In celebration of our 10th Anniversary, Bast Amron has asked each of our lawyers to write about their passion outside the law.
This month Bast Amron highlights Jeremy J. Hart. Jeremy has over thirty four years of experience as a commercial trial attorney and has been in numerous jury and non-jury trials in the State and Federal courts. Jeremy’s passion, described in his own words is enjoying different kinds of fishing around the world.
I was five years old when I ran into my friend, Lionel and his mother at Morgan’s Harbor, a marina in my native Kingston, Jamaica, fishing with hand lines off the end of a dock on Kingston Harbor. “Hi Jeremy. Do you want to try this?” said Lionel’s mother, well known in the island for her prowess in fishing tournaments. She baited a line and handed it to me. I looked down into the water and saw dozens of small fish darting and circling. I dropped the baited line into the water and immediately there was a tug as a small jack crevalle took the bait. But it wasn’t just the fish that was hooked; I was hooked too and hooked for life. The sight of the small sleek shapes gliding, twisting and turning below, the sunlight flashing off their slim, silver bodies and the urgent tugging on my line introduced me to a fascinating new world which I have never left.
The small jack was soon subdued. “No good to eat” said Lionel’s mom as she unhooked and dismissed the little fish back to the water. We caught a few more fish before my parents came looking for me and took me home. But that morning, something began for me that has never ended.
Since then, I have enjoyed different kinds of fishing in many parts of the world. I have fly fished in trout streams out west and in the UK. I have surf casted for bluefish and striped bass in New England, fished off the beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast for snook, redfish and mackerel, have stalked giant tarpon in Boca Grande and have gone deep sea fishing in Jamaica, Belize, Florida and Panama. Some of these forms of fishing are quite expensive, but you don’t need money to fish. I can derive the same pleasure from any beach, river or lake.
There have been some truly exciting moments. The sudden screaming of the reel as a marlin seizes the trolled bait and dashes for the horizon, leaping and shaking. On one occasion I was fishing off the south coast of Jamaica in a fisherman’s canoe. Just as I was boating a small bonito I had caught on an ultralight rod, a marlin grabbed it almost out of my hand. The marlin had come up right behind the outboard and with a huge splash, soaking all of us in the boat, slammed the bonito with its bill, grabbed it and headed straight down. It took only seconds for all of the eight pound line on the tiny reel to go screeching off and part with a snap like a pistol shot.
Fishing is thrilling but that is only one reason why I love it. Part of the attraction is the intellectual exercise of thinking through how to tempt the fish to bite. Different fish and different conditions require different approaches. Strangely enough, dark days usually require dark lures; the brighter the day, the more garish the lure. Fly fishing for trout requires using a dry fly that matches the flies hovering over the stream; or a wet fly which sinks and rises to match the nymphs (fly larvae) hatching in the stones of the stream bed. Close attention to tide, wind, light and knowledge of your prey’s diet are crucial. Knowing where fish are likely to congregate given the conditions, will make catching much more likely than just fishing.
An example comes to mind. Many years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to go fishing for swordfish off the coast of Cape Cod. I was interested to see that the crew of the sports fisherman included a local islander. This old salt was along because only he knew how to prepare the bait, a three foot long eel and how to present it to the swordfish. We cruised about on George’s Bank, fifty miles offshore, using binoculars to scan the smooth swells for signs of swordfish. Then we spotted one. The pointed dorsal fin stuck up from the water as did its sickle shaped tail as the giant billfish slowly cruised along the surface. The old fisherman ascended to the flying bridge. From there he slowly allowed the line to which the eel was attached to slip through his fingers. He directed the captain of the boat to steer back and forth in front of the basking swordfish at a certain speed while he manipulated the eel by tugging and loosening the line. The swordfish turned, watched the eel go by. Was he interested? We made another pass. The swordfish turned again, now tracking the eel. Suddenly, with a swirl in the water, the swordfish disappeared beneath the surface. There was a flash from its silver flanks as it turned on its side, then in a sudden rush, the fish seized the eel and sounded for the bottom.
Much of the pleasure that I get from fishing comes not from the thrill of catching, but from being immersed in the natural world. Fish live in water, but we seek them from the land or from a boat. While standing on a beach, thinking out how best to present to the fish I become absorbed by nature; by the birds flying by, the little, hyperactive oyster catchers jogging along, darting in as a wave recedes to probe the wet sand for small crustaceans. Small pilchards and herrings dimple the surface while stately pelicans circle and dive. Even far out to sea, out of sight of land, there is plenty to watch. Minute marine life clusters around clumps of Sargasso weed. Frigate birds glide by and the diving of terns marks the movement of schools of tuna.
At times the high seas nature show is incredible. On one occasion off the north coast of Jamaica we saw a cloud of seabirds diving on a vast school of small shrimp. Among the shrimp was a pod of gigantic, forty foot sperm whales spouting and breaching. There were smaller, twenty foot black pilot whales and bottle nosed dolphin feasting on the shrimp which were present in such numbers that they colored the water a dark reddish purple. Sights like these are not quickly forgotten.
The combination of focusing on the methodology of fishing, being immersed in nature, while expecting a sudden exiting event, creates a mindful state that promotes tranquility. The stress of regular daily life can be put aside in favor of living in the moment, focused on what might be in the water in front of you and how to tempt it into biting. For me, the point of fishing is not to take home masses of seafood, but to relax in a calming yet potentially exiting environment. In fact, I release almost everything that I catch.
Fishing is something that I have enjoyed all my life since that chance meeting at Morgan’s Harbor in Kingston. I am glad that I have found a pastime that has such potential for thrills, yet requires so much focus on the natural world. I am truly lucky to have a passion that is so easy to pursue and which is so fulfilling and restful.
About the Author: Jeremy J. Hart’s practice includes representation of individuals and business entities in a broad range of commercial disputes in the Federal, Bankruptcy and State courts including breach of contract, a variety of bankruptcy adversary actions, real and personal property foreclosure, products liability, creditor’s rights, business torts, breach of warranty, sales of goods, injunctions and other prejudgment remedies, and real estate litigation including specific performance, quiet title actions and ejectment. Throughout his career, Jeremy has represented financial institutions in areas such as lender liability, negotiable instrument disputes, wire transfer issues (Articles 3, 4 and 4A UCC), letters of credit (Article 5 UCC), account disputes, operational advice, and the preparation of agreements including deposit agreements, wire transfer agreements, ACH agreements and agreements for new banking products. Click here to learn more about Jeremy.