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Why do we do it?


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Ronan's report

Thursday 29th January, 2009

Just a relatively quick FP this week (hard to imagine, I know) consisting of vague musings as I'm busy getting ready to go down to Middlemarch for the South Island Conclave. I'm really looking forward to it and it will be great to meet some Loopers for the first time and catch up with some others I've met before.

So why do we do it? The whole fishing bit, I mean. I understand why some others do it, but I'm not really sure why I do it. Perhaps by the time I finish writing this I'll know!

I know why I like tying flies. I like making stuff, it's something I've always done. My job involves making intangible things (software), although I'm formally trained in making tangible things (boats). If I was unable to go fishing I'd still happily tie flies.

I have a pretty good idea why I like casting. I find it relaxing (most of the time!) and the focus when I'm practising is a nice distraction from work. I like the feel of it and the goals to work toward - further, more accurately, wigglier. Improving at casting means I enjoy my fishing more. If I couldn't go fishing I'm not sure I'd carry on with it, I'd probably spend the time on something else like my neglected guitar.

Fishing itself though? I'm not sure.

I'm not a big hunter. I don't feel compelled to hunt things. Although fishing was a big part of my life up until 15 or so, I didn't miss it when I stopped or feel like I needed to hunt in other ways. As well as starting fishing again, since I moved down to the South Island I've got an air rifle, prompted by an excess of rabbits on the lawn. I've been known to shoot, butcher and then enjoy eating rabbits, hare and pigeons (not native pigeons I hasten to add). Free food is good too. Hunting what are basically vermin is quite enjoyable, not so much the killing as the process, but the idea of hunting larger animals or birds doesn't grab me. Bashing my way through bush is not my idea of fun, though fishing can involve a fair bit of it. I don't have a strong killer instinct, so a primal need to hunt is not the reason I fish.

I don't really eat trout and I release nearly all I catch. I do keep some for family upon request, but I don't particularly like to. If it was just me I'd be happy to let them all go.

Some say a bad day fishing is better than the best day working. I don't agree. I've had some terrible days fishing, days where I wish I'd stayed at home and worked. The weather might have been awful, the fish might have been beastly to me or it could just have been one of those days when nothing goes right. It would have been much better to have achieved something with work and gone fishing another day.

I don't go fishing just to get out. Well, sometimes I need to get away from things so I go fishing, but mainly when I go fishing it's to catch fish. It's ok if I don't catch anything - at least if I have caught something recently...

For me fishing isn't the greatest way to experience a place. Usually I'll be concentrating on the fishing so much that I don't really notice much else. Many places I fish have some pretty spectacular scenery but it takes a conscious effort to look around and take it in. I'm so focused on the fishing I've had people walk right up to me before I've noticed them and I've done the same with others too.

There are things I enjoy about fishing though, of course.

Although I've always liked to be outside, I do like to have a reason for it. I can't just go and lie on the beach. I need to swim or surf or dive or something, otherwise I feel like I'm just wasting time. I really like water and I enjoy rivers and lakes even without fishing, but taking a rod makes it more interesting.

I've always been fascinated by creatures and fishing involves a wide range of interesting ones. The obvious one is the fish, and I like spotting them and watching them go about their business. I enjoy turning over rocks looking at insects and watching bullies and little fish dart about. Then there's the grasshoppers and cicadas and bees, as well as the birds and sometimes lizards and frogs.

There's the tactical aspects of fishing. How should I approach a fish, what fly should I use, how should I present it - you know the stuff. Hooking a difficult fish can be very satisfying, even without landing it.

I think maybe what keeps me coming back is the electric feeling when something starts pulling back on the line. It sounds bizarre, but I enjoy a day fishing when I don't catch anything but get snags which feel like takes much more than days when there's nothing. It helps keep me focused - it turned out to be a snag but it could have been a fish!

I suppose there's a whole combination of factors to why I like fishing. It's a mix of so many interesting things. I don't think I could point to just one and say "That's why I do it". I'm sure lots of people feel the same way.

Even if I'm not entirely sure why I go fishing, apart from because I enjoy it (most of the time), I do know that right now it's something I feel compelled to do. Ever since I started spinning again almost 3 years ago I've been obsessed, and it's only gotten worse since I started flyfishing. I get antsy if I go a couple of weeks without fishing. In the winter, when the lakes are frozen, the rivers up here are closed and I don't particularly want to have deal with chains to get down the pass to the rivers on the plains I start to get the fishin' fever.

By the time you read this I'll be heading south to the Clave. All roads lead to Middlemarch. Well, a few of them at least. As I said above I'm really looking forward to meeting Loopers who I've only "met" via the Board before, as well as Paul's clinic on Friday. On the subject of the Board, there were some great posts in the thread I started last week about driving on gravel roads. I'll bear them in mind if I actually get a chance to go fishing at the Clave.


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