As fisher people and lovers of the outdoors we are pretty resilient people. We have to endure the elements, and criticism, on a regular basis in pursuit of the things and places we love.
The outdoors can be a hard place to relax, much less feel like home. We are not exactly made for it. We have no natural protection from the elements. We have no natural defense against predators. We have no natural weapons. Most of the actual instincts we are born with are forgotten or taught they are wrong. Sadly, if you put most people out there with only their wits to survive, they would perish very quickly.
Then there are the ones of us who love the outdoors. We not only enjoy being out there, but we also thrive out there. I personally feel more connected to God when I’m out there enjoying his creation. The balance of things and all the diversity has always seemed like proof enough of a divine plan. I thank Jesus all the time for allowing me to be here. Occasionally he even lets me catch a fish or two.
But recently, after reading an article I completely disagreed with, it occurred to me that some people don’t view the fisher people and outdoors people in the same light as we do. Some people might think we are a little off because we love the outdoors. They seem to prefer to stay as far away from the world as God intended as they can.
Some people think we are crazy for believing in Jesus as well. They’ll come around to our ways of seeing things eventually. But one thing outdoors people are NOT is crazy. We just look like we enjoy living. Maybe a little too much.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. They will actually lock you away if you stick to the same plan long enough and don’t produce any results. In some jobs they just fire you for this, which I guess is better than being locked away for being crazy. I'm blessed that God gave me a vocation I truly love.
Then I realized they might have defined that wrong.
I’m not saying they're not crazy people in the world. There are. If you haven't realized this yet, please don’t go looking for them. Keep your blinders on and live the way you have been, ignorant of what’s around you. It’s a lot safer that way. Innocence is a virtue that should be cherished. Don’t look around a certain big chain “we have everything” store. There is really no dress code. Unfortunately, no common sense either. Except for the ones buying fishing stuff. They usually stand out as the only people there who have any clue what’s really going on. I like to think we look like that all the time. Even if it is only learned behavior. Eventually everyone else will come around to our ways. Eventually.
I thought long and hard about the definition of insanity before the epiphany hit me.” I make a lot of casts that don’t get any bites, but I keep expecting to catch something.”
By that definition all fisher people might be insane. That’s why it stayed on my mind: twisting, turning, never relenting, it became an obsession that warped. LOLOLOLOL. That’s how a lot of crazy stories start off. There is not one fishing story that starts or ends like that.
I know a lot of fisher people. If there is one thing they are not, it's insane. We are some of the most determined, good-hearted people on the planet. If you break down in a boat the first one that comes by will stop and ask you if everything is OK.
Good luck on the interstate with that.
We also care about the state of the planet. We want it to last for future generations and hope it will be an even better world for them. So how can people think we might be a little off.
So, the problem must be in the definition.
If we never caught anything I might agree that fishing would be crazy. We could cast in the yard if we weren’t trying to catch fish.
I do cast in the yard but it’s to practice casting, not to catch fish. We know we won’t catch a fish casting in the yard.
But it would be so cool if I did.
If we never caught anything is the key to it. Because sometimes we do. Occasionally, God lets us catch one. Sometimes it’s a record size, whatever fish, that even we can’t believe we just pulled in. But it does happen.
Sometimes we catch fish.
So, what happened with all the other people who were thought to be crazy for doing the same thing over and over? Maybe they just didn’t have enough time to succeed. I’ll have to think about that on a case-by-case basis. There really are some crazy people in this world.
Then I remembered something else. The only difference in genius and insanity is the end result.
Now were getting somewhere.
Fisher people must be geniuses. Kind of.
We have gotten smart enough to catch fish. We thrive in the beautiful places that God created and luckily have been kept unchanged. No one doubts there are some beautiful places and things to do outdoors. It is an amazing world that everyone should enjoy and be part of. We were just the ones God put there to help bring others back to what really matters in this world and how to live a good life.
Most of us do live pretty good lives. Not because we are rich, or famous, or gifted, or anything special. We just appreciate the good places and good parts of this world and living a good life, more than others do.
For now. Anyway,
But something went wrong with some things or some people trying to prove we are not crazy or that others should join us.
It wasn't enough to just bring them home and share a good meal with people we care about. Telling stories about our adventures. Any of the things we do to inspire others to see the world in a better light.
Catch and release: we enjoy being out there and catching a fish is just a bonus. I don't always want to take them home. Maybe this is where it went wrong. Somebody came home with nothing and said they let it go to be caught by someone else and somebody thought they were crazy and hadn't really caught anything.
It's understandable, some people use fishing as an excuse to get away from certain other people and don't really go fishing. We can work with these people later: They already want to get away. We just need to teach them the right way of doing this. But I think it did have a small part in this trophy problem.
In our endeavor, and it is still one we all share, to bring others to the outdoors and fishing, we started requiring proof of what we could do and why they should do it too.
We started making trophies. Mounting fish, which I’m sorry but that is a little crazy.
Mounted fish? What?
I’m sure everybody has been in the tackle shop or someone's house only to look on the wall and behold a usually rather large specimen of whatever type of fish they are representing. I admit they are usually quite impressive- ish. I’m just not sure I understand the reasoning for it.
Don’t get me wrong, I don't always catch and release fish. I eat them too. Which is where my problem with this comes in. The fish on the wall would usually have been delicious. Most of them would have been a good meal for a few people. I’ve always been more excited when I was invited over to EAT fish, rather than SEE fish.
I can look at fish anywhere. Especially now. There’s more cut and paste pictures on social media of people who clearly have no idea how to catch a fish, than I can block in a single day. But I keep trying. So do they, unfortunately.
I’m not exactly sure what some of those Fishing pictures are really supposed to be marketing anyway. I know something in them is for sale, I’m just not sure what.
I’m being polite. I am not interested in those types of trophies either.
I’ll make it brief: I would rather see the picture of the fish you caught as you release it, than to see it frozen, and un-eaten, on the wall.
Is it some kind of torture I don’t understand?
If so, it works.
If you have to mount something on the wall, mount the bones and a picture of the fish fry you had. I can live with that.
Or even better mount lures and pictures of ALL the fish that it caught. That might actually be an idea a start doing.
But why the wall? If you were going to make a perfectly bad example of what the outdoors is about, why not make it a centerpiece of the table. Here’s what we should have been eating, instead we got, whatever this processed food thing is.
Again, just put the picture of that giant in the middle of the table, and serve the fish you bought at the store, and tell everybody it’s that one. It’s a new form of catch and release. Still not as crazy as mounting them.
Mounting fish is wasteful and a bit insane, at least to me. Mount pictures, either let the fish go, or eat it. Simple.
As fishermen and lovers of the outdoors we sometimes like to remember our victories. We know it’s stacked against us, we know fish don’t want to be caught. That’s why we tell stories. Most people won’t believe us anyway. We usually have to have witnesses. Pictures work just as good, but a meal works even better.
So, when somebody asks do you remember that fish, so and so had on the wall?
Stop them immediately.
Silence them quickly.
Correct them with a quick “NO”.
“I saw pictures of ones he caught in someplace and I’m going to go try”
” Do you remember?”
“But I do remember how that one tasted”
Enough is enough.
Eat well my fellow fisher people. And take pictures of the ones we let live to be part of someone else's story. Share with the ones you care about as well as the ones not yet part of our world. They’ll come around.
God bless us all.