It is the end of October again; the season for all things spooky. I guess. Have blogged often about this curious desire we seem to have–the desire to have ourselves scared, spooked. I am sure it is the adrenaline rush that we crave, whether we admit it or not. It gives us a “high”. It makes us alive.
Without over-thinking, it is just plain fun.
I find it curious the things that scare people. Over the years I have made a mental list of critters mentioned by one angler or another that will keep them from going fishing. Or things that will keep them from fishing a certain spot. That list has been important because when I find my next hot-spot, I do everything possible to make other anglers believe it is crawling with the things they fear. I have joked over the years that my best spots are guarded by chiggers, ticks, itch-mites, rattlesnakes, wild hogs, mountain loins, bats, owls, spiders, West Nile-carrying mosquitoes, wolves, bears, coyotes, skunks, and of course, sasquatches.
I ain’t joking!
Seriously, at one time or another I have heard at least one angler state that they would not fish such-and-such a spot because of the chiggers, ticks, itch-mites, rattlesnakes, wild hogs, moutain loins. . . well, you get the idea, everything on that list.
You have got to be kidding me.
I have put up with pretty much all of those to fish at least one spot or another. I would consider them all to be nothing more than a notable experience. If there is a good bite, it is going to take a lot more than that to keep me away. As a matter of fact, I had a close encounter with a barred owl just the other night.
Speaking of night, I have done a darned lot of fishing after dark. From what I can tell, from the blazing bonfires and lights shining everywhere, a lot of you are scared of the dark.
Which is indicative of the real scary subject–the unknown. We are just plain scared of “what’s out there”, what we cannot see.
Wait a minute, isn’t that what draws us to “the wild”? Don’t we like wild places and the time we spend there, because it is unknown? Because it fuels our imagination? Doesn’t that make us free? Alive?
I have said before that I cherish those times I chance upon a rattlesnake. When I do I know I am in a wild place (and likely a place that has some good hunting or fishing nearby). I do not go looking for them, but any day I find a rattlesnake is a good day!
Likewise, when I enter wild places I hope there are chiggers, ticks, itch-mites. . . yes, even mountain lions, bears, wolves, coyotes, skunks and sasquatches! That is exactly what makes those places wild! The chance that I might encounter one of them is exactly why I want to be there! They are an integral part of that wildness/wilderness.
I currently live in urban, eastern Nebraska, much like many of you. My contact with real wilderness is not nearly as often as I would like it to be. I subsist by frequently spending time in places that offer little bits of wildness–maybe not wolves, bears, and sasquatch, but at least an owl, a coyote, and a skunk! Even then I am disappointed if I encounter someone else while I am there.
Another way I survive is to fish. As a fisherman, I am seeking that same experience. Yes, the places I fish may be in truly wild areas. Sometimes they are. Much more often the wildness I seek to touch, the unknown I want to experience, is swimming beneath the surface. Something really big that is out there, somewhere. I cannot see it. But, when I contact it, feel it on the end of my line, see it swim by, yes, the same adrenaline rush, same freedom, same being alive.
That is why big fish matter! Big fish, especially big predator fish, but big fish of any species, are the mountain lion, wolf, bear, coyote, sasquatch that can exist in the waters we fish. They fuel our imagination. They give us contact with wildness, even if the location is only ten minutes from the nearest convenience store.
Unfortunately, big fish too often are more rare than sasquatch. That is why we all need to do our part to change that (turn the big ones loose!).
I also think it is unfortunate that so many find so many excuses not to GO FISH. Sometimes I wonder if we try to make things so easy, so accessible, that we lose the mystery? The wildness? The soul of the experience?
I spent a day in a state park last weekend. The place was full of folks and activities. There were a lot of people in the “outdoors”. However, in the whole day, save for one eagle I saw fly overhead, and the garter snakes seen flattened on the road, I experienced not one wild critter, not even an itch-mite. Wasn’t that defeating the purpose?
Mostly, I am rambling about things that ricochet around in my head. I know this, I will continue to spend time on the water, time in the field, maybe not catching a lot, maybe not taking a lot of game. But I know they are out there, wild creatures. They are lurking, they may be so big as to even be scary. If I can just make contact with them, even if for just a fleeting second, I will be free, alive.
The problem with the wild, is, well, it is just so wild.
And may it ever be so.