Catch and Release

Photo Credit:  Brendan H. Banks

Photo Credit: Brendan H. Banks


It's hard to say how long I've been fishing. Hell bent on the cultivation of two New England poster boys, I know it was one of the skills (read: hobbies) my dad had made sure to impart by the time my brother and I were about 7. It feels like something I've always known how to do, though an honest peek into the livewell of my memory will reveal a less populated tank than you'd expect of a 'lifelong fisherman’.

Catching a fish– and subsequently landing one on shore– is a great feeling, especially when you’ve just angled your way to a legal, environmentally sustainable and wholesome dinner. For me though, fishing is much more about that which I experience standing at the water’s edge, rather than catching a fish itself. Within the world of outdoors-y folk, there may be no more predictable trope than: ‘fishing isn’t about catching a fish’. It also may be the most true.

Once arrived at my favorite fishing spots, often having played a semi-high stakes game of hopscotch to get there with two functioning ankles, I choose the lure or fly. Tied tightly to the squeaky-slick, nearly invisible line of my rig, I cast the artificial bait into the water.

Different methods of fishing require different methods of casting and retrieval of course, and there is meditative quality to all of them. Arch, whip, release, delivery, recovery; the subtle steps of a well executed cast all come together to bring concentration and clarity to the mind of the angler.

A tether having been established between the busyness of life beneath the surface and myself, I begin to fish.

It’s in this place, out among nature and surrounded by the residents therein, that I truly can allow myself to think and let my mind freely wander. Often it’s a private place to worry, unsure whether to love, hate or simply tolerate the reflection staring back at me. It’s a quiet place to celebrate and delight in my fortune; that I am here, doing this, right now. It’s where I come to scrutinize my work. It’s a somber place of remembrance and it’s a joyful place of commemoration. Trolling through a swirling sea of gratitude, ire, self-doubt and mirth, I analyze and maneuver around obstacles hoping to avoid a snag.

Then, sometimes, when the conditions are favorable and I’m sufficiently deceptive in the presentation of my lure, I catch a fish.