This I Believe

Max - Santa Monica, California
Entered on June 21, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: sports

Many of these essays seem to focus on sad or profound ideas or events that inspire people or get them through tough times. I certainly have beliefs like that, but more important to my survival are the hobbies I have that keep me sane, especially during the strenuous years of my high school career.

I believe in fishing. I believe that fishing nurtures tolerance and appreciation of life. Fishing is a versatile and year round preoccupation. It can be enjoyed in a multitude of different ways from the urban water hole to a swift stream hidden in the solitude of a deep canyon. In either situation, fishing helps me cope with what I have experienced and educates me about what I haven’t.

I believe that fishing molds tolerant individuals. If more people went fishing there would be less road rage, extremely impatient encounters, and hypertension in our world. For as long as I can remember I have been a fisherman. One of my earliest memories of fishing was hooking into an extremely large bass, after an extremely slow day on the water, only to have it spit the hook as my uncle netted it. Since then this situation has played out many more times than I care to remember. These experiences are absolutely gut wrenching for me, and any true fisherman knows what I’m speaking of. It’s like losing a winning lottery ticket, locking the keys in your car, or getting an eighty-nine percent in a class. But after your line gets tangled as you pass a promising patch of river and you lose some more “gimungous” fish, you can deal with it.

I also believe that catch and release fishing has taught me one of the most important things I have ever learned. Catch and release is when instead of keeping and killing the fish, the fish is returned to the water. This is considered the most sporting act because the fish is released smarter, able to grow, as well as reproduce. When I was younger I would have beheaded anyone for even suggesting releasing a fish that I caught. But as I’ve grown into a more sporting person, I understand the prize IS the pursuit. I think that this mindset is essential to living a fulfilling life.

I believe that fishing unites people with a common passion. Whether you are a weekend warrior bait fisherman or the avid dry-fly fisherman (low brow masses or high brow elite) the shared experience unite. Fishing teaches people to stick together because you and me both want an escape to clear our minds and to learn from a primal endeavor that has so much to offer.

One thing I know for certain is that when I’m ninety and have half a brain and am in a wheelchair, I’ll still wet a line and feel alive.