Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sketching Trout With Thoreau

Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.
~ Henry David Thoreau ~
A few of us angling addicts think we know why we fish.  Its the same reason that my buddy spends $35 - $50 a week for a round of golf.  We enjoy it.  But when I ran across this quote the other day I began to question the true reason I fish.  There is no better feeling than hooking into some cutthroat or brown in a deep pool, or watching the areal take of a rising brookie or the smashing power of a bonefish taking a fly. But, is there more to it than the hook-up?
  As I was passing the time the other day and sketching this brown, I pondered that question.  I tried as hard as I could to convince myself that I fish for the beauty of the experience   For the chance to be out in nature.  To enjoy the solitude of a lonely mountain stream or placid country pond.  I told myself it was the beauty of the journey that kept me coming back.  Maybe it truly didn't matter if I ever caught another fish. Old Henry D. had opened a door.  It was a new way to look at why I fished.  It wasn't the fish, it was everything else.
    Then as I finished touching up the sketch, I put down my pencil and thought to myself, 'maybe Henry never had a morning full of hatches and leaping fish.  Maybe he never held a brightly colored brookie in his hand.  Maybe he never felt the tug of a monster taking a woolly from the deep, and maybe Mr. Thoreau never spent a  ten hours on a bone chilling river with leaky waders and not a single bite to show for it.'  If he had he would know that it sucks.
    It IS the fish we are after otherwise we would just be another guy on a nature hike.  Now don't go unhinged.  I love backpacking as much as any guy on the AT or PCT but when I go fishing, I go to catch fish.  We can enjoy all that goes with catching the fish but in the end without actually hooking into fish... Whats the point.  If you disagree, I know a place you can donate all your fishing gear.  In return I'll give you trail map and a bag of granola


Mark Kautz said...

I think you're right in a lot of ways. I fish for three reasons. One, to catch fish, two to gather in the surroundings, and three to share it all with those few that read what I write.


walt franklin said...

Sorry, but I think you may be missing the point with regard to the quote. If you read Henry closely, you'll know it wasn't a matter of either or. He enjoyed fishing (even for trout)but he knew there was more to a place than simply the catch. Thanks for bringing this up.

Peter Patenaude said...

It is like hiking a mountain with a road and trail option- you are hiking to reach the top, but if it was only about seeing the view at the summit, you would drive.

Unknown said...

Mark - I'm with you. And I appreciate you sharing your experiences.

Walt - As I read over it again, I may need to clarify. My point is I often hear people saying at the end of a fishless day on the water that it wasn't about catching fish, it was just about being out in nature. (If you read my past posts I am sure I even tried to use this rational to easy my disappointment ) my point is that its the totality of the experience but without actually catching fish.... What's the point. That being said, if all I wanted was to catch fish then I'd just drop in a mass of hooks and corn and bag my limit instead of fly fish and practice catch and release.

Peter - wonderfully put. That is why I tie my own flies, search for isolated blue lines, and carry a 4w. In the end though, if I set out to hike to the summit and never reach it, all the experience of hiking the tough trail is lost. Sure you grow as person but you still never saw the view from the top.

Wow, that all got fairly philosophical didn't it. I may need to cut back the coffee intake

Blake said...

this is getting pretty deep, all i know is i love to catch fish and enjoy the investment that it takes for me to get there, wonderful art, thanks

Unknown said...

Blake - I almost had to break out the waders with how deep it got there. Maybe I should just stick to subjects I know about: Fish and Art. Thanks for the visit & good luck with the salmon.

cofisher said...

I love this discussion. I for one (believe it or not)fishing for whole experience with or without a fish at the end of the day. Don't get me wrong I love fishing but it isn't the be all end all. That's why I trout fish...the beautiful outdoor experience in Colorado. Beautiful drawing Joel I hope you finish it out. I need one.

Dad said...

Another good post.

Watch out you are really getting philosophical.
I would hope that a part of the reason you love to fish is because you mom and I taught you to appreciate nature. Plus when I think back we did a lot of fishing over the years you were growing into the fine man you are today.
God Bless Son