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I found this in the Herald-Sun. It says it all...

Hawkins: A simple question: Why fish?

By JASON HAWKINS : The Herald-Sun
[email protected]
May 11, 2002 : 5:52 pm ET

Sitting on a boat a few weeks ago on Falls Lake, I had an inspiration.

We had battled a stiff northeast wind at the start of the trip, which created a hardship while trying to drift and fish.

The argument that the boat had with the wind was a losing battle from the beginning.

It was a deceiving day, one in which the sun was perched high in the sky with a few clouds dancing lonely above, and the temperature hovered between shorts and jeans.

Fishing that day was more like playing a waltz at a disco lounge. You just kind of hoped that the music would soon stop so the real fun finally could begin.

After the battle was fought on the water, we pulled the lines in and retreated to the natural landscape of a cove, which is always like entering church a bit late. You feel as if all eyes are on you, and the room is mysteriously quiet.

We slowed the boat into a trance-like approach as the waves gently graced the shoreline. The once choppy, uncooperative water was now like a calm creature inviting lost souls to enjoy its healing powers.

At that time, we started to fish.

It was a day of contrasting scenes. Earlier, our efforts on the rough water were not met with much success, but we marched on like an army from the sea. Now, we had reached a pool of beauty. The fishing almost disturbed it.

The water had retreated to a mirror-like finish, and now we sat as the lone cause for disruption in the life of the small cove. Each time a fish was pulled from the water, it caused a commotion that irritated the serenity and true calmness of the cove's personality.

The fish, as cooperative as they usually aren't, actually took our lures and bait. So, we had accomplished our goal - catching fish.

Irony, you see, is a wise old man who follows us along our many paths and roads in the outdoors. What once appeared as a day wasted on the water, playing tug-of-war with nature, was now rewarded with a fine creel of fish and a nice dinner.

But those fish in the cooler didn't satisfy me. Instead, it was that moment when the sun retreated and gave way to a dazzling array of color, shapes and shades in the distant sky.

Standing in the boat, watching the gentle tug of a line as it was being trolled, I heard a distant sound. Somewhere beyond the soft laughter of waves on the shore, the harmony of the birds in a distant meadow echoed the sound of bells. It was music.

The music was not just a rhapsody of melodies but a movement. The bells sounding gently from a steeple nestled alongside a green pasture was soothing my soul and the world around me. Suddenly, I realized through the adversity of the day just how important this thing called fishing is to my happiness.

Could it be replaced? Could another corner of the world offer the tranquility and medicinal solitude as this cove? Was this an isolated experience, one that I could bring back only during a dream or as pen graces paper?

My answer arrived a week later.

Irony, you recall, is a gentleman whom I know. We visit from time-to-time outdoors. I consult him, and he offers insight and meaning. I watch him evolve through the outdoors, and he allows me to convey that in story.

Irony is my favorite fishing partner, and he and I were aboard a vessel headed east to the ocean deep.

Leaving the dock that morning we were greeted by nature's wrath. The waves tossed the boat, as if to say, "You're not welcome here." The rain fell on us as if to wash us away, while the clouds showed an ominous side - the kind an artist paints to show just how bad the sea can be.

After two hours of absorbing this punishment, we arrived at our destination, and my solitude.

The storm was behind us, and the only challenge was to fish - if you consider that a challenge at all.

The day progressed with many great moments. There were nice fish placed in the cooler and memorable fights and fish lost as well. Yet, as I sat looking into the sky, unsure of the direction, unsure of the location and unsure of the sea, I was sure of one aspect of my life - my happiness.

Again, I heard the music: not bells from a distant hillside, but the music of the sea, heard clearly over the roar of diesel engines and the sloshing of the wake.

Nature lures me into its spellbinding ways and keeps me attentive to ever-changing scenes and landscapes. Fishing, though done for many reasons, simply lures me to life.

Watching the water turn from an ocean blue to a deep green, just within a few waves, is a canvas.

Of course, we always have to weather a storm before we "catch something" or reach our goals.

Sometimes, the storms drive us away from our goal, but we press on, fishing a ledge or grass line without a bite.

Anglers participate in a life called fishing. It is never certain, and it promises nothing.

The sea and lakes can change within a matter of minutes. A cove that once was tranquil and full of life can turn into a quick-moving, relentless spring storm.

The sea, with its hidden treasure below the surface, can place a dagger of fear in your back.

Would we enjoy it the same if it were called "catching?"

As anglers, we always are searching for one more bite and one more challenge. Some anglers thrive on catching a few bass that lead to a large purse of money, while others seek a seat in a fighting chair on the back of a boat, latched onto a marlin as it dances across the water to the sound of line screaming off the reel.

A fly fisherman may yearn for perfecting the art of approaching a stream with graceful stealth. He notices a break in the water near a shallow pool, and then floats a fly through the air, landing a tantalizing insect in front of a mountain trout.

For some, it's taking others on a trip to the water that is the lure, viewing the reaction of a youngster with his first pan fish on a cane pole.

In this age of fast and faster boats and high-tech gadgets, I take pleasure in knowing they will never replace what has lured me to fish - irony.

I associate each bad day of fishing with one that is bountiful and fulfilling. In life, I can see past a bad storm and know that a good day is only a matter of time.

What lures me is the knowledge that all I sense will be placed on a sheet of music in my head, which I can sing and hear again and again while recalling the moment.

As we advance into the late spring and summer months ahead, ask yourself: "Why do I fish?"

"A bad day fishing is better than a good day at the office," for sure, but what is it that truly lures you to the water?

For me, it is the bells ringing from the grassy hillside and the movement of colors along the Gulf Stream.

Each of those trips saw its hardships, and each of those trips saw its rewards.

Jason Hawkins' column appears each Sunday in the Outdoors section of The Herald-Sun. Contact him by e-mail at [email protected].

10,712 Posts
Wow!!! That was great!!!

In the past I owned a 16' aluminum boat, a glorified row boat.

I would try to be the first boat out on Great South Bay. With the sun coming up over the horizon gently warming me and the bay like a mirror, this is where I have felt the closest to GOD!

Seeing a just born child or grand child is a simular experience for me.

Capt Neil

3,127 Posts

Hi Neil-
I believe I fished with you a number of times on the ace or prowler-
It seems to me that even after Docs dismal forcast of the state of the fishing community, there are some true fisherman out there after all

10,712 Posts

Hi, Yes, you did with me in Port Jeff.

This year I am splitting my time between the Shinne**** Star in Hampton Bays and the Capt Whittaker at Captree. Stop by and say hello if ever at those docks.

Capt Neil
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