Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

March 23rd, 1998

It's Fishing, Not Shopping!

"Have you noticed there are not as many fish as there used to be?" "Or, that the only fish flourishing are the ones the state doesn't manage?" If that sounds a little like Andy Rooney of Sixty Minutes fame, it's supposed to.

So what can we do about it? You could beat your head against the wailing wall at your state capitol, join a group working for better regulations (Trout Unlimited, Federation of Fly Fishers, Fish America) become active in a local fishing club, or ... you could change how you fish.

Fly fishing is not about procuring fish. If you have always filled your freezer with wild fish from your fishing trips STOP! The price of good fish in your local market is considerably cheaper than the maintenance cost of a boat and motor. Have you ever figured the price per pound of the fish you caught trolling, jigging or mooching? (Did you include the time off from work to do it?)

Sure you can keep an occasional fish. Especially in "put and take" fisheries where the hatchery fish are put so people (and kids) have the experience of catching and keeping fish. But let's face it, except in very limited areas, we are beyond the point of killing everything we catch. The fish numbers aren't there. A fish is too valuable to catch just once!

"Oh, it's not the 'free' fish!" you say, "It's the recreation." Then why are you so miserable when you don't bring anything home? Could it be it's how you look at the recreation?

Ever bring the flag home from the golf course? How about a bowling pin or two? And where is your bird from the bird watching trip? A piece of the roadway from the bike jaunt?

The fishing is always great! Sometimes the catching is a little slow. That's why they call it fishing and not shopping!

Fly fishing is more like hunting. Reading the water, being observant, planning your course of action, figuring out what fly to use, and what to use if that doesn't work. Just the casting is fun. (It's even more fun when it becomes second nature.)

Consider this, fly fishing may be more of a mental, intellectual exercise than other forms of fishing. Some of which end up being very athletic. Fly fishing really in not what you bring home, it is the great escape from home! ~ LadyFisher

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