I am so glad I don’t have to rely on fishing to feed my family. It’s always been high on my list of things I’m not particularly good at. In other words, if fishing were our sole source of food, we would all probably starve to death.
As far as fishing for sport and recreation is concerned, I’m not the kind of person who embraces the great outdoors. I enjoy my creature comforts such as a comfortable chair, dry clothes, a flush toilet, and a thermostat. And going fishing seems to be such a huge production. There’s hauling all of the stuff there and back home, which not only includes the requisite fishing gear, but there’s also the bottles of liquor, barware, glasses, and ice so I won’t have to miss my 5:00 p.m. martini.
But once in a while, in a weak moment, it seems like a good idea. I’ll get seduced into thinking that this time it will turn out differently, where rest and relaxation will be punctuated with the exhilaration one feels when a hooked bass breaks water and does a flip in the air. Then it’s the epic man against fish where the fish puts up a valiant but futile fight. I see myself hauling it in, and then, once I net the fish, I’ll have to decide if I’m going to release it (nope), eat it (probably), or if it will end up on the wall above my desk (probably not).
My most recent try at fishing came about as a result of watching the movie, A River Runs Through It. I could see myself as an advanced senior edition of Brad Pitt standing in the middle of a stream, wearing a jaunty hat, fishing vest and waders, and a wicker creel at my side. But, if I learned nothing else during these learning-to-fish escapades, it was to proceed with caution financially. I decided, before I would go out and purchase an expensive fly rod and reel, I would try it first.
I went with a buddy of mine, and I have to admit, it was idyllic and picturesque. We started fishing under this green canopy of branches, and I thought maybe this was what it was all about. I was breathing in clean mountain air and experiencing the camaraderie of Mother Nature and me, and then tranquility turned into disaster. I immediately wrapped my line around the branch of a tree, and then I snagged my own clothes, not once, but twice. I fished for about four hours, repeatedly casting and reeling in without even a nibble. I finally put the fly rod aside, and instead of fishing, I spent the rest of the afternoon casting aspersions.
I do want you to know, in my quest to become a fisherman, I’ve become quite well-read on the subject. I thought perhaps if I could get inside the heads of actual fishermen, there might be something I could learn. Some of the books I’ve read include the following:
I Fish: Therefore, I Am – Patrick McManus
Too Fat To Fish – Artie Lange
It’s A Whopper – Desi Northup
All Fishermen Are Liars – John Gierach
Trout Fishing In America – Richard Brautigan (something every man should read)
How To Fish – by Will Ketchum
Zen And The Art Of Ice Fishing – Jason Nark (a website)
The Last Word On Lutefisk – Gary Legwold
Fishing 101 – by Lefty Kreh (guys named Lefty have always given me good advice)
Fishing For Compliments – Scott Kreitzer
Magic Fishing Panties – by Kimberly J. Dalferes (a self-proclaimed king salmon slayer)
It was all very disappointing. Hardly anything was gained by spending all of this time with my nose in a book.
At this point, I feel I’ve basically given fishing my best shot, and now I’ve resigned myself to the fact that any fish I prepare probably won’t be fresh. In other words, you won’t hear of me driving for ten hours to hike through the wilderness so I can fish that perfect trout stream, nor will I fly to Canada in search of the wily sockeye salmon.
What I will do is walk through the automatic doors, turn right just before I get to produce, and in the fish section of our grocery store I will carefully select the “day’s catch.” When I get home, instead of cutting, gutting, and scaling a fresh fish, I will be peeling back the plastic from the Styrofoam container the fish was purchased in, humbled but still hungry and hopeful.
Fishing is boring unless you catch an actual fish, and then it’s disgusting. – Dave Barry
No formula exists for success in trout fishing. – Loosely translated from John 21:3
There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process. – Paul O’Neil
Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit all day in a boat and drink beer. – Simply A Known Fact
Author Izaak Walton called fly fishing “The Contemplative Man’s Recreation”. He also said, “No man can lose what he never had,” which I think also can apply to fishing.
Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. – Henry David Thoreau
In my humble opinion, Thoreau got it wrong. Catching the fish is only half the equation – to me, cooking and eating the fish is the best half. That’s why, when I go fishing, I GO TO CATCH FISH! I’ve never understood catch-and-release anglers. It’s like having sex and stopping after the foreplay. – Bob Miller