Why we fish....
Why We Fish?
Growing up as a youngster, I vividly remember sitting on the couch with my grandpa and reading the Annual Fish and Game Handbook for the year to come and scrambling to turn pages to discover the day a specific wildlife management area would open. This WMA was very dear to me as an 11 year old kid. Several miles within this area, that i thought of as magical,was a pond known locally as "the goose pond". It was an old strip mining pit that used to be owned by the StarFire Coal Mining group but was donated to the state as sort of a half-hearted wildlife rehab/reclamation project.
The goose pond was a place where a little guy like myself, without a boat or fancy tackle, could go and catch good numbers of bass. The pond was about 3 acres and had a gravel road around it, so access wasn’t an issue. I pined away every spring to wet a line there, knowing that would be the day I could catch great numbers of fish like I had watched the pros do on TNN's Bassmaster programs (as other kids probably watched cartoons). Looking back, it was the first night i can realistically remember not sleeping one actual minute.
To think of why small children would lose sleep over a lake opening is foreign to some that aren’t familiar with it. For those removed from the outdoors I would think they would wonder: Why do we fish? Why is that activity so exciting to a young guy? Looking back on this moment i wondered why that day more than any other made such an impression. If i had to guess; I think there's something innate in us that gives us a incentive at the thought of catching a fish. The scenario of that particular lake being unpressured for so long seemed like the pinnacle (to my childhood brain ) of primitive reward center fulfillment, even though we use contemporary gear. Obtaining protein, whether it be fish or hunting animals, has been engrained in humans for so long, there is an unconscious bit of satisfaction every time we go out. It’s a pleasure we can't honestly describe 100%. We could have easily went to Long John Silver's and bought fish, but the thought of reeling them in ourselves over and over had me on a three cup of coffee level excitement that night.
Man has been fishing for roughly 40,000 years from what we can estimate archeologically. Catching fish has been with us for longer than the Bible. The caveman software that the human machine is running on now still has that compulsion where we "need" to catch fish in order to survive. It is a reward. It's different now than it was in prehistory times. We do it now as a way to get out of the daily monotonous cycle of jobs, kids and chores. We fish to clear our mind and get fresh air and to put ourselves in the present moment. Letting the anxious overthinking part of our brain rest while we run on our caveman faculties. We do it to spend time with the ones we love.
Back before agriculture and farming, we did it for survival. We had to fish in order to sustain us. We used angling as a way to procure meat. I think we still get the same amount of goodness now from it but the reasons have changed. We used to fish to nourish our bodies but now we're anglers to nourish our souls.