By Dwayne K. Parsons -
Have you thought about that? Have you thought about why fishing attracts devotees who in some cases become so passionate about it that they actually become addicts of it?
I have. I’ve found fishing as an addiction in my own heart at different times in my life. Sometimes, by watching myself closely, by openly examining the reasons I chose to fish over other things I learned things about myself and about the nature of man. Here are some of my conclusions.
First of all, we like the Surprise. We like the fact that as we learn the craft, there’s always the chance we’ll land a larger than normal fish. In many cases, for good reason, I’ll release a fish so the catching of it again can be enjoyed by someone else. I also, like many, release them to keep the gene pool working for the next generation. i release them so they can spawn and continue their genetic wonder into the future. But there are also fish that I will harvest because I’d rather eat fresh fish or home-canned fish than buy it packaged from a store. So it’s the anticipation of surprise that rises first to the forefront of reason. I remember that was one of the reasons for my youthful enthusiasm and why my eyes brightened when someone told me I could go fishing.
There’s another reason that’s prevalent among men and women, especially, who fish. Some children carry this motive as well, particularly if they are from an unhappy or troubled home environment; but for the most part, I think this is an adult trait. In one word it is Escape. Fishing offers escape to people who feel confined or trapped or stressed in a work or home environment. By the nature of being on or around water, whether flowing or still, fishing offers a place of solitude where one can more easily work through the problems, difficulties and struggles of life.
Following closely this second motive is a third. I discovered this one being a writer for a fishing magazine years ago. For a relatively short stint I was lucky enough to be the editor of the Federation of Fly Fishers magazine. At that desk I realized that what we were truly bringing to the table of our readers was not so much the information they eagerly sought, as it was the transplantation of themselves onto a river or lake. If we provided stories written well enough, people could transport through their imaginations right out of an office cubical or subway ride or waiting room and for just a few moments dream and plan and think about being there, wherever that might be. I call this one Being in the Day Dream.
A forth reason, I discern is that fishing offers a kind of shared experience that bonds people to each other. We formulate fishing buddies and fisher friends as people we like to be around when we go fishing because there is something in their personality that relates to the pleasure we’re having as we fish. So I class this one as Shared Experience.
The fifth reason is less common and is generally found among the experts, the masters of the art. It is an experience that happens only on occasion and usually only within one’s private, very personal awareness. It happens in other sports as well where experience, understanding and body memory all come together and the brain stops thinking. It’s the real reason why we often say “fishing gives me solitude”. In these circles of intellectual understanding and of pondering what it is that happened, we have come collectively to refer to it as Being in the Zone. It means that for a string of moments, we forget all the pressures of life. We forget trying to understand anything. We forget to analyze what we’re doing. For some moments we meld into everything around us and it’s as if the fish were part of us, as if they know we are there and that the catching, the fighting and the landing of them is all part of creation. The insects are there perfectly. The sunlight or shadows are just right. There is no thought. It’s all perfect and the hooking and landing of a great fish happens not because we have gained the skill but because we have become the relationship with it. It’s called again, Being in the Zone, where no thoughts take place, but awareness is enhanced and the experience, keen beyond our normal existence.
These are the primary reasons I fish. If you have some of your own and can enunciate them. I’d love to hear from you; please leave a comment. I hazard to say that my growing list of readers would also like to hear what you have to say, so let us all know what you think is the number one reason you fish.