I can’t recall exactly how many times through the years I’ve been asked by the clueless, “What the #*%^ is so addicting about fishing? You’re always up before dawn rumbling off with your pockets stuffed with weird lures and/or baits that would make a turkey buzzard hurl. You fish when it rains, blows, snows and in freezing conditions that would have a polar bear po’d. Have you considered seeking help?”
I’ve never been able to come up with a sociable answer other than a simple gesture I usually reserve for Neanderthals displaying the driving skills of an unhinged howler monkey.
Since I’m not the only one with an angling addiction I did a little research and found some opinions from other fanatics and observers logged into my top secret fishing journals and I’ll share a few throughout this column. Hopefully they’ll provide some insight into our compulsion and encourage you to join us. If not, you are hopeless and should look into high-arctic lichen farming as a viable hobby.
As for me, I’m still not sure why I love the sport. Maybe it’s because that it’s not only fun but humbling. As John Steinbeck once said, “It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming.” I couldn’t agree more.
Yesterday when I took the pooch out for its early morning stretch-n-things our breaths steamed steel gray in the dawn’s chilled air.
Moments later 40 or so cranes pirouetted over the cabin squawking something significant to a smaller flock headed up-ridge. I didn’t really think much about the events until a quarter-white bunny bolted from under the deck and then it hit, “Man, steelhead fishing season is roaring in on a fast track. I need a new fly rod and another batch of halibut.”
My pragmatic wife thought the observations may portend an early arrival of winter and that we might want to get a jump on preparations.
Oh come on now, what’s more manly, stacking wood or standing stately on a riverbank practicing catch-and-release techniques? Just the thought of the latter makes my beard grow faster.
I asked her to trust me that we had plenty of time left for mundane manual pre-winter projects. The late silver run was also just days away and it was my duty to provide for her by honing my fin hunting skills.
She stared at me for a moment and then suggested I should think about finding a balance between preparing and providing. Thus she wouldn’t have to launch clan members to track me down if a procrastinated fundamental responsibility suddenly turned into an emergency while I was engaged elsewhere fishing the wilds for food for the family and other heroic goals.
She figured splitting and stacking a few rounds would be a nice start. I agreed and slipped the kid next door some green to get it done while I beat feet for the water with a couple of buds.
I was determined to use my refined pescador skills to reach a higher level of subsistence proficiency because, as the old saying goes, “Since 3/4 of the Earth’s surface is water and 1/4 land, it’s perfectly clear the good Lord intended that man spend three times as much time fishing as he does patching up things around the homestead especially if a big run’s on.” Or something like that.
Have you ever had one of those quintessential days of angling where you’ve nailed a couple of 70-plus pound halibut, fought for over an hour with a colossal skate, limited out on silvers, netted a spectacular feeder king and finished the hunt by boating a 60-pound ling cod street fighter that drained your last ounce of strength to pull it over the rail? Well neither have I. A wind came out of nowhere tried to blow us into downtown Spenard. We were trounced before setting the hook.
Back on the beach we rationalized that at least we didn’t have to stand over a cleaning table elbow deep in fish gorp while rats with feathers that belong on a skeet shooting range waited for an opening to swoop in and purloin part of the catch.
I invited the boys over to the cabin for a warm libation and to catch the last half of a preseason game. When we arrived I found a nice stack of split wood near the back door and a note on the window.
“Robby brought their log splitter. He was probably done before you guys dropped bait. I’m headed north with his mom to pick up some more canning goods to take care of your spoils from the sea. Hope the wind didn’t give you guys any problems.”
As if she couldn’t guess…
Steven Wright once said “There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.” He should have added, “If you don’t believe me, just ask Nick.”
Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if he isn’t still recovering from an unplanned dip into a stream pool of exceptionally icy water that significantly altered some vital part parts and bruised his ego.