"Through years of fishing I have counted the blessing of this sport by good health and peace of mind - my biggest catch ever." AVR
Saturday 4:00 am
A hurried coffee anticipates your thoughts in the anchored boat. The shore wakes up very early with returning night fishermen. You receive “Lucky fishing” more casually than “Bon Voyage.”
You anchor at 10 to 30 fathoms, your companion calculates by sixth sense. Your other companion: absolute silence. By now the fish stirs to dawn and appetite. Cast your line.
The fish bites. The line jerks and grows taut. Tug to drive the hook in and pull but give a little line if he goes for a wild run. Ready the scoop net, and land him in. Probably your heart jumped with a seven-pound bite, a five-pound pull, but you get only a two-pound grouper or sea trout.
Your second or third catch, your partner’s fourth or twelfth. And he is not unusually excited. The sea is creaseless now except for ripples of small fishes chased by larger species. Occasionally a game fish stirs or a tortoise, which feeds of drifting weeds, pops its head out and lets a heavy sigh. Flying fishes playfully glide and splash in kaleidoscope colors. You squint at the early sun.
You try trawling. Your partner checks bearing for distance and location and idles the engine. Your line dangles far and you hold it firm as your boat makes the rounds. You feel a tug, give an arm’s length or two of line to allow the fish to take a big bite. When the fight begins, your companion instinctively pulls the boat to a stop and you continue pulling. Play with wit. It’s dorado, carelessly strong and fast. Tire him first for easier landing.
The sun beats on your Mexican-rim hat and old long sleeve. You reach for cold drinks and sandwich. You see boats, perhaps a dozen, each to its own. Fishing is a highly individual sport.
You return and dock in. Tie your catch through the gill. Feel the weight of the bunch at your heart’s content. Somewhere around the corner men talk about the big fish that got away.
It is time to cook your catch. Broiled fish and sinigang are best for a family picnic on a weekend.
It is unthinkable that a fisherman dares to be alone at sea, aware that his life is being dependent on a defenseless frail craft. Yet freedom and love for adventure dominate all dangers, as if by going to sea he satisfies an ancient craving.
Here he seeks contemplation to break a prosaic life style. Or escape heavy social demands. The fishing line, like a communication wire, carries messages outside of convention and even rational matters. It connects two worlds – the deep and modern man. The game is primitive but it is played with fair rules.
Ernest Hemingway’s character in The Old Man and the Sea dramatizes the ritual. To wit.
“He felt neither strain nor weight, and he held the line tightly. Then it came again. This time it was a tentative pull, neither solid nor heavy, and he knew exactly what it was. One hundred fathoms – down a marlin was eating the sardine that covered the point and the shank of the hook. He was happy, feeling the gentle pulling, and then, he felt something, hard and unbelievably heavy. It was the weight of the fish and he let the line slip down, down, down, unrolling off the first of the two reserve coils. As it went down, slipping lightly through the old man’s fingers, he still could feel the great weight, though the pressure of his thumb and finger were already almost imperceptible…”
Much is said of great men who were fishermen in leisure, or in deep thoughts. Darwin and Newton changed the history of the world with their discoveries. The greatest Teacher who ever lived was a fisherman. Ideas are the greatest catch.
Through the years of fishing, or casting, and occasional big time fishing, I have counted the blessing of the sport not by my average or biggest catch, but by good health, better insight of personal values, and brighter outlook in life.
I believe that our faculties are sharpened by meditative moments through which we subconsciously sooner or later, find ourselves with more resolve to the assigned task of daily living. Incubation of ideas is like building a structure. It takes place during contemplative moments. Why many decisions are put off until after well-spent weekend?
Fishing reminds us of humility. I was boasting of my first catch. Later, I realized it cannot even qualify for an amateur’s record. Didn’t I laugh at a fisherman who hauled a chunk of coral he believed to be a big fish? The day after that, I came home empty handed and nearly lost my life at sea and he was so sorry to hear about the incident.
Millions over the world enjoy this lifetime sport. “Once a fisherman, a fisherman forever,” so goes the saying.
When the rivers and brooks run with fresh upstream water, the ponds full, and where freshwater meets the sea, or after a tempest, or during new moon, go find your fish.
Although luck plays a good part, yet experience and knowledge are no substitute. Nobody though, becomes perfect at fishing there is always something new to learn, and often it is the sixth sense that works better.
Harmony with Nature, the key to peace of mind and happiness, is probably the ultimate in fishing. Isaac Walton, father of this sport, lives with his song:
In these flowery mead would be,
These crystal streams would solace me;
To whose harmonious bubbling noise,
I with my angle would rejoice.” ~