UN LANCE PARA EL RECUERDO

UN LANCE PARA EL RECUERDO
26/07/2017
De todos los escenarios que he tenido la suerte de conocer y pescar a lo largo de mi vida el río es, sin lugar a dudas, el más especial para mí, ya que fue el lugar donde nació mi locura por este deporte y viví esas sensaciones que, desde el instante inicial de la primera batalla con un pez, sabía que me habían atrapado para siempre.
 
Innumerables son los recuerdos que conservo de mis salidas de pesca en este entorno tan bello como exigente y cambiante, sometido a cambios de nivel repentinos y a modificaciones de sus estructuras y coberturas provocados por las crecidas que, cual niño que trastea con su juguetes favoritos, pone y hace desaparecer a su capricho apostaderos aquí y allá, obligando al pescador a comenzar desde cero en la búsqueda de los mejores lugares para localizar y engañar al diablillo verde.
 
Y, de todas estas jornadas, recuerdo con especial intensidad la vivida este mismo año en un nublado y fresco día del mes de febrero, tan loco y variable en lo climático como el comportamiento de los basses, en especial las grandes hembras en prefreza, que barruntan días más cálidos y una creciente abundancia de comida, alternando días de gran actividad con otros de apatía total.
 
Todo comenzaba con una llamada a un par de amigos para compartir lances, Iván García y Abel Masero, que se animaron sin dudarlo ante la perspectiva de poder engañar a algún buen bass en una de las innumerables tablas del rio Guadiana, auténtico paraíso para la pesca de depredadores que, lamentablemente, sufre durante los últimos años la invasión del camalote hasta el punto de que en algunas de ellas es totalmente imposible divisar tan siquiera unos centímetros de agua, con el daño que ello conlleva a las especies de peces y animales que lo habitan.
 
La tabla elegida había sido limpiada parcialmente en las últimas semanas, lo que unido a la merma que esta planta sufre durante los meses más gélidos del año, nos permitiría pescar gran parte de sus orillas por lo que, tras preparar los patos y pertrecharnos adecuadamente con todas las prendas de abrigo que teníamos a mano, comenzamos una jornada de pesca invernal que no olvidaríamos fácilmente.
 
Ni Abel ni Iván conocían la tabla por lo que, previamente, les expliqué los lugares que me habían proporcionado buenas capturas la semana anterior y les indique aquellos datos que conocía del lugar por si les resultaban de ayuda (posiciones de árboles sumergidos, algueros, escalones, etc) y, sin más dilación, nos pusimos manos a la obra basando nuestras opciones iniciales en dos señuelos básicos, el jig y el jerk duro.
 
No tardó mucho en llegar la primera picada, Abel colocó su jerk en paralelo a una concentración de camalote de la que sobresalía la punta de una rama sumergida y, tras un par de toques, un bass cogió su señuelo, aunque no con la suficiente determinación como para quedar trabado y, aunque fuese una picada fallida, la premura con la que sucedió nos daba a entender que los peces podrían estar bastante receptivos, pero nada mas lejos de la realidad.
 
Se sucedieron los lances peinando a conciencia las zonas que, a nuestro entender, resultaban más querenciosas, sin resultado alguno hasta que, en un alguero situado a escasos metros de unos árboles semisumergidos y que cortaba el flujo de la corriente del río, tras colocar mi jig en la parte más espesa de la mancha, noté un ligerísimo toque, que más bien pareciera el roce con una pequeña piedrecilla.
 
Cómo la experiencia me ha enseñado que los peces pueden ser extremadamente salvajes o sumamente sutiles cuando toman el señuelo, en función de mil factores (grado de actividad, presión de pesca, etc) y que sólo se dispone de unas décimas de segundos para reaccionar, decidí que lo más sensato era clavar, ya que lo peor que podría ocurrir es que realizase una clavada al vacío que sirviese de anécdota para los siguientes minutos y, para mi fortuna, la línea comenzó a silvar y a desplazarse hacia el cauce del río a toda velocidad, síndrome inequívoco de que al otro lado de la línea había vida, y además parecía un buen ejemplar.
 
Tras una lucha breve, pero intensa, conseguía introducir en la sacadera la primera captura de la jornada, un precioso bass que pasó por poco la barrera de los 2 kg, nos daba la primera gran alegría del día y nos cargaba las baterías para seguir intentándolo aún con más ganas, aunque los peces estaban dispuestos a poner a prueba nuestra paciencia.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ya habían transcurrido un par de horas desde la captura sin que ninguno de los tres, a pesar de tocar las zonas más prometedores, hubiese tenido el más nimio indicio de actividad, y ya se acercaba la hora de comenzar el retorno hasta los coches y hacer un breve receso para reponer fuerzas con un buen almuerzo, descansar unos instantes y calentar la temperatura de pies y manos que, tras toda la mañana expuestos a las bajas temperaturas, ya comenzaban a resentirse.
 
 
Puesto que debíamos tocar las mismas zonas en el regreso que acabábamos de tocar tan sólo unos minutos antes sin resultado, regresábamos muy cercanos unos a otros charlando animadamente y, entre quejas por lo difíciles que se habían mostrado los peces y las risas generadas por algunas de las anéctodas que unos y otros íbamos relatando, lanzábamos a lo largo de toda la orilla peinándola al milímetro, incluso lanzando de forma consecutiva, casi por mera mecánica, a las posturas más atractivas.
 
 
No parecía este el mejor modo de proceder para conseguir una gran captura, tanto por los antecedentes de las últimas horas como por las circunstancias en las que estábamos pescando, sin embargo la pesca y los basses tenían una buena lección preparada para nosotros, y es que en cualquier lance, hasta en las situaciones menos halagüeñas, se puede producir una gran captura.
 
 
Nuestra memoria fotográfica, haciendo honor a su nombre, congela y graba a fuego en nuestra mente ciertos momentos que nos resultan impactantes, tanto positivos como negativos, lo que nos permite revivirlos con total nitidez muchos años después de que acaeciesen y, lo que sucedió a continuación, se quedó grabado a fuego en mi retina…
 
Iván, Abel y yo nos encontrábamos frente a un gran árbol caído junto a la orilla y situado de frente a la trayectoria de la corriente del río, cubierto en gran parte por camalote y con una gran masa de juncos que se adentraban varios metros en el río situados tras el. Puesto que es una postura evidente, Iván que iba en primer lugar realizó un par de buenos lances con su jig, ajustado a la parte del árbol desprovista de vegetación sin resultado alguno. Tras el iba situado Abel, que realizó un lance muy similar con el mismo señuelo y el mismo resultado.
 
Tras ambos iba colocado yo y, mientras charlaba distendidamente con ellos, realicé un lance al mismo lugar que ambos, dejando que mi señuelo cayese al fondo y manteniéndolo inmóvil durante unos instantes. Puesto que ambos habían tanteado la misma postura y que íbamos realmente cerca unos de otros y hablando no esperaba resultado alguno, sin embargo al mover mi caña por primera vez noté, tal y como ya me sucediera unas horas antes, un pequeño golpecito muy sutil. La reacción en este caso fue clavar de inmediato y, de nuevo la línea salía disparada hacia aguas abiertas pasando realmente cerca de uno de mis costados.
 
 
Tan rápido pasó por mi lado que sólo pude intuir la silueta de un pez que, a simple vista, parecía bastante largo y que tiraba con una fuerza brutal, lo que me hizo sospechar que se trataba de un buen barbo. Tras unos segundos de lucha, que más bien pareciesen año, y en los que el pez ponía a prueba a mi equipo continuamente con carreras hacia el fondo y hacia los lados a gran velocidad, por fin se acercaba a mi posición y, por primera vez, la línea comenzó a dirigirse hacia la superficie cambiando totalmente mis esquemas y haciendo que, por primera vez durante toda la pelea, me plantease la posibilidad de haber clavado un gran bass.
 
La incertidumbre no duro más que unos segundos, tiempo tras el cual una enorme boca rompía la superficie del agua y uno de los basses más grandes que he podido ver en mi vida, saltaba a tan sólo un metro de mi posición haciendo que la adrenalina se disparase al máximo puesto que, si capturar un pez de esas dimensiones es el sueño de todo pescador, conseguirlo en el río, donde estos peces son realmente difíciles y escasos, y desde el pato, medio en el que se viven de manera especialmente intensa cada una de las sensaciones que produce la pelea con el pez, hacía su captura algo realmente especial, aunque todavía quedaban los últimos instantes de la batalla, momento en el que tantos grandes peces nos han ganado la batalla dejándonos con la miel en los labios y esa mezcla de sensaciones formada por esas malas vibraciones del sueño casi conseguido y que se escapa de entre los dedos y esas ganas irrefrenables de seguir aprendiendo y mejorando para volver a intentarlo y ganar la revancha.
 
Como digno adversario el bass jugó sus últimas bazas intentando pasarse por debajo del pato y dirigiéndose hacia la cobertura que estaba a tan solo unos metros, pero en esta ocasión la diosa fortuna estaría de mi parte, me tocó ganar la batalla. El pez ya se encontraba dentro de la sacadera y sus dimensiones eran enormes, a pesar de que no estaba especialmente rechoncho, puesto que en estas fechas las grandes hembras suelen comenzar sus primeros desplazamientos tras el largo invierno en busca de comida.
 
Por fin llegaba el momento de sacarlo de la sacadera y pesarlo. Tras verlo con detenimiento puedo decir, sin temor a equivocarme, que es el bass mas grande que jamás he visto en directo en España, con unas fauces monstruosas y unas dimensiones espectaculares, una auténtica maravilla de la naturaleza que tuve la fortuna de poder pescar y la captura que más me enorgullece como pescador.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Unas cuantas fotos rápidas para no hacer sufrir al pez más de lo necesario y un par de pesadas, en las que paró la báscula en los 3150 gramos, y de nuevo devuelto al agua para seguir creciendo y volver a hacer disfrutar a otro pescador en un futuro de un momento realmente único.
 
Tras esta captura tocaba el momento de comer y aprovechar después las últimas horas de la tarde, donde aun podríamos capturar algunos buenos basses más, incluso un enorme bass de 2,500 g conseguido por Iván que redondearon un día de pesca realmente increíble.
 
 
Espero que hayáis disfrutado de esta crónica en la que os he intentado transmitir, aunque sea en parte, las sensaciones que pude vivir con la captura de ese gran pez ya que, en mi opinión,estas vivencias y capturas deben ser compartidas con los demás compañeros de afición por si pueden servir de algo y se que conocéis y valoráis como yo estos momentos.
 
 
Os la dedico especialmente a vosotros, Iván y Abel, ya que sin los amigos que comparten contigo estas vivencias no tendrían el mismo valor.
 
 
Un abrazo a todos compañeros.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Health Care Reform - Why Are People So Worked Up?

First, let's get a little historical perspective on American health care. This is not intended to be an exhausted look into that history but it will give us an appreciation of how the health care system and our expectations for it developed. What drove costs higher and higher? To begin, let's turn to the American civil war. In that war, dated tactics and the carnage inflicted by modern weapons of the era combined to cause ghastly results. Not generally known is that most of the deaths on both sides of that war were not the result of actual combat but to what happened after a battlefield wound was inflicted. To begin with, evacuation of the wounded moved at a snail's pace and this caused severe delays in treating the wounded. Secondly, many wounds were subjected to wound care, related surgeries and/or amputations of the affected limbs and this often resulted in the onset of massive infection. So you might survive a battle wound only to die at the hands of medical care providers who although well-intentioned, their interventions were often quite lethal. High death tolls can also be ascribed to everyday sicknesses and diseases in a time when no antibiotics existed. In total something like 600,000 deaths occurred from all causes, over 2% of the U.S. population at the time! Let's skip to the first half of the 20th century for some additional perspective and to bring us up to more modern times. After the civil war there were steady improvements in American medicine in both the understanding and treatment of certain diseases, new surgical techniques and in physician education and training. But for the most part the best that doctors could offer their patients was a "wait and see" approach. Medicine could handle bone fractures and increasingly attempt risky surgeries (now largely performed in sterile surgical environments) but medicines were not yet available to handle serious illnesses. The majority of deaths remained the result of untreatable conditions such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, scarlet fever and measles and/or related complications. Doctors were increasingly aware of heart and vascular conditions, and cancer but they had almost nothing with which to treat these conditions. This very basic review of American medical history helps us to understand that until quite recently (around the 1950's) we had virtually no technologies with which to treat serious or even minor ailments. Here is a critical point we need to understand; "nothing to treat you with means that visits to the doctor if at all were relegated to emergencies so in such a scenario costs are curtailed. The simple fact is that there was little for doctors to offer and therefore virtually nothing to drive health care spending. A second factor holding down costs was that medical treatments that were provided were paid for out-of-pocket, meaning by way of an individuals personal resources. There was no such thing as health insurance and certainly not health insurance paid by an employer. Except for the very destitute who were lucky to find their way into a charity hospital, health care costs were the responsibility of the individual. What does health care insurance have to do with health care costs? Its impact on health care costs has been, and remains to this day, absolutely enormous. When health insurance for individuals and families emerged as a means for corporations to escape wage freezes and to attract and retain employees after World War II, almost overnight a great pool of money became available to pay for health care. Money, as a result of the availability of billions of dollars from health insurance pools, encouraged an innovative America to increase medical research efforts. More Americans became insured not only through private, employer sponsored health insurance but through increased government funding that created Medicare and Medicaid (1965). In addition funding became available for expanded veterans health care benefits. Finding a cure for almost anything has consequently become very lucrative. This is also the primary reason for the vast array of treatments we have available today. I do not wish to convey that medical innovations are a bad thing. Think of the tens of millions of lives that have been saved, extended, enhanced and made more productive as a result. But with a funding source grown to its current magnitude (hundreds of billions of dollars annually) upward pressure on health care costs are inevitable. Doctor's offer and most of us demand and get access to the latest available health care technology in the form of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostic tools and surgical procedures. So the result is that there is more health care to spend our money on and until very recently most of us were insured and the costs were largely covered by a third-party (government, employers). Add an insatiable and unrealistic public demand for access and treatment and we have the "perfect storm" for higher and higher health care costs. And by and large the storm is only intensifying. At this point, let's turn to the key questions that will lead us into a review and hopefully a better understanding of the health care reform proposals in the news today. Is the current trajectory of U.S. health care spending sustainable? Can America maintain its world competitiveness when 16%, heading for 20% of our gross national product is being spent on health care? What are the other industrialized countries spending on health care and is it even close to these numbers? When we add politics and an election year to the debate, information to help us answer these questions become critical. We need to spend some effort in understanding health care and sorting out how we think about it. Properly armed we can more intelligently determine whether certain health care proposals might solve or worsen some of these problems. What can be done about the challenges? How can we as individuals contribute to the solutions? The Obama health care plan is complex for sure - I have never seen a health care plan that isn't. But through a variety of programs his plan attempts to deal with a) increasing the number of American that are covered by adequate insurance (almost 50 million are not), and b) managing costs in such a manner that quality and our access to health care is not adversely affected. Republicans seek to achieve these same basic and broad goals, but their approach is proposed as being more market driven than government driven. Let's look at what the Obama plan does to accomplish the two objectives above. Remember, by the way, that his plan was passed by congress, and begins to seriously kick-in starting in 2014. So this is the direction we are currently taking as we attempt to reform health care. Through insurance exchanges and an expansion of Medicaid,the Obama plan dramatically expands the number of Americans that will be covered by health insurance. To cover the cost of this expansion the plan requires everyone to have health insurance with a penalty to be paid if we don't comply. It will purportedly send money to the states to cover those individuals added to state-based Medicaid programs. To cover the added costs there were a number of new taxes introduced, one being a 2.5% tax on new medical technologies and another increases taxes on interest and dividend income for wealthier Americans. The Obama plan also uses concepts such as evidence-based medicine, accountable care organizations, comparative effectiveness research and reduced reimbursement to health care providers (doctors and hospitals) to control costs. The insurance mandate covered by points 1 and 2 above is a worthy goal and most industrialized countries outside of the U.S. provide "free" (paid for by rather high individual and corporate taxes) health care to most if not all of their citizens. It is important to note, however, that there are a number of restrictions for which many Americans would be culturally unprepared. Here is the primary controversial aspect of the Obama plan, the insurance mandate. The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided to hear arguments as to the constitutionality of the health insurance mandate as a result of a petition by 26 states attorney's general that congress exceeded its authority under the commerce clause of the U.S. constitution by passing this element of the plan. The problem is that if the Supreme Court should rule against the mandate, it is generally believed that the Obama plan as we know it is doomed. This is because its major goal of providing health insurance to all would be severely limited if not terminated altogether by such a decision. As you would guess, the taxes covered by point 3 above are rather unpopular with those entities and individuals that have to pay them. Medical device companies, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors and insurance companies all had to "give up" something that would either create new revenue or would reduce costs within their spheres of control. As an example, Stryker Corporation, a large medical device company, recently announced at least a 1,000 employee reduction in part to cover these new fees. This is being experienced by other medical device companies and pharmaceutical companies as well. The reduction in good paying jobs in these sectors and in the hospital sector may rise as former cost structures will have to be dealt with in order to accommodate the reduced rate of reimbursement to hospitals. Over the next ten years some estimates put the cost reductions to hospitals and physicians at half a trillion dollars and this will flow directly to and affect the companies that supply hospitals and doctors with the latest medical technologies. None of this is to say that efficiencies will not be realized by these changes or that other jobs will in turn be created but this will represent painful change for a while. It helps us to understand that health care reform does have an effect both positive and negative. Finally, the Obama plan seeks to change the way medical decisions are made. While clinical and basic research underpins almost everything done in medicine today, doctors are creatures of habit like the rest of us and their training and day-to-day experiences dictate to a great extent how they go about diagnosing and treating our conditions. Enter the concept of evidence-based medicine and comparative effectiveness research. Both of these seek to develop and utilize data bases from electronic health records and other sources to give better and more timely information and feedback to physicians as to the outcomes and costs of the treatments they are providing. There is great waste in health care today, estimated at perhaps a third of an over 2 trillion dollar health care spend annually. Imagine the savings that are possible from a reduction in unnecessary test and procedures that do not compare favorably with health care interventions that are better documented as effective. Now the Republicans and others don't generally like these ideas as they tend to characterize them as "big government control" of your and my health care. But to be fair, regardless of their political persuasions, most people who understand health care at all, know that better data for the purposes described above will be crucial to getting health care efficiencies, patient safety and costs headed in the right direction. A brief review of how Republicans and more conservative individuals think about health care reform. I believe they would agree that costs must come under control and that more, not fewer Americans should have access to health care regardless of their ability to pay. But the main difference is that these folks see market forces and competition as the way to creating the cost reductions and efficiencies we need. There are a number of ideas with regard to driving more competition among health insurance companies and health care providers (doctors and hospitals) so that the consumer would begin to drive cost down by the choices we make. This works in many sectors of our economy but this formula has shown that improvements are illusive when applied to health care. Primarily the problem is that health care choices are difficult even for those who understand it and are connected. The general population, however, is not so informed and besides we have all been brought up to "go to the doctor" when we feel it is necessary and we also have a cultural heritage that has engendered within most of us the feeling that health care is something that is just there and there really isn't any reason not to access it for whatever the reason and worse we all feel that there is nothing we can do to affect its costs to insure its availability to those with serious problems. OK, this article was not intended to be an exhaustive study as I needed to keep it short in an attempt to hold my audience's attention and to leave some room for discussing what we can do contribute mightily to solving some of the problems. First we must understand that the dollars available for health care are not limitless. Any changes that are put in place to provide better insurance coverage and access to care will cost more. And somehow we have to find the revenues to pay for these changes. At the same time we have to pay less for medical treatments and procedures and do something to restrict the availability of unproven or poorly documented treatments as we are the highest cost health care system in the world and don't necessarily have the best results in terms of longevity or avoiding chronic diseases much earlier than necessary. I believe that we need a revolutionary change in the way we think about health care, its availability, its costs and who pays for it. And if you think I am about to say we should arbitrarily and drastically reduce spending on health care you would be wrong. Here it is fellow citizens - health care spending needs to be preserved and protected for those who need it. And to free up these dollars those of us who don't need it or can delay it or avoid it need to act. First, we need to convince our politicians that this country needs sustained public education with regard to the value of preventive health strategies. This should be a top priority and it has worked to reduce the number of U.S. smokers for example. If prevention were to take hold, it is reasonable to assume that those needing health care for the myriad of life style engendered chronic diseases would decrease dramatically. Millions of Americans are experiencing these diseases far earlier than in decades past and much of this is due to poor life style choices. This change alone would free up plenty of money to handle the health care costs of those in dire need of treatment, whether due to an acute emergency or chronic condition. Let's go deeper on the first issue. Most of us refuse do something about implementing basic wellness strategies into our daily lives. We don't exercise but we offer a lot of excuses. We don't eat right but we offer a lot of excuses. We smoke and/or we drink alcohol to excess and we offer a lot of excuses as to why we can't do anything about managing these known to be destructive personal health habits. We don't take advantage of preventive health check-ups that look at blood pressure, cholesterol readings and body weight but we offer a lot of excuses. In short we neglect these things and the result is that we succumb much earlier than necessary to chronic diseases like heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure. We wind up accessing doctors for these and more routine matters because "health care is there" and somehow we think we have no responsibility for reducing our demand on it. It is difficult for us to listen to these truths but easy to blame the sick. Maybe they should take better care of themselves! Well, that might be true or maybe they have a genetic condition and they have become among the unfortunate through absolutely no fault of their own. But the point is that you and I can implement personalized preventive disease measures as a way of dramatically improving health care access for others while reducing its costs. It is far better to be productive by doing something we can control then shifting the blame. There are a huge number of free web sites available that can steer us to a more healthful life style. A soon as you can, "Google" "preventive health care strategies", look up your local hospital's web site and you will find more than enough help to get you started. Finally, there is a lot to think about here and I have tried to outline the challenges but also the very powerful effect we could have on preserving the best of America's health care system now and into the future. I am anxious to hear from you and until then - take charge and increase your chances for good health while making sure that health care is there when we need it.

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