Fishing ...

In my youth fishing was a magical thing.  A rite of passage, filled with secrets and rituals, passed down and presided over by a mentor or two.  On one side of the family an uncle and on the other side a farmhand, more family than employee.  With his wife and brother he spent most of his adult life living and working on my grandfather’s dairy farm. 

The hook, baited with an earthworm, was cast into the pond.  Sitting on the shore, trying to remain still and silent, as the thrill of anticipation washed over one.  The senses extending from fingers, to pole, to line, to the little red and white ball, bobbing gently on the surface of the water.  The mind reaching down into the depths, willing an as yet unseen fish, to strike at the bait.  With the innocence of youth I knew nothing of fishing as an industry or occupation.  I knew only of that pond and what I could see and feel.

Fishing in the village takes on a myriad of forms.  Various scoops and nets and traps are used in fields, canals, streams, ponds, reservoirs, and the occasional flood.  Only seldom have I seen it in the solitary form, as it is more often a social undertaking.  Anything from a few friends, to a whole village, participating in an annual event at a local catchment area. 

The last two years, the fishing rights to our local reservoir have been auctioned off to the highest bidder.  Begging the question, how long before the stocks are depleted?  Fishermen come from far and wide, paying a nominal fee to cast a line into the waters.  Many pay for several poles and line them up in ridged formation, like little toy soldiers standing at attention.  Others prefer casting nets or setting lines from a boat, far from the shore.

Though human nature bids us do it, looking into another’s eyes in search of their motivations or even their soul, is a futile endeavor.  Yet as I looked into the faces, of those I found fishing at the reservoir the other day, huddled beneath umbrellas sheltering from the sun, I couldn’t help but wonder.  Was there any joy or awe in what they did?  Where did their thoughts travel to?  Were they escaping some other tedium of existence?  Perhaps it is as simple, as something one does at this time of year.  It certainly couldn’t be called sport fishing and there is no “catch and release.”  Even the most diminutive of fish does not escape the frying pan.  Often a days labor would provide enough money to purchase the same number of fish with a fair amount of change left to jingle in ones pocket.  So it would seem that they are not fishing from necessity. 

In the end my mental gymnastics were all for naught, as I went on about my walk and they took no notice of my leaving.