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I Love to Fish

I truly love to fish. I enjoy every subtle nuance. I like developing a mental image of the contour of the bottom and the placement of the vegetation and rock formations. How the fish are relating to it. There is a big boulder here on the edge of this flat. Are there fish beside it? Okay I caught one are there more? Are there more that won’t bite? How do I get them to bite? When they become active? Will they move from here out over the flat to feed or wait in ambush? These are just a brief few of literally millions of questions that I’ve asked myself and sought answers to over a lifetime in the outdoors.

I consider myself fortunate to have spent most of my life outdoors. I’ve learned a great deal from watching what happens around me. I’ve watched how birds react to food sources and predators. How each species of animal deals with their environment. How they search out food their reaction when it is found. How they rest, when they rest. When they are active and when they rest. How they react to predators. Each fish is both predator and prey at some stage of their lives. Because we can’t see everything that is happening under the water it is more difficult to discover how fish react to all these situations. I use all of my knowledge of animal behavior and apply it to fish to create and prove theories. It’s amazing how many incorrect theories and assumptions are touted by “professional” fisherman.

I hesitate to suggest to people to “take the time to see what is around you” as it suggest that you are wasting time that could be used to pursue that next fish or game. In fact I believe that time spent learning more about the intricacies of nature is the pursuit. I have all but given up trying to pass this message along. Once in a while an opportunity like this comes along and out it comes.

When I started Outdoor Encounters TV series my “tip of the week” was things such as showing how a Dragonfly hatched or how the cerotinous cones of a jack pine tree required the heat of a forest fire to open. Or how Lichens and then mosses started the entire process of building up the boreal forest after the ice age wiped the Canadian Shield clean. I didn’t feel that the “tip of the week” was explaining how my sponsor’s product worked. My sponsor was supposed to sponsor the tip. I had some difficulty explaining these to large corporations. I tried to explain how nature’s calendar was more important than the one on the wall. Natures calendar is what tells me why my quarry is where it is and when it will arrive or depart. I was proud of some of the messages I was able to get out to our viewers especially the beginnings of the entire concept of catch and release.

Unfortunately I must also make a living to provide for my family. As a guide my goals are a little different. I must balance my interests with my guest’s interests. With most my job is to locate fish and have them catch them. By the way I am very good at that. Of course safety, catch and release, good sportsmanship, wilderness etiquette etc. are very important parts of my job. However if feel that I can do much more to make the overall experience more rewarding. They have already taken the most important step by venturing forth into the great outdoors. I can only nudge them in the direction of learning more about how nature operates. I really do feel like a teacher. If I can ignite a flame, the desire to learn more will grow and maybe, just maybe they will come away with a better understanding and a set of tools to take forth into the wild yonder.

We as a species (humans) have a tendency to believe that we can control nature. To a certain extent we do exercise some control over little tiny parts of our world but not for long and not the big picture. Learning how to live with nature is a misnomer. We all live with nature it’s unavoidable. Many if not most of people try to avoid “living with nature”. Even the destruction we create is part of nature to an extent. Most animals cause some destruction, humans a great deal more. Thankfully for some reason the majority of humans have this innate desire to live in large groups (cities). This helps to minimize the destruction they cause somewhat.

Don’t think that because you don’t spend time in the outdoors you don’t do any harm to the environment. Every item that you consume (and we consume many) has a price on the environment. Don’t believe that because “respect the environment” and you handle the fish gently and release them “unharmed” that you do no harm to the environment. Did you drive your car to the lake, did you use an outboard motor etc. etc. We all know this stuff the important matter is not to become so overcome by remorse for our sins against nature that we become too paralyzed to enjoy the outdoors. We should enjoy the outdoors we belong to it. We are part of it.

I don’t feel that our education system teaches our children enough about nature and our place in it. Some say that is not the mandate and not what kids need to be taught. Others say there should be special interest groups that expose children to nature. What can be more important than imparting in our children a knowledge of how the world operates? Surely it is as important as which general’s army slaughtered which other general’s army in which war of which date.

If I can share some of my knowledge and experience with my children and instill in them the desire to learn more about the world they live in (the real world) then I feel that I’ve accomplished something. I can’t change the world but I can try to live with it. Granted it is increasingly difficult to do so and I won’t even begin to get into all the things that we should not be doing. I believe that the more time people spend in the great outdoors the more likely they might begin to understand what it is all about and that is the key my friends. Many of the “Anti” groups have in fact great intentions and good goals but miss the boat when trying to prevent us from partaking in the hunt. Consuming is what all animals do. Granted humans much more so than others. There is nothing wrong with eating fish and game. What could be more natural? Besides we have to eat. I think it is becoming increasingly obvious that cattle yards, fish farms and even being able to eat fresh strawberries in January up here in the great white north are not in our long term interests.

It’s not a perfect world, never has been. We worry for our children’s future just as past generations worried for us. Albeit for different reasons it is still the same worry “survival”

So what’s a person to do? – Relax, go fishing, learn more about nature and take your friend, neighbor or child, your child if possible. Appreciate the world around you.

Until next time keep the line tight and keep smiling.