Fishing is a time when I acknowledge that I am not different from the world, and that I am a part and parcel of the whole. I am not greater than the stones in the stream or the fish I hunt.
This part of the world, here in the Pacific Northwest, the Snoqualmie Valley, is amazing because it is so crowded with life. The environment is so welcoming - lots of water, enough sun, and not too cold in the winter. A strong contrast with the other side of the cascades where the ground is often bare between the trees.
The next day we take a drive over by Throp in Eastern Washington to a small creek that only sees a little sun in the winter - lying on the cool north side of the ridge.
I am grateful for so many things -the there where I have been in the past, and the there - where I trust that it all shall remain in the future, but mostly for the now where I am. - and here's the good part - the now is always.
Here I am at the young age of maybe 40ish... with a Jack in Florida. Why do I get a different reaction to this picture than the one below? What a nice tan, eh?
I am standing in the boat with my guide years ago and saying, I’m not one of those people who say I don’t care if I catch any fish or not, I just love being outdoors. I wanna catch fish. He laughs and replies - most of those people are lying.
Diana, also know as Artimes, points out that there is always an issue with fishing - it IS aggressive, it IS predatory. Why else would you chase fish about and grab them out of the water? Stalking the fish is the fun part – There is excitement in the “ah-ha – fooled you!” part when your trick them in to biting a well presented fly. It is about your ego, your whole mind, your whole body, it is about interacting with wild animals, interacting with the wild world, and mostly, it is about being a human being.
Still, I recall someone did a study to see if it fish felt pain when you hooked them. It certainly hurts when I hook myself – sometimes a lot – and I have been particularly glad I use barbless hooks on a few occasions over the years. I understand however, fish don’t have much in terms of short term memory - the Dory the Fish character is based on that notion – but, yeah, it’s gotta hurt a lot.
Me with a Salmon in a box - is it good or bad to be in the box was the question? That and why is the reaction different to this photo than the one of the younger me? See the blog before this one for the pic of the really big guy.
Will this little guy be okay when I put him back in the river? I try and take a really quick photo...
My muse - Dianna - the Goddess of the Hunt. Although now pure white - many believe the statues were originally painted bright colors. This Goddess is vibrant and alive - not bleached out.
Diana, right back on target, tells me there is an old saying, Hunting and Fishing are Sports – everything else is a game. There is a lot here. I let it sink in.
Fishing is some kind of instinct and that is one of the big reasons we like it. It’s serious business of being an animal on the planet. It’s not just to enjoy the scenery – it’s to tap into something essential in our make-up. To say it’s just some part of ‘ego’ as if that’s selfish and bad is, well, superficial at best. I admit I do get a rush out of a fish. And a big fish is way cool. Okay. It is about my ego – is that bad?
There’s a comedian my son quoted who makes a joke about one fish waiting impatiently for another – when the second fish arrives he says - sorry I’m late, I got caught up.
Still some folks say the fish probably won’t survive catch and release anyway – not to mention that the rivers are so overburdened with people in this twenty-first century and that the ecosystem is in danger. This Facebook commenter was, in fact, reacting to very real concerns about fishing. Concerns all of us who fish - with our eyes open - share. And I appreciate that and so I am thinking about it and writing about it. There are serious issues here.
Is the Plexiglas box a good or bad thing? Does it give the fish a chance to calm down and recover much in the same way we hold a trout in the water until it swims away? Or is it just more time out of the water that leads to certain death? I don’t know, but I’d like to know more about this. He suggested I take the next picture with the fish in the net beside the boat – but would that give the fish time to recover from the tug of war?
If we care about the sentience of creatures, and do not think them merely beast machines, then maybe we should stop hunting them down. Probably should become vegetarians while we’re at it. Or do we care only that we keep enough fish on hand so we can catch them – much like duck hunters protect wetlands. Is our concern about the population or the individual – or both?
I know my pets – and I believe all animals – lead complicated lives full of feeling and even wonder. Still I know animals eat other animals and we’re in this together. It can get weird if you think too hard. If fish are 'people' too, and people are just animals – and we are - like all life on the planet, all sentient beings, is it okay to fish? Can we catch fish and not hurt them? No, we cannot. Getting caught up is not fun for the fish - but fish live tough lives - think about the salmon swimming up river. That's painful. Is my hook just another obstacle in their path?
Again Diana speaks up. She tells me to go with my instincts here – go out and fish. But that being said, and being a goddess, she has a bigger picture to share with me. She tells me we do need to use the rational part of our brains to work to honor each animal by treating the individual well and at the same time protect and enrich their environment and make life better for their species.
The important thing here, as far as I can see, is to find a way to be part of the puzzle of life on the planet. To take the large view – see with Diana’s eyes. That would help with so much – to believe we are merely a tiny part of a greater whole. And not the master of the planet who feel that animals are here for our use.
It might also help on a personal level.
The commenter wrote back after I posted a reply and said he was sorry for saying mean things to me. He said he didn’t know why he picked my photo out of all the ones he’s seen with fish in plastic boxes.
But I know.
He picked me because I was no threat to him. As an older woman I am no longer of any interest to him. I am not young enough to be attractive and thereby have some power over him, nor am I a man who might be a rival of his authentic angler self.
The good news is it gives me a chance to post an old photos I like.
None the less, it's a puzzle.
I believe that part of going out to fish is to try and find just how I fit in. Every time I go out I learn more.
Me as Dianna. Learning Never Ends.
No catch and Release hunting -- but these birds were raised to be hunted on a preserve in NY state circa 1995 ? Remember Polaroid pictures?
I first started fly fishing in NY state sometime around 1985 ... mostly I fish in the Snoqualmie Forks -- very small trout but very fun to catch and release. I'm pretty much a home river person - that being said I've had a few fishing adventures. Currently I'm trying some new places on both sides of the Cascades.