For the record, I am not in the catch and release camp. I love to eat fish, and the best-tasting fish is one that you’ve pulled out of the water in the last hour. If I have to put back what I catch regardless of its size, there’s not much point in me putting the fish through it.
I used to think I knew what it meant to find peace through fishing. Perhaps you’ve heard the famous tagline “my worst day fishing beats my best day at work.” It turns out that until last year, I really didn’t have a clue. At least one of you will find no surprise in this admission. Intellectually I understood it and felt it to some degree, but it didn’t pervade my being in the way it should. I’ve learned what I was missing recently.
I hear in the back of the audience a muffled question… “What was your epiphany?” It’s stupid, really. I finally learned enough about fishing that I can actually catch the little buggers with some reliability. I used to go on multiple fishing trips in a year and never get a single bite, much less catch something. Although I did enjoy getting out in nature and being away from civilization, the act of fishing would leave me with an almost undefined feeling of frustration.
At this point in my life, I believe I could probably go most of a year without catching a fish and still find contentment. I no longer have the intense frustration of years without a nibble. I know in my gut that the fish really are there, they just aren’t in the mood today.
That’s the sound of more mutters out there, isn’t it? The serenity you get from fishing is not supposed to be dependent on catching anything, right? Well, you could be right. I do believe that if a seasoned fisherman were to suddenly find himself unable to get a nibble or catch a fish for two or three years solid, he might lose faith too.
If all this really does mean that I don’t “get it” then I can live with that. I’ve found the happy place that works for me, and if I’m the only one there, so much the better. I’ll probably catch more fish. 😉