February 11, 2019

Passion or Prestige - Why do you fish?

Do you see the face of a Hunter? Do you see yourself?
Let me just start this off with a bit of personal background. As of the time of this writing I am mere days of age 52. I've fished in some form most of my life. Some of my earliest memories are fishing in the grandparents farm pond. I've collected a books worth of fishing memories thus far in life and my everyday wish is to add to those memories. I've fished with a lot of great anglers, I'm willing to shared my knowledge and I've spent a lot of time fishing alone.

Something that has become clear to me recently is that not all anglers get the same thing from fishing as I do. Just to clarify, I'm not writing about the difference of sport verses harvest anglers. I believe most anglers quickly recognize that distinction. What I'm really noticing is the difference between passion or prestige.

To reiterate, maybe these are unfair titles but you decide what might fit better after I describe what I've witnessed.

I'll use myself as my base point. I'm passionate about sport fishing no matter the where, how, when or what are the locations or the quarry. Bluegill to steelhead, snapper to tarpon, it's all good to me. I can enjoy fishing a puddle and have been fortunate enough to fish some famed waters. The passion for me is the same.
I believe I am truly a passionate angler.

So there is no misunderstanding, believe me I do recognize the varying levels of commitment, skill, challenge and reward associated with various fish species and/or fish locales.

But I notice a distinct difference in many other anglers. I want to be careful here and avoid saying that maybe they are not passionate about angling. But there seems to be many that without hesitation shrug off most forms of fishing as mere simple pleasures. They seem to always seek out conversations involving the higher profiles. If it doesn't include a passport stamp then why bother.
Some go as far to show absolute no interest unless they are fishing the top of the food chain. Many would go a year without even wetting a line just to spend a few days in pursuit of a prestigious trophy.

I personally don't share in or understand this philosophy.

Prestige or is it Romance
It no longer surprises me to be in an airport with a fly rod tube to have someone try to strike up a conversation with me about the beautiful art of fly fishing. They most always clearly have a "River Runs Through It" idealistic image of what it is to fly fish while trying to describe casting with waving arms and starry eyes.

While it is easy to buy into the attention, what my new found friend is completely unaware of is it's not some graceful art that drives my passion. The art is invisible. The art is in the deception of my quarry. Sure I appreciate a great form fly cast but I'm much more interested in the cast that catches fish, graceful or not!
In these situations I have just learned to smile and agree with my new friend while hoping they are not going to be seated next to me on my flight. Life is too short to try and paint them a new image through my words of my definition of a modern fly angler.

I'm not in this for a prestigious ego petting. But, if you've been doing this for as long as I have I bet you know at least one angler, if not many, who is seeking this ego petting.

As I continue on just let me continue to clarify that I'm not saying this is a wrong pursuit. It's just different.

So why do I feel different
Personally I don't want to go very long without fishing, certainly no way a year, even a month seems unreasonable. I enjoy the challenge of any fish species and if I find no challenge than maybe I need to consider a tougher tactic. I've caught bass on soft hackles, catfish on poppers, carp on streamers and I remember every one of those catches. Certainly not the most effective techniques to apply to these species but as in the words found somewhere in midwest redneck philosophy "There's more than one way to skin a cat"!

Yes, I have some limits. I don't care for fishing put and take trout stocks, I'm not going to partake in snagging, and I have no interest in fishing with live bait. My fishing passion absolutely relies on the pure trickery through artificial means of the species I pursue.

As I'm writing this I'm just minutes away from joining a great group of anglers on a well known steelhead river. It's quite prestigious. I'm happy for the opportunity and seek to embrace the challenge.

I'm not going to share to you about the great weather and wonderful scenery in cover of a failed outing nor will I feed you instagram images for the next 30 days displaying my unwavering skill level. You see I don't need your validation. That's not why I fish.

My question I want you to ask yourself is, Why do you fish?