A fishing life usually starts like this. A new angler decides to go fishing and to begin with any species or fishing opportunity will do. The real goal is simply getting out and catching a fish, never mind what type or how many. A bend on the end of the rod is the measure of a good day. That’s how I started and I can’t count how many days I spent fishing the banks of the Fraser River near Chilliwack, BC. I caught suckers, bullheads, pike minnows, carp and on very rare occasion, trout. My experiences were very typical of a new angler.
After an introduction and some success under their belt the angler often looks at catching numbers of fish. Once they have had the taste of landing the numbers and are confident they can do it the quest in many cases will change to catching larger fish. They want the largest of a particular species. There are unwritten benchmarks for such things, the 10 pound walleye, 20 pound pike, 6 pound rainbow, 7 foot sturgeon, 20 inch stream trout and so on.
I’ve had my licks at catching big fish and thanks to my good friend, Mark Laynes, of Cascade Fishing Charters, out of Chilliwack BC. I can include very large sturgeon in my scrapbook of past successes. This desire spawned from a childhood experience where I hooked and lost a massive Fraser River Sturgeon. I fought the fish for over a half an hour before it broke my line.
Marc knows the Fraser River Sturgeon like no other and has literally got us into dozens of these monsters. Some of which would push six feet but Marc has had experience with even much larger members of this specie. He has hooked fish so big that they can’t move them. You know you’ve hooked them and can feel them swimming around but no amount of pressure seems to even faze them. He has had occasion where he has sat on one of these monsters for hours without success and Marc has guided anglers onto sturgeon for decades. He has definitely landed his share of super huge fish, some even exceeding 11 feet!
In many cases the desire to catch big fish diminishes in time. It never goes away completely as catching big fish is always fun, but it no longer drives the decisions on where and when to go. Some anglers go on to become species specialists and pursue one fish to the exclusion of all others. Others become tackle specialists, choosing to catch fish with specific tackle only, like fly fishers. In the end many experienced anglers discover that catching the most or the biggest or the specific type of tackle is not all that important.
Fishing has come full circle and enjoyment comes from the sum of the whole. The total outdoor experience is the measure of a day. Days in the field are savored simply for what they are.
I’m glad to say that fishing is not an evolution, because an evolution might imply that we graduate from one place to the next as we evolve and get better and really, that isn’t the case. There is no ‘better’ when it comes to fishing. There is rather, an accumulation of experiences that over time defines and redefines what fishing is and why being outdoors is important.
So I asked myself, where do I fit in this scenario? Well, I find myself everywhere along it and possibly you probably do as well. I still like catching a lot of fish so I often trek down to the river to catch a bunch of suckers and goldeye. If I have a little more time I’ll head to the local potholes and cast out a bobber with bait to catch trout or perch. It’s all good fun. I like introducing others to fishing and I regularly take people out. I still try to catch big fish and you will find me plying the waters at Obed Lake looking for my first monster brown or dropping tip ups through the ice at Gull Lake in hopes of connecting with a super sized pike.
Fishing is an outdoor activity enjoyed all life long. It can be solitary and a safe place to detach and think or it can be a social outing for you and your friends.
We are fortunate enough to have an incredible opportunity in this country to enjoy the outdoors and it would seem to be a shame if we did not take advantage of it. So I suggest that we forget about where things are headed in the whole evolution of fishing and just enjoy the day, learn something new and if it strikes your fancy take someone with you.