Thursday, July 22, 2010


They say that, to men, fishing is not a matter of catching. There is no definitive measure of success to the average recreational fishermen. It is, instead, a journey of self-fulfillment.

If, by the luck of the sea, you manage to hook the big one, you become embedded in an age-old test of man versus nature. For those brief minutes, or hours if you're lucky, the only thing that separates you from the reassurance of your dominance at the top of the food chain is a thin filament of line and a seemingly insurmountable ocean of water. And, should you land this behemoth, for that brief second you are all that is man for you have defeated your foe in an otherwise primitive battle of strength, wits, and patience. However, should than line go slack right at what always seem to be the climax of your struggle, you have not lost, but merely made an enemy... and it's personal. Every cast is aimed at your new foe, every bait is given that special touch, all irrational yet impertinent superstitions are brought to the table, and every tug on the line is surely the one. Silly? Yes, but we are men, and to each and every one of us, this is a battle our ancestors started, and a war we intend to finish.

However, there is another side to this great journey we face on the open sea. We wake up early, kiss the wife despite her disapproving eyes, and set out to exile ourselves from that which plagues our inner beings. We are alone, or with our fellow sea-goers, on a vast plain of rolling waves beneath which lie the mysteries of the unknown and, for one day - one whole day - we, as the hard-working men we have become, find ourselves surrounded by nothing. For the next 8 hours, we sit on a boat with our favorite beverage, line in the water, and do one thing; Think. We ponder everything from work to yesterday’s choices. From the trucks impending transmission failure to that girl back in college. Sure, we may commiserate with our fellow men, but the real conversation exists in an unheard dialogue between the sea at which we stare, and ourselves. All the while, unless it’s the “one that got away”, we could honestly care less what is happening to the bait resting on the sandy bottom. In fact, to hook a fish would detract from the progress we’ve made on visualizing our greatest fantasies. The only battle we are willing to engage in today is keeping our refreshment cold, for these 8 hours are ours to discover our inner man. If the day is spent doing nothing, then it’s a good day too.

You see, fishing is not called catching. Success falls upon the individual’s hopes for the day. Either way we always return home having gained something. Men have been fishing before man developed the skills to tell fish stories.

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
– Henry David Thoreau

Richard Whitener, of Powhatan, Virginia, watches his fishing rod for any indication that a fish may be at the other end while aboard the Rockin-n-Robin in the Chesapeake Bay. The Rock-n-Robin is a charter boat based out of Reedville, Va and, with captain Robin Sue behind the helm, frequently takes trips into the bay in search of all sorts of sport fish. News21 photo by Jason Lenhart

Photo © Jason Lenhart

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