(The following was published in the Newsleader on Sep 17, 2010)
Why do I go fishing? I was recently asked that question. I thought about it for a time and have come up with some of my reasons.
First, I believe it is man’s instinct to hunt and gather. Granted, most of our modern hunting and gathering is done at the supermarket these days, but the instinct is still there. Don’t get me wrong. I am truly happy to have access to fully stocked grocery stores. I am thrilled that I don’t have to go into the woods to try and find food, clothing, and shelter. I am sure that many, if not most, of my early ancestors died or were maimed at young ages in the pursuit of food. Today I go fishing for the fun of it.
Fishing satisfies a basic instinct in me. Basic should not be confused with base, the adjective, when it comes to this instinct. There are some who believe we should never take any animals or fish for food or for any other reason. That is their problem. They should just continue to graze on the clover around them. I’ll continue to eat meat and fish. I should point out here that when I am out fishing, I have a personal ethic that requires that I never kill any animal or fish that is wasted. If I won’t eat it, I won’t kill it. If, when fishing, I accidentally catch a fish that I don’t want, I release it carefully so that it may live on.
Next, I fish because I like to hang out where the fish live. If you have never gone into the mountains following a small stream rushing through boulders and rocks, forming little pools where trout gather looking for their own food, casting a tiny fly that you cobbled together out of chicken feathers and tinsel, matching your wits with theirs, you couldn’t understand. If you have never traveled up the great rivers of Alaska chasing the elusive King Salmon disturbed only by the occasional bald eagle or howling wolf, you couldn’t truly understand. Or if you haven’t taken an offshore boat out in some tropical waters following sea birds and looking to latch onto a mighty fish that in some cases could be much larger than you. Or even just traveling to the nearest lake where your peace and solitude is only disrupted by the tug on your line or watching your bobber go under. If none of this stirs your heart, then you just couldn’t understand.
Finally, I fish for the pure pleasure of a huge plateful of fresh fried fish. Of all the foods available to modern man, few bring me more satisfaction than fish I just caught, cleaned, and prepared for my meal. Whether that plateful of fish is stream- side on an open fire, or in my dining room at home, I still get the same pleasure.
I understand that fishing is not for everybody. Just like not everybody plays golf, or goes to the Ballet. Fishing will continue to be one of my great pleasures in life.
To those among you who would attempt to deny me that pleasure through misguided legislation or other means, quit wasting your time. Here’s my deal for you. Leave me and my fellow anglers alone to our pursuit and I promise I will leave you alone to graze on your clover to your heart’s content.
Ron Scarbro September 6, 2010
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