A Smell of a Season - The Fisherman

A Smell of a Season

Berkley Gulp! is one heck of an invention. I guess it’s good that they’ve figured out a way to keep costs down by using thinner plastic buckets, although they don’t hold up so well to the rigors of moving from duffel bag to back pack, boat to beach, and back again; the Gulp! smell is essentially the cost of doing business on the fluke grounds every year. Many folks switched over to Tupperware; once my wife began noticing the sudden loss of re-sealable containers in the pantry, I found those screw-top canisters of pretzels and peanuts you get from the big wholesale outlets are equally effective and generally last two to three seasons going back and forth from the shed to garage to the stern hatch in the boat.

But there’s really nothing to stop my GMC from carrying the aroma of assorted Gulp! baits during the summer months, as canisters are bound to flip over and leak at some point. On at least one occasion several years back, a bucket stored in direct sunlight in my hatchback exploded, with Gulp! juice splashed from floor to ceiling with a couple of dozen baits strewn across the backseat and wedged between seat crevices. While I’ve grown accustomed to the sweet smell of fluke success while on the open road, the wife and kids would prefer to be tied to the roof rack rather than to ride shotgun in my tangy, traveling tackle box.

Since New Jersey’s fluke season came to an abrupt close in September, I’ve been driving a lot with the windows open given the less oppressive temperatures, and the Gulp! smell has nearly disappeared. It’s a short window of familial travel pleasure of course, as these next few months will usher in a new season of heady scents, that of woolen socks and damp waders (best described as a cross between wet dog and “honey I think there’s something dead behind the wall.”). It’s a little more pungent than Gulp!, but in a rather savory way that only a surfcaster can truly appreciate.

I really do my best to cut the odor for those unlucky enough to need a lift someplace, though I’m typically a friend’s last resort for an airport pickup. From time to time I’ll hang those stinky little Christmas trees from hooks in the backseat when things get really rank, and have actively employed as many as four car vent clips at one time. I actually like mixing varied scents at once, a little fresh Twist Cranberry, Fall Pumpkin, Cut Pine and Moonlight Breeze for a cacophony of bouquet – I like to think of it as the scent of the barren roads from Chatsworth to Vineland in the middle of a crisp, autumn evening. If it’s a good fall – and I’m fairly confident that it will be – that Piney Potpourri will be cut with some fresh striper fragrance, a good 20-pounder or two tossed in back following a few successful jetty jaunts this month.

Sadly, the smells of the season dissipate towards the end of the year as another winter show season arrives, with days and weekends spent at convention centers and exhibition halls with fewer opportunities to wet a line. With a solid three months to air out, my abused little vehicle gets a bit fresher during the colder months, although there have been times when the light wafting of a sandwich left in a canyon bag or leaking tube of forgotten shedder oil will attract my attention to the gear box in back once the heat and defroster are cranked up after the first deep freeze.

And as much as I love those squalid smells of summer and fall, I’ll be the first to admit that spring ain’t exactly pleasant. Wet dog and sweaty gym sock is one thing, but dead bunker and rotten clam – staples of the spring striper run –that’s even a little too much for me to ride with myself. I still have an old burlap sack from an April clamming session lying under an assortment of tackle trays in the back; it’s not that I’m lazy, I’m just afraid of that first putrid blast once I start pulling everything out to get down to it.

Let’s just call that a good winter project in between shows!


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