By Mike Carey
Fishing is in my blood, a strand on my DNA sequence that sticks out a little farther than the rest. It drives me, creating a wanderlust I can't ignore. If I go to long between fishing trips an itch begins deep inside and builds into a raging fever if left unanswered. "Go Fishing Now!", my DNA strand commands. OK, maybe that's a little dramatic. I don't go into rages... but I do feel it as a deep-seated anticipation which grabs me firmly and doesn't let go.
My earliest memory of fishing can only be described as Opening Day Combat Fishing in a stocked hatchery pond with two hundred of my closest friends. Not a bad memory, mind you. My brothers and I got up at the crack of dawn and road our bikes five miles on country roads to arrive the Nevin Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin, where we found a spot along the shoreline to squeeze in and await the starting time. Our set up was simple - a number 6 hook and three feet up the line a couple split shot sinkers. The rod and reel was a tried and true zebco 33 spool with twelve pound line. The bait of choice? A chunk of velveta cheese and a marshmallow.
Before you scoff at this meat-fishing set up, consider the goal was to catch fish to eat. We weren't there for "sport", although certainly as young boys we enjoyed the whole act of fishing. From the baiting, to the casting, setting the line tight, and waiting for that first nibble and gauging the exact moment when to set the hook - this sport - fishing - had me firmly in it's grip. Watching everyone around us catching fish taught us the community of anglers. As the years went by these early lessons morphed into finer refinements of skill and sport, bringing me to the point I am at today. An angler... not the best, not the worst (however one wants to apply those terms to such a personal experience as fishing).
Anyway, here for your assessment are my ten reasons to go fishing. Not in any particular order, since that changes from trip to trip, they are, nonetheless ten reasons that come most immediately to mind. You, no doubt, have your own top ten list. We likely have several overlaps and some that we've never thought of.
1) Relaxation - can you think of something that is as relaxing as kicking back, whether alone or with friends, waiting for that first fish to bite? Taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the fishing grounds? If that doesn't relax a person, what would?
2) Challenge - fishing can be ridiculously easy or excruciatingly tedious and slow. One thing is for sure, it's never the same and the challenge is figuring out what the fish want on any given day.
3) Exploration - I love getting out and finding new places to fish and explore. Just looking at a map and seeing the various bodies of water out there and imagining what the lake, river, or saltwater will be like is exciting to me.
4) Knowledge - fishing can be simple, if you wish, but I enjoy the learning that goes along with fishing. There are so many things to learn, from bait, to gear, to techniques - a good angler is always learning something new!
5) Skill Building - closely related to knowledge is skill building. The physical aspect of casting a fishing line, whether a level wind, spin-caster, or fly rod - each type of gear gives me an opportunity to learn and hone a skill set that will serve me for years to come.
6) Technology - I love to play and learn new equipment to allow me to catch my target species. From fish-finders to downriggers, planner boards, new rigs for various species - there are a lot of fun toys to play with when it comes to fishing. I enjoy learning about and using them all!
7) Solitude - fishing gives one a unique opportunity to get out and be alone. You don't even need to have an excuse, it is it's own excuse. Being alone with one's thoughts can be a very powerful experience leading to wonderful discoveries.
8) Companionship - on the opposite end of the spectrum, fishing is the perfect excuse to spend time with friends and to make new friends. Sharing something in common brings down barriers and gives strangers something to talk about, making new friends and re-establishing bonds with old friends.
9) Food - fishing provides one of the best and healthiest sources of protein a person can eat. Not to mention all the different recipes and ways of cooking fish. n all new culinary world opens up.
10) A Sacred Bond - most importantly to me, fishing reminds me of my sacred connection to the earth. From the food it provides, to the understanding that I am a part of something much bigger, fishing graces me with the knowledge of my place in the world and my responsibilities to be a good Sheppard and custodian to Mother Earth.
There you have it, ten reasons why I love to fish. What are your ten reasons? I'd like to know. Share them in the comments section and happy fishing to you!