I must take issue with my friend and Park Authority colleague, Matthew Kaiser. In a recent blog titled IMA Volunteers Share Memorable Wildlife Encounters, Matthew wrote that “catching a glimpse of a bald eagle soaring high above a lake can make a bad day of fishing slightly more palatable.”
Claiming the right to be petty and picky, I disagree. One, there’s no such thing as a bad day of fishing. Two, if there were, not that I would know, nothing could make it palatable.
I love bass fishing. It has provided me with innumerable moments of thrill, relaxation, frustration and renewal. I don’t particularly like the work of preparing to fish, but I do it knowing that the moment I’m on the water I’ll feel calm, anticipation, joy and all the multiple emotions that make us click as people. I feel centered when I’m near or on water. I feel human.
As for those innumerable moments, fishing has been the source of both wonderful and terrible moments. Fishing had a small, tiny, miniscule role in a temporary breakup when my wife and I were dating. Something to do with my taking a fishing rod along on a romantic walk at night around a lake. We recently talked about that night, looking back at it through nearly 14 years of marriage. She remembers wanting to kill me. I remember I didn’t catch anything on the Jitterbug I was throwing. Obviously, we’ve gotten over it.
Volunteering for the Invasive Management Program has been the gateway to wildlife experiences for the volunteers in Matthew’s article. Fishing has been the gateway to nature for me.
Because of fishing, I have seen
- an eagle parent teaching its youngster how to fish
- osprey feeding their newborns
- a deer swimming across the Potomac River
- a snake eating a bluegill
- turtles mating
- turkeys in flight
- water boiling across the surface as a rain storm approached
- waves so high above my boat I couldn’t see over them
- bass guarding the fry on their nest
Because of fishing I have
- felt a sudden, 20-degree temperature drop as a cold front passed like a wall of wind
- made dozens of friends
- learned how to canoe
- fallen into rivers
- seen new parts of our country
- stood in a boulder field surrounded by snakes
- learned about myself
- shared time with my parents, shared time with my children
Fishing has been my gateway to nature and wildlife encounters. Somewhere outdoors is something that can be your gateway to nature. Seek it by visiting the parks. Find it, hold it and protect it. It will make you feel centered. It will help you feel human.
Written by Dave Ochs, editor, ResOURces Newsletter