July: Alone on the Dock o' the Bay

Babes In Boyland, a Mad In Pursuit Diary


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On my travels I have learned that occasionally, like Blanche DuBois in Streetcar Named Desire, I must depend on the “kindness of strangers.” But at home I say to hell with that. 

fishing dreamLast week Maria and I finally convinced Malone to take us fishing. We actually had him pinned down to a date and time and Malone was going to find us a special fishing hole. 

Last fall we learned about how the creeks and streams fill up with salmon and steelhead (not that we caught any), but this time of year the action is in the ponds and lakes. We were ready to learn some more. 

At the last minute – surprise – Malone disappeared on us and we wound up drowning our disappointment in margaritas with the girls at a bar down the street from work. Good for giggles but the day was breezy and gorgeous and I would have rather been on the water than in a bar. Damn that Malone.

I couldn’t shake the feeling of restlessness and abandonment

I couldn’t shake the feeling of restlessness and abandonment, the sense that there was adventure to be had – a thrill hidden just below the surface – and that people like Malone were keeping me from it. Maria was no help: other obligations distracted her. And I started wishing I had a boat, because boats put you where the fish are and people with boats always have friends. 

The Fourth of July holiday was muggy and threatened thunderstorms so I limited myself to hiking along the banks of the fishless Irondequoit Creek. I wanted to jump in – splash! – and be the fish myself, exploring my way up to Irondequoit Bay, slithering over the rocks and plunging into the deep holes. I wanted a walking stick and river shoes for the shallow parts, a mask and snorkel for the deeper areas. The creek and its tiny tributaries pass through all sorts of suburban wilderness, inaccessible on dry land – an adventure into the unknown. 

But the sensible part of me said, no, no, too dangerous to do alone – I could fall or get caught in a tangle of submerged branches – a broken ankle, a concussion – I could be history. Damn. 

By Friday my frustration level was high. There had to be more to life than staring at a computer screen for work and play. In the old mythologies the hero gets called to adventure, but this hero’s phone was dead. And what is adventure anyway? For me, this week, it only meant not being a victim of my own inertia and not waiting around for moody guides and busy friends. 

So I took off work early, threw my fishing gear in the trunk and headed for the bait shop. I wanted nothing more than a nap and told myself, all you need to do is buy the worms – if that’s all you do, you’ll be ready for fishing tomorrow – just buy the worms

In the old mythologies the hero gets called to adventure, but this hero’s phone was dead.

The bait shop is on the south end Irondequoit Bay, off Lake Ontario. The afternoon was sunny and the air that perfect temperature between slightly cool and barely warm. I scouted around. Two old black gents were out fishing on one of the docks. It reminded me that poor city-dwellers go fishing all the time without having to own a boat. 

In the shop I bought my nightcrawlers and was turning away when a voice in my head screamed: You’re not going home and taking a nap! You’re HERE! 

I turned back to the clerk. “Hey, is it all right if I go fishing off your dock?” 


And in two minutes, there I was, like the song says, sittin’ on the dock o’ the bay… wastin’ time. Remember that song? It haunted me during the summer of 1968 when I was a school girl on the north coast of Spain. I was with a group from college and we bustled around town in organized activities. Yes, we’d go to the beach but – the song ran through my head – that wasn’t the same as sittin’ on the dock o’ the bay. That’s what I secretly longed to do, but as 20-year-olds we traveled in packs and spread our towels on beaches... 

Yank! I actually caught a fish. Its tug on my line knocked me out of my Spanish daydream. A little perch. I let him go and felt on top of the world. 

A man walked with his small son out to the end of the dock. 

“What do you usually catch out here?” he asked. 

“Me? Oh-h-h, I usually catch perch.” 

My fishing ended when the line got all tangled around the spindle underneath the reel. But by that time I was relaxed and sat there in the breezy late afternoon taking it apart and putting it back together. I was in charge and that Blanche DuBois feeling faded away.


Irondequoit Bay, Planning & Development. Monroe County NY

Irondequoit Bay Fishing

Irondequoit Bay. Monroe County Parks Dept.

Irondequoit Bay Bass Anglers