James Murray tells a story for a small crowd at the ORL Salmon Arm branch on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Column: Catching fish is never just about catching fish

Great Outdoors by James Murray

Great Outdoors by James Murray

There is a painting that hangs on the wall above my desk of a young boy sitting in a chair beside his fathers’ bed.

The boy is sitting there, dressed with hat and jacket, holding a fishing rod in one hand and waiting ever so patiently. There’s a look of anticipation on his face. An old-style wind-up clock sitting on a night table indicates it is 5:25 in the morning. The sun is just coming up through the window. The father is sound asleep.

I could very well have been that young boy 60 years ago, waiting so eager and patiently to go fishing with my father. I have felt that sense of anticipation prior to each and every fishing trip. Two months from now my friend Corry and I will be sturgeon fishing on the Fraser River. I can’t wait.

Words cannot possibly describe the excitement that comes when you tie into a prehistoric Fraser River white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus). Rod and reel in hand, holding on for dear life as a six-and-a-half-foot, 250-pound sturgeon comes sailing out of the water right in front of you. Seeing something that big rise up and splash down so close is, to say the least, pretty darned exciting.

I enjoy fishing, in part because I just like to be out there casting a line. I do, however, also enjoy actually catching fish. I am a so-called catch and release angler. So called because every now and then I will harvest a fish for the dinner table and, while I appreciate the thrill of tying into a 250-pound sturgeon, I can also get equally excited about hooking a three- or four-pound trout on a fly line.

It’s hard to explain, but when I’m on the water, I feel good about just being out there – whether I catch fish or not. Time spent casting a line – it gives me opportunity to both reflect on the past and contemplate the future. Things make more sense. Personal problems and complicated situations become simpler and less important and things just sort of fall into place. For a few precious hours I am able to leave my worries behind. Another way of putting it, I suppose, would be to say that for those few precious hours, I simply don’t give a damn.

Read more: Column: Fishing Derby a family favourite on Father’s Day

Read more: Column: Salmon Arm Kids’ Fishing Derby on hold, good time to practise for next year’s event

On those occasions when I do actually manage to get a fish on, well, all I care about is the moment. When I’m fighting a fish, it’s just me and the fish – the eternal struggle of predator and prey. In those minutes I find myself responding to some primordial instinct, some ancient need to pit myself against nature. Nothing else matters.

As for those who might ask how I can claim to respect nature, and yet catch fish for the sole purpose of catching something only to turn around and release it, well, I do not feel the quality of my respect for nature is diminished by the fact that I enjoy fishing. For me, the actual process of catching fish is but a small part of the whole fishing/outdoor experience. Nor do I not take it lightly that by catching a fish and eating it, I am also taking a life.

So why then do I fish?

I can only answer by saying that when I am on the water, casting a line, I feel like there is a balance to my life – not at all dissimilar to the balance that exists in nature where things are in a state of continuous change, where all things must live and die in order to bring about rebirth and renewal.

I also believe that fishing is a way for some young people to get back to nature. Like the young boy in the painting, I remember getting up on many an early morning to go fishing with my father. I remember our talks in the car heading out and I remember stopping by the Half Moon Cafe for a 10-cent Coke on our way back. I remember our conversations far more than I remember any of the fish that I ever caught. I cherish those fishing trips.

I only hope that part of me will always feel like that young boy in the painting.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Outdoors and Recreation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Machinery could be seen working to clear land behind a pair of houses on Main Street for the future site of the Shuswap and Secwepmc Healing Centre, a medical facility on Friday, April 9. The Sicamous Fire Department has been using the buildings for training exercises ahead of their demolition. (Jim Elliot/Eagle Valley News)
Snapshot: Clearing space

Land is being cleared for a new medical centre on Sicamous’ Main Street.

Winter driving conditions returned to the Coquihalla Highway on April 10. (ICBC image)
Coquihalla motorists warned of fresh snow

Five to 10 cm of snow is expected today for the mountain highway.

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

School District 83 trustees are leaning towards an option in the school district’s Long Range Facilities Plan that favours making Salmon Arm Secondary’s Sullivan campus and Jackson campus (pictured) both Grade 9-12 schools. (Google maps image)
Letter: Two high school option for Salmon Arm will create ‘have, have not’ situation

Writer concerned with E5 option, says transparent talk about implications needed

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.[CDC]
More COVID-19 exposures reported at schools in Kelowna

Interior Health added additional schools and dates to their list of exposures

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Sun Peaks is tracking rising COVID-19 cases. (Kamloops This Week Photo)
Sun Peaks sees spike in COVID-19 cases at end of ski season

On April 9, there were 15 positive cases confirmed.

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Most Read