Is fishing an inconsequential pastime? Or is it something more?
I've had a lot of time to contemplate the bigger picture of things.
I learned it from Saul Alinsky, a long time ago, in a far away land where, between patrols, I had the gift of undistracted alone-time to think.
It's a luxury, and curse, that leads me to contemplate the bigger picture of things. Sometimes I find myself pondering the point of fishing and why I am so passionate about it.
Is it "just fishing" or something higher?
Think about it.
If you had to explain inshore fishing to someone who had never been to the marsh, how would you do it?
It would be difficult.
The sensory overload, breathtaking vistas and challenges posed by nature are hard to translate into meaningful words.
I believe "to each their own", but strongly feel anyone can go fishing in the marsh and come away a more-complete person as a result.
This is why:
Fishing Challenges us in Ways Other Things Cannot
If you listen to my podcast, Inshore Interviews, then you have heard my "referee analogy". The idea is that there is no referee in fishing.
This isn't football. It's not basketball. What happens, happens.
It is what it is.
As a result, fishing carries a finality that is set in stone. There is no referee to put the fish back when the line breaks. No referee to let you make a better cast. No referee to blame.
The finality of fishing has made me a better person teaching me to take responsibility for myself and accept the things I cannot change. It taught me acceptance.
Staying in Touch with Nature Conserves Conservation
Our great country isn't the agrarian society it used to be and not as many people live at the end of the road.
Unfortunately, it's not conducive to keeping conservation in the lime light.
I cannot tell you how many people I've met in New Orleans who couldn't point to Delacroix on a map and have certainly never been fishing.
This is shocking to me because the older generation of New Orleanians spent a lot of time going fishing!
It seems kids today are too busy remodeling the city to understand how the surrounding wetlands ultimately define Louisiana.
Consider this: Who will protect our wetlands if no one can appreciate them, much less know of their existence?
I think a fishing trip or two would solve those problems.
Memories that last a Lifetime
How many of you have seen this meme?
Call me biased, but fishing does entail a sort of "sensory overload" that keeps people coming back for more.
Deep down inside we know our man-made schemes are disappointingly predictable:
you know how the movie will end
a 5k run will be over...in five kilometers
a video game has boundaries dictating an outcome in mind...by its developers
But fishing trips? You can be taken by surprise, in ways not anticipated:
sharks tearing into school trout
a sea turtle poking his head out of the water to say "hi"
a waterspout landing on the fishing spot you were at ten minutes ago
It could be the serenity of a flat calm lake or the sheer power of a thunderstorm steamrolling the marsh.
Those experiences leave an impression like no other. As a result, the memory lasts and is easily recalled.
Fishing really is "something more"
Those are just a few reasons fishing is more than "just fishing". I don't believe this applies solely to inshore fishing, though it is my bread and butter. I have had the same experience in offshore and freshwater fishing.
Just yesterday I was bass fishing in Pearl River when my buddy just finished a story about a previous fishing trip:
He had cast over a tree branch, by accident, and the lure dipped in and out of the water. A nearby bass couldn't resist the action and had to inhale the lure!
Not 30 seconds later I accidentally cast over a tree branch, but instead of reeling the line in and trying again, I did exactly what Jeremy described.
The craw dipped in and out of the water a few times before a bass exploded on the surface, flying out of the water in a cartwheel.
I about fell out of the boat!
We couldn't stop laughing and, in a corny way that is tough for grown men to admit, we created a lifelong memory.
The memory-making experience was that powerful on two grown men, who spend all their free time fishing.
What effect could it have on a cancer survivor? Severe depression? A combat veteran suffering from post traumatic stress?
I strongly believe fishing is more than just fishing. It's an impetus to something greater.
What exactly that "greater" thing is depends on you.
Either way, it's time you've left the dock and cast a line.