On a Day Without Fish: Reflecting on the Best thing about Them

The simplest thing about fishing is the best: you can't fake a fish.
The simplest thing about fishing is the best: you can’t fake a fish.

Out here on the road, immersed in everything angling, you can’t help but wonder what it is about the sport that has and continues to draw people from all walks of life to it, and I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know any more than the next guy, so I’m certainly not here to preach any wisdom from on high some throne of experience.

I have been fortunate enough to fish a great many places, from the northern reaches of Maine down through the wonderful beaches of New Jersey (that were beautiful and fishy enough that I called them home for a while) to the blissful Outer Banks to the slooowed dooown, methodical and graceful backwaters of Georgia, out to the wide-open amazing expanses of Montana and Wyoming and into the bass-crazy havens hidden in California, and especially here in Florida, where you’d be hard pressed to find a place that’s not fishy in some sense. Thanks to guys at Bass Online, I’m experiencing the bass capital in a whole new way.

And I know what I love most about the sport, and what I think draws so many of us to it, is that there’s simply no “faking it.” In so many arenas in life, whether it’s testing our intelligence, strength or courage, there are shortcuts and trapdoors and loopholes that might make us appear greater than we truly are.

But with fishing, there’s only the fish, the true test of our abilities and our understanding of the world in which they live and the measure of our capacity to bring them, if only briefly, into ours… even if just for a picture.

And in fishing we find this genuine, “can’t-fake-it” arena where there’s some hard-sought but rarely found legitimacy that’s sorely lacking in other parts of our lives.

The water and the fish are the measure of everything about us in this one small slice of life.

And as a writer, if you’ve something to say, in time you’ll learn someone has likely captured the sentiment better than you possibly could and the best you can do is find him and quote him.

As a fishing writer, you’ll find that that someone is often John Gierach. In his book No Shortage of Good Days, he writes: “Life is an unruly mess and ideals are hard to hold onto, but fishing is an isolated enough slice of it that there’s the hope we can do this one small thing perfectly.”

And being absolutely unable to improve upon or add to that sentiment, I’ll leave you with it.

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