Re: Why do you fish?

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Posted by Rod on August 26, 1997 at 14:49:03:

In Reply to: Why do you fish? posted by Hooker on August 24, 1997 at 22:50:22:

> Just curious, because I sometimes have trouble
> defining what drives me.

Hooker here's my reasoning:
There exists a tangible peace when on still or flowing waters. When I used an old, scratched, and tattered Zebco (the throw away rod of my father) I fished to spend time with and to please him. Later I engorged myself with the entirely different rhythms of bass fishing from bank or boat. This past season I've picked up fly fishing and have forever put away the foolish things of my youth.
The past few years, have brought the question:" why fish?" to my face on numerous occasions. I used to reply, "to get away and enjoy the company of friends in the silence of fishing (hopefully interrupted by swirls and splashes and high-fives)." Now, having often confronted the question of art vs. nature in literature, I have finally realized that to me fishing is a forum for witnessing this struggle and for understanding it. Art and nature are both venerable gifts from God and need only be separated when we choose to live without both of them simultaneously. All fishing involves a skilled delivery of a crafted or natural lure in order to entice the instinct of an animal.
Fly fishing is the supreme example of this. The argument of imitation or intimation has been with us since the brilliant Greeks, and fly fishing unifies these polar extremes and yields the brilliantly colored works of nature's art to the penitent and patient fisherman (for in my opinion nothing is more beautiful than the brown or rainbow, perfectly camouflaged in clear water, raised from its own element to be viewed for its glorious markings). The modern technology behind our light but strong tackle allows for better--more natural delivery of tiny, well crafted flies.
Years ago when I read that infamous McLean novella, I didn't understand what he meant by everything merging into one, or why intelligent men would choose a more difficult, less successful manner of fishing. Now, the instant a 12 or 14" brown darts from beneath its secure log or dark pool and ferociously snaps my fly from the separating film of water, leaving its world and momentarily curling itself in mine, I know. This action is almost violent but so can be art and nature. Pure art and nature collide more subtly when a rainbow mildly takes a well placed dry with a barely audible "sip." At this moment, before the playing and landing and before the assurance that the fish is firmly hooked, a supreme confidence and peace takes over for a fraction of a second. At this moment all of the artisans of the tackle and flies, the river, the frightened fish, and a world of whirling thoughts merge within my being at a point in time and space as near to ecstacy and as far from epiphany--it opens and closes before I realize I must turn the running trout or take in the slack line as he bolts upstream. Here art and nature, no longer arch enemies, combine and unify all things, and their confluence yields peace. Every time I string my rod I seek this. I cannot lie and say any day on the river is great, even if I don't take fish—If I do not take at least one something is out of kilter and the beauty of nature's art lacks art's nature.
I fish because I am an addict and having admitted it saying, "Hi, I'm Rod, I am a fish- aholic.. I fish in the rain and in the blazing sun and I'll pass this delightful disease onto my children and tie flies for theirs," I refuse to quit.

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