make such a jolly, gentle and interesting post out of it, Scribe. I am sure your little bobber is now sitting snug and warm in the fishing box and feeling a very lucky little bobber.

Wanda said...

...something like raising a child and guiding it...then it breaks away or you have to release it...but having it return to that same safe haven some day...with you still there waiting to help guide the way...welllll...that's what I got from your sentimental story!...but I do know what a bobber is! :)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lynne…

Well, who woulda thunk…a fellow bobber collector! Isn't life amazing.

Re. my high degree of success, understand that we were a fishing family. I grew up going fishing, being around the water—all kinds of situations, lakes, ponds, creek, rivers—so I had a lot of opportunity. On a good day I might retrieve a dozen.

I'm too much a kid to forget that…or to give up the bobber retrieving urge entirely. Glad the piece reminded you of your days.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

The bobber in the photo is indeed resting peacefully in a tackle-box tray—safe and happy.

Everything has a story…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

Why am I not surprised you'd know all about bobbers?

And yes indeed…just as my door will always be open to friends and family who've been a'wanderin' or lost their way and need a home, I stand ready to assist any hapless bobber I spy.

Gail said...

Hi Griz-
Fascinating hobby, saving bobbers! huh. Can't say as I have ever saved any myself.
Great photo by the way - as usual. :-)

And I ALWAYS love to read of your childhood memories - I can picture, see, everything you write.

BTW, I collect rocks from all over the world. Does that count? :-)

Love to you
Gail
peace.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Hey, you're apparently improving!

I'm not a bobber "collector" in the sense of being, say, a baseball card card collector; more like a gatherer or retriever.

And I also pickup stones from places—especially northcountry lakeshores. I love to look for agates along Lake Superior. I have some walking sticks (and I mean a stick that you cut, peel, and employ to keep you upright on rough terrain) that dates from my late-teens, early twenties, and many of lesser vintage—so I guess you could call me a stick collector, too. Ditto for seashells, freshwater mussel shells, arrowheads, fossils, some pressed leaves and flowers, a hornet's nest or two, bones, teeth, claws, carapaces, a few bugs in bottles of preservative, the huge scales from tarpon I've caught down in the Keys and off Cuba, a bottle of sand, a small pillow stuffed with balsam needles for occasional sniffing, a rusty iron railroad spike from a ghost-haunted tunnel in the hill country, and Lord knows what else. I can hardly go somewhere without dragging something home.

So, yeah, your rocks count! Absolutely. Now keep getting well!

Deb said...

Being in an occupation that involves spending many hours on lakes and rivers from spring through fall, I always keep a lookout for bobbers, lost lures, etc. In fact, my coworkers and I have an informal contest going as to who can collect the most, and most valuable, "bounty". I don't think I'm winning though.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Deb…

You could win it here in Ohio…and here's why.

The state often lowers our lakes (they're all manmade reservoirs, as Ohio only has a couple of natural lakes) for winter dock and damage control. What you then have are miles of mud flats around the shrunken pool—with all the shallow-water stumps and logs and brushpiles exposed. And all those lost lures, sunglasses, sets of keys, and everything from false teeth to artificial limbs now in plain sight (more or less) and open to discovery. An afternoon amble in January can fill a 5-gallon bucket!

Richard said...

Got a jar in the garage for all the bobbers we've picked up over the years. Also have a box full of markers (the kind with the string and weight attached) that have been dropped but never picked up. The little bobber in the picture looks like it had some water in it since it was red side up.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Richard…

Hey, another fellow bobber picker checks in!

Nope, no water in the photo bobber—just the weight of the push-button thingy turning it over since nothing was attached to a fishing line. It was a fine, healthy bobber—too big for most of my fishing, but still small enough to be useful.

Jenn Jilks said...

I remember those! Our little bay is the receptacle for all sorts of detritus, beer can, children's plastic toys, but not any bobbers these days!

Poignant post.

Jayne said...

Ah, the saint of lost bobbers you are. How kind of you to give lost bobbers a home. There is so much metaphor here. Aren't we all just like lost bobbers at times? :c)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenn…

What is with fishermen up there in Muskoka…they don't lose bobbers? I'd think you'd find them regularly.

I'm glad you liked the post.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

Ahhhh…the Saint of Lost Bobbers. I like that! Sounds so much more dignified than Lost-Bobbers-R-Us.

And you're right. there is a lot of life—and my own—metaphor in there…

Jenn Jilks said...

We don't seem to have many fishermen these days, Griz. In the summer it is PWCers, and trolling. Our lake is only 2 km long. Gawd knows what that is in American? :-)

I had some panicky moments this w/e. What with all the tourists, and our Canada Goose family with no daddy, I worried about them. The family (Eva (mom- as in Green Acres: Eva and Eddie!), and 4 babies) haven't been around for TWO DAYS. I was so worried. They showed up today. What a relief. The goslings are growing like stink. And eating everything in sight. nature is beautiful, even in death. The cycle of life and the gene pool.
Thanks for following!
BTW
I spent 15 years taking stones and rocks from around here home to Ottawa, where I lived for 15 years. Here I am, with rocks all around, and many I left back in my favourite gardens in Ottawa. How dumb is that???
Lie good naturalists, I should have left well enough alone.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenn…

I don't know how big your lake is, either; inches, feet, miles, pounds, gallons…all mean something to me, but metric is just plain meaningless. Too old a dog to change my way of thinking.

I enjoy a lot of your photos and pieces, BTW. Have no idea why I didn't sign up to "follow" earlier—just got too much in the habit of going there own my own. You have an excellent blog.

Carrying stuff home from trips to places we enjoy is probably in the human DNA, at least for us outdoor types. Not just as souvenirs, but more in a totemic sense, part of the alchemy of place. A shell or bit of wood becomes a touchstone of where we want to be again, someday. It isn't dumb at all—it's a way of adding three-dimensional fact to memory and feeling.

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

Was doing a little research on old cork bobbers and found your blog. Loved this post and your photo. Living on a small lake that's rarely fished, except by my better half, we rarely find old fishing equipment but I did pull out a bird house the other day....lol...go figure. It now hangs in my old dogwood tree and a bird is currently building in it. :) Have a super great day. ~ Lynn

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lynn…

Hey, thanks for the nice words on the post. And I visited and liked your blog, BTW. I liked your Outer Banks photos and piece.

Cork bobbers were never very common even when I was growing up (in a fishing family) which is to say, just a few years after water was invented. I expect the red-and-white models similar to the one in my photo pretty much replaced cork. My father had a few cork bobbers in his old tackle box, probably pre-WWII, since cork was one of those products used extensively in the War Effort, and not available on the market for the duration. Cork would also have been harder to work up, and it would never hold paint well—and thus was harder to see. A bad thing for a fisherman. Plus, light as it was, it was heavier in a given size than hollow plastic. There were also balsa and quill (porcupine) bobbers around; you can still find balsa (though also hard foam) but not the quills.

I find quite a few bobbers. And have found a fair amount of fishing tackle. But never a birdhouse!

Thanks for writing—and please drop by the riverbank again. You're always welcome.

You