It occurs to me that I don’t know why I enjoy fishing so much.
Sure, there’s the undeniable thrill of sneaking in close enough to a wild creature that you can watch behavior that is uninhibited by your presence. There’s the beautiful landscapes, exploration thereof and the simple – and occasionally spiritual – joy of sun rises and sets. Overcoming challenges and proving yourself in the pursuit, studying and reacting to the million tiny details that array themselves for and against success. Realizing that sometimes success is just making it back to the truck in more-or-less one piece. Realizing that simply catching fish won’t do, but only if the fish is caught just so, whether on dry fly or huge streamer or among blitzing predators of the sea.
I work with fish every day now, directly or indirectly. Dumping them from the crossed cotton of nets and seines, wrenching them from between gillnet monofilament, counting, measuring, identifying. Maintaining nets, boats, trucks, trailers, waders. Things I’d be doing anyway, truth be told. Well, except for the nets. While critical for scientific study, nets are not anywhere in my echelon of preferred methods.
Luckily, I still enjoy fishing almost as much as I used to, when I do go. Sight fishing still retains the thrill it always had, and that heartens me.
If it wasn’t for fishing, I’d lose half (at least!) of my identity. That’s amazing to me, for an activity that I don’t even fully understand.