How often have I stood and cast my line to the unknown – to some momentary flash of silver in the waters off to the corner of my eye – all in the hopes of hooking and catching a fish. I have, indeed, spent long hours standing on a banks of a stream or sitting out on a boat somewhere, alone with my thoughts, waiting for a bite, watching a mayfly’s wings flutter in the light of early morning, listening to the distant sound of autumn leaves rustling the wind.
I have also spent time on the water without a single nibble and felt the day well worth the time and 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.
Years have gone by and changes have occurred. I am now retired from the newspaper, although I plan to continue writing my column for as long as there are readers willing to read it. As a newspaper columnist I have always tried to put information out there and let the readers make up their own minds. I certainly do not expect anyone to agree with all of my personal opinions all the time. Even Duff didn’t always agree with me. My beliefs and opinions are simply nothing more than my own.
Having said that, fishing is a part of who I am. I make no excuses for finding simple pleasure in the catching of 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.
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. I hope that day’s a long way off.
Even my little world is continuously changing. Some changes are for the better, others, well let’s just say that I am willing to embrace some changes and try to put off or 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Cane rods have been replaced by ultra high modulus graphite rods.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 have been replaced with 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 know that I can no more stop change from happening than I can stop the passing of time. Today’s graphite rods are much lighter and easier to cast, modern fly tying materials impart a whole new realism to fly patters and I finally own a pair of puncture-proof waders that do not leak. Electric trolling motors are virtually silent and much, much more environmentally friendly. For some reason I prefer sleeping in a soft, warm, comfortable bed up at the cabin rather than in a sleeping bag on the ground inside a mildewy, smelly, old canvas tent.
On the other hand, there is also something exciting about the unknown. After all, if I can cast my line to the unknown with the hope and anticipation of catching a fish, why not face each new day with the same hope and anticipation? If nothing else, it makes life more interesting.