“You just let the fish go? I don’t see the point of all that effort if you don’t keep the fish you catch.”
This is a sentiment that I hear a lot in my sidebar fishing conversations in the work place or from the occasional passerby subjected to stories about my fishing exploits. I greatly exaggerate the size and even show them a few pictures only to hear them ask how the fish tasted. Folks will often look at me in bewilderment after hearing that the fish was released back to the water. For some it is unfathomable to consider the act of fishing satisfying enough all by itself. Without bringing the fish home to eat it is all just a waste of time. Then I show them a really good photo, maybe it was what I caught yesterday or best of the season so far.
“No way would I let something like that go. That fish would be dinner.”
My heart sinks as these words leave their lips of salivation. The fact this could possibly be a 10 or 20-year-old fish is of no consequence. Concerns regarding the health and quality of the sport overall have little or no bearing on why they are there. To them what matters is how many can they catch and do they taste good. Yet these same persons may participate in other sports where they get to take home very little at all.
The more I think about this the more it perplexes me and I wonder why other sports are viewed so differently. Take bowling for example. What if people started bagging up the rented shoes when they did well or made off with a few bowling pins if they got a strike? With little or nothing in the take home scene, why the heck is bowling so popular? I don’t hear anyone at the local Bowlarama ever saying things like, “As soon as I nail that 7-10 split I am getting one of those bowling pins mounted!” or “I’ll be disappointed if I go through all of these frames and only have two or three shoes on my stringer. The limit here is four.” Why does fishing have to be so different?
I submit the sport of golf as another prime example. This can be an expensive sport with pricey equipment options and greens fees that are fairly steep compared to my annual fishing license. There is a bit of walking involved similar to my style of fishing and the setting is in the beautiful outdoors (even if a bit manicured). There are a lot of aspects of golf that are similar to fishing but once again there is very little take home outside the experience of the sport itself. Golfers don’t get to keep the cart. They don’t get to take a piece of the green or fairway with them when they leave…so why go through all of that pain and anguish simply to smack a little white ball around? At one point I actually posed this question to one of my co-workers who just so happened to be an avid golfer.
“I like golf because it is relaxing and fun. There doesn’t have to be anything more to it than that.”
“Why can’t fishing be the same way?” I asked.
“Probably because golf balls don’t taste as good as some fish do.”
Ok, he had me there but it didn’t make me feel any better. He also offered the notion that there are aspects of sports such as baseball and football that allow fans to keep one or two token remnants of the game for posterity. I argued that this percentage is very low and I would greatly welcome that same standard for a few crowded places that are fished routinely.
At the end of the conversation neither side seemed to sway their opinion. We simply had to agree to disagree. This is where I often leave most debates before folks view me as even more of a fishing-lunatic than they already do. Tomorrow will be another day on the water. If someone lands a big fish it will most likely end up on a stringer to be frozen and eaten later…maybe. My passion for fishing optimum typically falls on deaf ears. At times this mentality makes me want to start mounting bowling pins for wall trophies, removing patches of sod from golf courses and try to find the “take home” in other sports. If anyone asks what I am doing I will simply say…
“Just trying to make it worthwhile. I didn’t come here to go home empty handed."
Good luck and good fishing.