I’ve been saying it for years, and during these unprecedented times given the insanity of politics, social unrest and a worldwide pandemic, I believe it more than ever – there is no better therapy than fishing. Those of use already immersed in the sport are well aware of the escape fishing can provide from life’s sometimes bumpy road, but these days there are a lot more folks getting a taste of the benefits that fishing can provide. Never have people had more free time on their hands while being deprived of things that before Covid, were the fabric of their lives. The result has been a dramatic increase in fishing participation since as luck would have it, fishing has been one of the activities still available to those looking to spend time in the outdoors.
While these newbies are discovering that fishing can easily translate into quality family time, along with capturing the benefits that outdoor activities provide, those of us with fishing already in our blood might find additional motivation to wet a line. For some, it’s the prospect of catching more and bigger fish than the season before, but for others, myself included, success involves many more intangibles beyond catch numbers. Some might aspire to attaining individual goals such as catching a 40 or 50-pound striper, or a double digit doormat fluke. They may even formulate a plan to help them accomplish their goal, but intertwined in that search are the real reasons many of us participate in this wonderful activity we call fishing. And maybe the term fishing, rather than catching, is revealing enough itself when it comes down to why we fish.
Fishing in my mind is really all about the hunt. It’s about figuring out where and when fish will go on the feed, the right presentation, and then having the proper equipment to see the experience through. There is a tremendous sense of satisfaction that comes with figuring out yourself what the best tides are for a particular location, and even more satisfaction in finding a productive spot on your own. Once you figure those factors out, the actual catching becomes anticlimactic.
Nothing provides a better forum for accomplishing these things than incorporating some new experiences into your fishing each season. Traveling out of your regular circle of fishing destinations and fishing new waters for the first time is always a challenge, and one that brings a considerable amount of satisfaction when you unlock the secrets of fishing a new location. Incorporating the use of light tackle into your fishing will provide more fun per fish, something worth considering when one factors in some of the bag and size limits we are confronted with these days. Catching short fluke on light spinning tackle is a whole lot more fun than cranking them to the boat with a standard conventional outfit.
It is difficult to overlook the aesthetics that are often associated with fishing. Whether it’s a starlit nighttime sky, or sunrises and sunsets bursting in hues that challenge any human being to duplicate, these gifts of nature add a special touch to our time spent fishing.
For some, the actual fishing takes a back seat to the comaraderie that comes from fishing with friends and family, and few will dispute the value of spending quality time with your own children. Sharing special times on the water and building memories that can last a lifetime are true benefits of fishing in the company of others.
Then there are those of us who feel one of the greatest benefits of the fishing experience is the solitude one can find on a stretch of beach barren of other anglers, or a mountain stream where rushing water and the chirping of birds are the only sounds. The pressures and demands of daily life melt away in these surroundings, and as Herbert Hoover so eloquently stated many years ago, “To fish is to cleanse the soul.”
It’s encouraging to see so many new anglers joining the ranks and discovering what so many of us have known for a good part of our lives – it’s not just about catching fish. The next time you are out fishing, take a step back and embrace some of the wonderful gifts that fishing can provide when given the chance.