I have fished for as long as I can remember, but I have never hunted. It occurred to me the other day, while fishing, why I don’t have much desire to look down the sights at a deer and pull a trigger. For one thing, I have no desire to kill a large mammal, but there is more to it.
I have caught fish by sighting on them and then ‘aiming at them’, but the vast majority of fish that I have caught, I have caught by assuming there would be a fish in a certain place and fishing that place in hopes that my assumption was correct. There is an important distinction there.
When you aim at something and shoot it, you have already made the connection. You have seen the animal. It may have seen you. When you find a deep, shady spot where you assume a fish will be and catch one there, there are several things at play. One, you guessed right. But perhaps more importantly, you are connected, in a split second, to another world.
There is something to this. When you feel the fish strike and set the hook, the line goes tight and, all of a sudden, you are bound to a world you cannot see and know very little about. Through the fishing line, you are connected to a fish, who is, in turn, connected to a human who lives in a dry world that the fish knows very little about. It is a strange bond to say the least.
Actually fighting the fish is fun. But there is nothing like that first burst of adrenaline. And I think a lot of it has to do with the notion that one second you are floating a lure/bait/etc and the next second there is a live, flopping creature there instead of (or in addition to) said bait or lure.
Fishing by sight is hard because you have to get close enough to see them, and that usually means they can see you, too. There are no fish blinds where you can sit and sip coffee and wait for a big trout to swim by and then shoot a line at it relatively certain that you might be successful.
No, fishing by sight is an art of quiet and deception. All fishing is deception, and I enjoy it all. But I think I particularly enjoy it when I don’t expect it. When I am standing with all my attention focused on the line and where it enters the water and the feel of it in my hands and then...BAM…suddenly, I am attached to a creature from the deep.
I am not saying that you need to agree with me, and I am not making a play at disparaging hunters. I am merely trying to convey to you something that I thought about recently, standing thigh deep in water, waiting to see if I’d guessed right or not. Waiting to see if that connection was about to be made and if, for a brief moment, I might get to attach myself to the world underneath the water.