“Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.” — Herbert Hoover
I’ve only gone fishing three times in my life. The opening day of trout season in the Lehigh Valley Saturday got me to thinking, though, about the attraction and significance of the sport.
I only recall going fishing with my father one time. We were on a family vacation, and he took four of us, ranging in age from about 5 to 10, to fish along a creek bank. I was 9.
Feeling competitive, I had looked forward to the experience, sure I was destined to catch my limit.
But unlike my siblings, I had not one nibble and stood in the weeds along the bank, bored to death.
Disappointed, I went home feeling like a loser. My brother Chipper was hooked, though, and went fishing with Dad frequently.
While I didn’t want to go along and cast off a line, I recall wishing for the one-on-one time he was getting with our father and I knew my brother was having a special day.
Fast forward 45 years or so, and my husband and I were on a fishing party boat that took about 40 people out in the ocean for an afternoon of angling.
I managed to catch a slate fish, which I threw back in the water, and a flounder that barely reached the legal limit to keep.
It was windy out on the ocean. I hope my husband enjoyed the one-on-one time with me, as he spent a good bit of it untangling my fishing line and freeing up the reel.
The best time I’ve had fishing was a morning at Hunsicker’s Grove Park, near Alburtis, a few years ago.
It was my husband’s birthday, and he said he wanted to treat himself to some angling at the pond there, so off we went.
It was an unseasonably warm and sunny day in mid-March. We spent hours on the small dock there, casting our lines out into the water.
Forsythia were just beginning to bloom, and we had a nice time, just observing the forest around us, which was reflected in the still water.
The fish were not biting that day, but I realized going home empty-handed did not matter after all.
A good bit of the fishing experience has to do with spending time in the company of people you care about, being outdoors enjoying nature and disconnecting from the modern world for a while.
Fishing trips have been the source of memorable experiences for a number of family members.
I recall the day about 16 years ago when a 4-year-old grandson came to my newspaper office with his grandpa to tell me all about how a fish pulled his brand-new rod right out of his inattentive hands and swam off with it.
He was so excited — he was sure it was a really big fish — he wanted the entire staff to hear his story. A monster fish had eaten his fishing rod!
More recently, my husband and his son and two grown grandsons hired a fishing boat to take them out mahi-mahi fishing off the coast of North Carolina. They came home having caught the boat’s 60-fish limit. The following year, they went out in a private boat on their own. They caught nothing but had the amazing experience of being surrounded by a pod of hundreds of dolphins that came very close to the boat and swam along with the boat for quite awhile.
In January, my 14-year-old grandson, on a vacation in Mexico, caught a shark while fishing with his parents on a hired boat. He was so proud and could hardly wait to get home to show the pictures to his friends at school.
Fishing seems to be about making memories more than having fish for dinner.
So, whether you like to stake out a favorite spot along the Lehigh River, fish alone or with friends, enjoy the peace and quiet or time spent outdoors, I hope you fish.
Opening day on Saturday came with pouring rain, making it a challenging day that kept many local anglers at home, but better weather is coming.
Cast off from a creek, a river, the ocean, a lake dock, a boat or the beach and enjoy the experience.
As for me, it won’t matter if I catch a thing.