Often have I stood and cast my line to the unknown – to some momentary flash of silver in the waters out of the corner of my eye – all in the hopes of hooking and catching a fish.
I have spent long hours standing on a stream bank alone with my thoughts. I have watched a mayfly’s wings fluttering in the light of early morning and listened to the distant sound of autumn leaves rustling the wind.
I have spent time on the water without a single nibble and felt the day well worth the effort. Some of my fondest memories are of days spent sitting out on a lake somewhere with my old dog, Duff. She was a devoted fishing partner, the likes of which I will probably never see again. So be it.
Fishing was a part of my growing up – it is a part of who I am. I make no excuses for finding simple pleasure in catching fish. And, while I have been asked by my critics why I fish – what possible pleasure can anyone get out of catching a creature simply for the pleasure of playing it to the net and then releasing – my answer remains: if I have to explain, you probably won’t understand.
As a newspaper columnist, I try to put information out there and let people make up their own minds. I certainly do not expect readers to agree with all of my personal opinions all the time. Even Duff didn’t always agree with me.
My beliefs and opinions are nothing more than my own.
In fact, I have learned much from some of my critics. In certain cases, they have opened my eyes and allowed me to see things differently. For that I am thankful.
On the other hand, if all goes well, I plan to keep on fishing until that day comes when my weary old legs can no longer take me into my favourite lakes and streams. Let’s hope that’s a long way off.
I do, however, realize that the world around me is continuously changing. Some changes are for the better. Others – well let’s just say that I embrace some changes and try to avoid others.
Cane rods have been replaced by ultra high modulus graphite rods. The Pflueger reels I use to buy with my hard-earned allowance at Gerlovin’s Hardware Store as a kid, have been replaced with hand-crafted, machined aluminum reels that cost more than some of the vehicles I’ve owned.
Gone are the wooden plugs with their glass eyes. Gone too are lures with names like Chubb Creek Minnow and flies like the Lady Amhurst and Silver Doctor. We now have Killer Crank Baits, Buzz Bombs, and Hawg-busters. Electronic fish finders and GPS (Global Positioning Systems) devices have made the sport of fishing into a serious business.
When an angler goes fishing now, it’s almost as if they are at war with nature itself.
I remember, as a kid, rifling through my father’s tackle box and sort of helping myself to a fair number of his bright new wooden plugs. I remember just holding them in my hand, feeling their glass eyes and admiring all the painted detail. I always made a point of taking the ones that were still in cardboard boxes. I used to line them up, one by one, and read all the delightful details about how each individual lure was specially designed to entice fish into biting. I loved looking at the logos on the top and sides of the boxes of a fish jumping out of the water to inhale the lure that was in each box. As a kid, I envisioned those lures on the end of my line and a fish inhaling my lure. In time, I did catch fish on some of the lures. Others I have simply admired – for the better part of half a century.