Print Edition: May 23, 2012
As far back as I can remember, I have always loved fishing. To me, it has never been a sport, nor will it ever be. My family has two sides to it; on my mother’s side of the family, we are Ukrainians – relatives to one of the many lesser-important branch families of the Romanov dynasty who fled Russia when things got to be too much. On my father’s side, my family is a little more humble – simple sailors and anglers that originated from a town in South Devon, England. A whaling village that no longer has whales because they were all fished out many years ago. Because of this heritage, fishing has always been a deeply-rooted ritual passed down from father to son.
When I was a boy we used to vacation 10 minutes outside of our town. It was at a cabin on the Okanagan lake. On the lake there was a raft which I would swim out to, and from there I would cast my line in the water. Often I would catch massive trout. The lake is still full of trout; not many places still are. It was through this act of casting my line in the water and waiting that I learned important lessons of life that can only be learned through living, and through experience. I learned patience and vigilance from the waiting for the fish to bite. I learned to still my tongue, and to keep from moving about too much because the boat or the raft I was on would scare the fish if I did, and from this, I learned to appreciate silence. I learned what it was like to wake up first thing in the brisk dawn, when the sun was barely above the mountain, and what it is like to get in a rowboat and to row several kilometers out into the middle of the lake, out to where no one else can help you. I was independent.
Like I said before. I do not consider fishing to be a sport. But some do. I know that my uncle and his side of the family get very competitive in their angling, and he often holds family fishing derby’s where we are all invited, and spend the day waist deep in the Vedder river trying to land the biggest salmon. I don’t fish for competition very often. I did as a child, and it was fun. But I came to realize that the real joy I derived from fishing stemmed from a deep inner satisfaction – one that had nothing to do with triumph over one’s peers, as it does in other types of sport. It is a solitary art. One that requires patience and finesse.
Fishing is simple to me. It is peace. One can get lost in the great nostalgia of casting a line into that timeless old sea. The rivers and the ocean never truly age. They just change. And we ourselves come from water. We are comprised mostly of it. And in the end we all go back to it. So being one with it—spending time with it—that, to me, is peace. That is what fishing is – a communion with nature.