Very few avenues in life provide the opportunity for fellowship, enlightenment and enchantment the way that fishing does.
Those of us that have spent a life of pursuit in the outdoors know an enrichment that few may ever experience. Sunrises and sunsets and everything in between to which few will ever bear witness in the hustle and bustle of their daily lives.
I have spent a large portion of my life in pursuit of things I cannot see. Some would call that the definition of faith. I consider it an exercise of merging faith with a devotion to a craft.
It has taken most of my life to realize the fulfillment of faith in the unseen is really why I fish. It is not the fish, but the experience that binds us, spiritually in a sense. Faith in that which we cannot see and devotion to perfecting the craft of tempting the unseen. We strive to master the fluidity of our movements while honing the precision of our details. To conquer a series of moments with wild creatures which we cannot control.
The ailments of age altered my perspective on things. There is a freedom found only in the escape I seek on the water. Free from worry, doubt, fear, disappointment, rejection — reality. Fishing delivers a forgetfulness of reality, and that's when I feel freest.
I toiled in the competition with man around the pursuit of the wild only to realize the competition with self was the only true path to fulfillment for me in the outdoors. "Mine is bigger." "I caught more today." It all tainted the pure passion for pursuit I once had.
My single motive anymore is to figure them out better, in more creative ways than the trip before. Matching an overlooked location to a better technique hopefully that others have missed on highly pressured waters motivates me to study, practice, and experiment more.
Not so hung up on the misses, like in my youth, I will have a few days without many fish, but I relish in the fact that I've done it the way I wanted to with the tools of my choosing, untainted by the talk of other anglers.
In doing so, I've found a new appreciation for the tools like a high-end rod that makes a presentation more precise and a fight with a fish more enjoyable. Much like an archer in feudal Japan was married to the precise bend in his bow and the tension of his string, I find a kinship now with certain fishing rods. Same for my reels. And the tools can make a day without much action, an enjoyable experience.
Likewise fishing with very large swimbaits has added to my rekindling in recent years. While I've had some crazy experiences and catches already, I've had enough close calls with what I would call the apex fish in a lake, that it keeps me seeking and dreaming off the water as much as on it. And that is where fishing cures my soul.
As we toil in our daily tasks and tribulations of life, those close calls, memorable catches and experiences from the wild give brief escapes to bridge the gaps between the time in pursuit and time escaping in anticipation of the next pursuit. I reckon none of us will get what we perceive to be a fair shot at this life, but hopefully we find a lifetime of fulfillment in the pursuit of fish by improving the quality of the each moment spent on the water.