Sometimes I wish I could say fishing isn’t nearly as philosophical as we make it out to be, that fishing is merely a hobby, and the end result is all we look for. No, actually, I don’t wish I could say that. If I did, and if I was willing to, then the insanity I have been blessed with is not that of obsession, but, just, plain insanity. Does that make any sense?
So it's philosophical, and I treat it as such.
I’m not a “put a check-mark on a list” guy, but I am a variety guy. I don’t like trudging to the same stretch of stream, to swing flies to the same fish. I don’t like the same fence row of flooded hedge trees day in and day out no matter how hot the bite is. I like change, I thrive in change, something different, new, and obscure.
At school, this is hard to come by. Each day is quite literally laid out for me. The alarm sounds at seven, I hit snooze twice, get up at seven twenty, then a shower, coffee, breakfast if I have any, a short drive to campus, and class. After class, I do homework, after homework I study, and after I study I relax. I relish in these few hours of relaxation, the few hours I can do something completely disconnected with school, anything, or more often than not, nothing. The weekends tend to be more of the same, just with a bit more time to relax that’s often swallowed up by late nights, and even later mornings.
Still, I find time to fish if only because I have to, and if I don’t I’d almost certainly go insane.
So a buddy of mine and I threw a couple of cheap rental kayaks in the back of his old S-10 and an hour and a half later threw them in a small country lake just outside a small country town in southern Missouri. We’d crossed better smallmouth water, driven by better largemouth water, and crappie water, to get there because we were hunting something new, variety, chain pickerel.
Chain pickerel are a type of esox, which basically means a type of pike, or long snake-like fish that's slimy, toothy, and has an attitude that is truly unfortunate. And it’s that unhindered attitude that makes them some much fun to fish for because they love well-placed flies, almost as much as poorly placed flies, and well-crafted flies, almost as much as long strips of yarn tied to a 2/0 bait hook with sewing thread. They’re simple, easy even, just put something, anything, in front of them and strip it quickly.
So we’d caught several fish by mid-afternoon. Keeping pace with the wind was far more difficult than the fishing, and aside from an oddly shaped sunburn stenciled painfully across my exposed legs everything was going well, everything was relaxing. I lobbed the Clouser minnow into the grassy bank again and begun to strip it out slowly hopping it through the deeper drop off fully expecting a take. And, there he was, right on cue. I set the hook and pulled him to the surface where he jumped a few times before succumbing rather anticlimactically to my leverage.
With my rod, I guided him to the left side of my kayak where I scooped him up with my left hand and held him out for my friend to see. He’d taken the fly in deep, and I was relaxed. It wasn't stupidity, or arrogance, or even ignorance it was simply relaxation. I let my guard down for a moment, and it happened. I stuck a couple of fingers in his mouth to retrieve my torn up bend back and he clamped down on them like a snapping turtle. He bit the %$@* out of me, and I had to pry his mouth open with my forceps to get him off.
How can you not take fishing philosophically? Everything means, well, everything, and it all is important. You let your guard down for one second in life, and a chain pickerel sinks five needle-sharp teeth a centimeter deep into your index finger.