What fishing means to me

Saturday morning. The coffee tastes better on Saturday mornings as another week goes in the books and work is just a four-letter word.

Our weekend spreads out in front of us like a clean tablecloth on a shaded table soon to be laden with the tastiest potato salad, BBQ chicken, grilled burgers, sliced tomatoes and ice-cold beer.

For anglers, the weekend is delectable. I bounce out of the bunk before the alarm sounds on Saturday mornings and love to launch the boat just as the sky brightens.

That’s my plan most Saturdays – to be on the water and walking a topwater bait even before you’ve made coffee and found your Vindicator.

Fishing is many things to many people. It’s not always complicated, but it can be. It’s not always productive, but it can be. And it’s not even always interesting, but more often than not it can be.

Fishing can be a passion, diversion or a pain in the butt. Some people fish because they can’t imagine life without going to the lake. Some fish to forget other matters. Some fish to eat. A few, frankly, aren’t exactly sure why they fish, but they do. Perhaps it’s just to get out of the house.

For many, fishing becomes a mental place as much as a physical pursuit. They go there to be happy, to gain perspective, to add meaning.

But fishing isn’t always more than, well, fishing. It isn’t always – or perhaps even often – an existential exercise. It’s not exactly “Waiting for Godot,” but (sorry, Samuel Beckett) fishing can be a tragicomedy.

I think it breaks out this way: As I go about the various motions, I am fishing. When I catch something, I am fishing. When I pause to think or analyze for strategic purposes, I am fishing.

Recently I went to the lake with high hopes. I almost always have my optimism at full volume as I launch the boat.

The day dawned fresh and humid. It wasn’t hot, but the air was the kind of sticky that I’ve come to learn can be a very good sign.

I shoved away from the dock and soon popped the electric motor from its stowed position and throttled the propeller to pull me along a rip-rap bank. A few cars buzzed past on the highway atop the causeway and a heron took flight when the BassCat approached too close for the bird’s comfort.

The flooded rocks produced no fish, which was puzzling, but not cause for panic.

I moved to a different spot and fished hard with lures I’d proved a thousand times in the past to be productive in similar situations.

But still no fish bit. A 30-inch musky followed my lure, but veered off to look for something real to eat.

My third stop finally yielded a small bass. Not exactly what I was seeking, but at least it had broken the ice. Or so I thought.

The balance of my day went just about the same as the first couple hours. Long stretches of unproductive casts punctuated by the occasional little fish.

It was one of those days when fishing was, well, just fishing. But that’s just fine with me because the rest of the weekend picnic was still out there to be enjoyed.


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