What does fishing mean to you?

The recent election season revealed a lot about people, perceptions and proclivities.

But we don’t talk politics in this space. You come here for fishing. So let me tell you one thing the election has taught me about fishing and fishers.

Among the lessons of the recent election is that we can look at the same picture and see different things. We can watch the same action and arrive at different conclusions. Whether we are comparing candidates or perusing a restaurant menu, we process words and images through our own unique set of filters.

So it is no wonder at all that even on a topic as defined as fishing, words and images can stand for whatever the beholder determines.

When I go fishing, I see the day as much as I experience it. I see the wide-open water, the edges of cover where big fish live and the sun and clouds and far-off horizon. I see the shimmer of heat and the sweat on my arm.

This past season I saw smiling friends, waves taller than the boat and lakes flat as pool tables, eagles soaring and deer sipping, and smallmouth bass twisting in aerial maneuvers framed by spray. I saw lures in colors from blaze orange to hot pink to high-vis chartreuse, not to mention the blues and browns and natural fishy-looking hues.

Words are heard and interpreted. Words form ideas. They describe scenes. They outline actions. But what you and I hear and interpret is totally up to us once the message has been sent.

We cannot be absolutely certain that a word as specific as “blue” means the same thing to all who hear it. Look at the color chart at the paint store. How many blues do you see?

When I write “flip,” I have an action in mind. But when you read my flip, I can only assume you are on the same page with me.

Even a bass is not a bass in every instance. And a perch is a species, but also a synonym for other fish as well as the twig where a bird lands.

When I write about making a flip for a bass, do you know I mean precisely placing a jig in a thick tangle of underwater cover where I suspect a largemouth is lurking?

I would hope so, but you also might think I did a somersault over a stringed instrument that produces certain sound.

It’s all about context. Mine and yours. We can only hope they intersect here every Saturday.

It is possible that readers of this column today will arrive at a thousand different places. The story I had in my head for you today may take you to wherever you allow it to go.

I’m thankful I fish. I get to the water more than many. Fishing means many things to me, for sure. I savor every moment of every trip.

Thanksgiving is coming. Regardless of what the word “fishing” means to you, take a moment to think about it. It may mean walleyes or perhaps muskies. It may mean casting into the breaking surf on a distant ocean beach or dropping a fly on a slick pool of an Alaskan stream. Or it may mean watching your children throw pebbles into the water.

Think about the rewards you have gained through fishing. Words and pictures will percolate through your filter as you think. Big or small, they have contributed to who you are.

For fishing and much more, we say thanks.


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