I can’t drive past a body of water without thinking about fishing. What kinds of fish are there? How big are they? When was the last time somebody actually fished there? The questions race through my mind with a childlike fascination for the possibilities.
I believe in fishing, an activity that has provided so much more than the occasional meal. It has taught me patience and perseverance. It has taken me to places I might have otherwise overlooked. Most notably it has created some of my most lasting and vibrant friendships.
I remember the first fish I caught. It happens to be one of the earliest memories I have of my childhood. It was a very small Largemouth Bass, too small to keep, but it provided, with every ounce in its body a sense of exhilaration that I instantly wanted to experience again and again. What followed was an immediate lesson in patience. I did not catch my next fish for well over an hour, which for a 5 year-old boy, felt like an entire day. This one was so small, that I was surprised it could get its mouth around the hook.
That moment of fascination carried me through to the next, highly anticipated fishing trip. It was a nauseating rockfish trip out of Morro Bay, through 20 ft. swells in a 24 ft. Boston Whaler, during which I don’t recall catching any fish. and somehow I fell in love with fishing.
Of the many friends I’ve made while fishing, one stands out. My friend Noah Strong and I have taken fishing to extremes just for the challenge. We know how to catch fish and we do it with regularity, many times without fail. We push the limits of our ability to catch fish. We use the lightest test, homemade poles and untested lures. We fish at inopportune times, in inappropriate places. We continually test our patience and exact our perseverance. We do all of this without expectation, which makes both successes and failures rewarding.
When my son asks me, “When can we go fishing Dad?” Without hesitation my response is “Where?” I’m not concerned with, “when”, I know we will go as soon as possible. I want to see where his imagination, where the limits of his patience will take him.
My objectives for fishing are not always driven by success, although mindless success like catching Bluegill or Mackerel hand over fist provides the perfect background for the most endearing moments. Fishing is an opportunity to get to know yourself and those around you.
Like many things in life fishing is what you make of it. I have made it a passion that has brought me many things. I owe the patience I had while counseling juvenile delinquents to fishing. Fishing has broadened my understanding of ecology and preservation, and given me rare and inspiring glimpses of nature. Fishing has brought me closer to family and friends. Gratefully, fishing has helped to create the person I am today.