When the angler returned to the cabin, he was immediately asked, "Did you catch anything?"
"Yes, I caught 5 rainbows," was his reply.
"Where are they at?" was the next question.
"Where they belong," was his answer.
He didn't argue. He knew better, he had been down that road before. They didn't understand. They kept everything they caught, which was fine with the angler, as they ate everything they caught. He had no problem with eating fish, enjoyed eating them himself. He really didn't have a problem with mounting a fish, although he knew some of his fellow anglers did. But he didn't keep his catch, save on his camera and in his mind.
He was a simple man with simple needs and wants. He didn't have the ability to tell them that he didn't care if he caught a fish or not, although he thoroughly enjoyed it when he did. He couldn't tell them how he felt at one with the world standing waist deep in some mountain stream. He didn't have the words to explain the emotions that filled him as he listened to the steady trickle of the stream. He supposed he was just different than most, but he didn't care.
He couldn't explain the primal need that he had to be far from crowds, cell phones and work. Far from the TV news that was so depressing and bad. He couldn't explain how all the worries and cares of this world seemed to flow downstream when he was fishing, leaving him alone and refreshed.
He couldn't explain his own need to look around the next bend in the stream just to see what's around the bend. He couldn't explain his own desire to explore the natural world, far from concrete and asphalt. He couldn't explain any of it, because he truly didn't know himself. Yet he did know that somehow when standing waist deep in a stream, far from the rest of the world, alone in body and mind, he was one with himself. He knew the quiet satisfaction of a well-placed cast, whether the fish took the fly or not. He knew that somehow he could just simply breath better while fishing. He knew he enjoyed the solitude, though he enjoyed having his family with him more. Somehow, he was still at peace and at one with himself when his family was present, though he didn't want anyone else to be there.
He didn't have the words to express any of it. So when they asked him, "Why do you turn your fish loose?"
He replied, "Because I like to fish."
Which inevitably led to the question, "If you're not going to keep them, why fish?"
To which he replied, "Why not?"