Why we fish

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Why we fish

We all come from very different walks of life, changed by our experiences and unified by the things love to do and are passionate about.

Fishing, for me has been a lifetime pursuit, it is a one true constant in an ever changing world that just seems to spin faster and faster. Bigger, faster, more being the catch cry. 

Skulldragfishing , serious business

Which leads me to the question of why do we fish? I can tell you my reasons, but is there something deeper, some more primal in the reasons we are compelled to fish?

Let’s dive in and see if we can unfold a few layers.

Phone a friend

Asking your buddy off the cuff as to why he fishes, is likely to give you a variety of predictable answers, such as, it’s just what I do, I love it, it’s my sport. Go beyond that though and you will see there is more to this than meets the eye.

Skulldrag fishing with mates

People fish for many reasons, it can be as relaxing or as intensely competitive as you wish to make it. That’s part of the plan really and could explain how come so many people love to do it. Fishing is a sport that is open to people of all walks of life, gender, creed and colour. There is no entry fee, few barriers to access it and with as little as a handline and servo prawns, you are in the game.

Game On

Perhaps thats part of the appeal, is it a game, something to occupy us in our idle time? Thinking deeper, gaming is not always a lighthearted and flippant use of our time. It can take on a more sinister role, such as a lot of online entertainment these days. whereby the edges between what is real and not become very blurry. In this world of online, virtual reality, no downtime, constantly wired, slave to our electronic addictions, is this really a game or our unrealized worst nightmare of reaching the end of our path and wondering where it all went.

Comparing fishing to a game is not doing it justice, fishing is real and whilst some might say as addictive in nature as gaming, nevertheless I believe much healthier. Fishing is more a pastime, a hobby rather than a game. I prefer to think of fishing as much more than just a game and so do you, otherwise you would not have read so far. 

Primal roots

Our modern society is sanitized and refined, in our single served and pre-packaged for our convenience world, it is little wonder we look for escape to more primitive environments. 

There is no doubt that fishing connects us with our primal roots. The days when very survival required us to become master of a technique in order to ensure the survival of not only ourselves but of our families. Catching fish was once a survival tactic, now we (most of us) live in a much more refined world, where fish for dinner involves a trip to the supermarket, unwrapping the plastic shrink wrap and putting the fillet in the pan (unless a waiter brings it to you).


No wonder we long for the cut and thrust of a life and death struggle, only to use advanced tools and efficiently guided technique to land our prize, bleed, gut, prepare, fillet, season and then later cook and consume our quarry. There are some that would decry this barbarism, however that would only serve to mask our evolutionary nature and forget where we come from.

Rhino Lures queenfish

For some, it is the thrill of the hunt, a throw back to our hunter/gather roots. The only way to explain this to someone who has never experienced it is; the excitement you get when you are trying to obtain something that is difficult or challenging. That is when you return triumphant, catch in tow. 

Perhaps this is one reason, we enjoy it so much, it connects us to our true self or at least our previous generations and their evolution..

Don’t stress out

Although the medical and social benefits of doing something you like are immense, the form of stress release that comes from your style of fishing can bring you great benefits also. 

Now I will admit to some of my fishing exploits to have been a little shy of a no stress affairs. Well a lot shy actually, but that’s where the good stuff is. The planning, the preparation, the execution and the recovery are all essential elements. Enjoying all of them is the challenge.

We know that in order to operate at our peak, to get the most out of our human experience, we require slightly elevated levels of stress in order to perform. Its ensuring the right kind of stress is applied is the trick. Stress because you left the sounder at home, or that motor will not start are the kind you can do without. Stress to work out the best way to capture a photo of your catch, or how to catch a bigger one than the last three, is the good kind and that’s what motivates us.

For most of us, just the sheer essence of getting back to nature, to share that special sunrise with your mate, spouse or kids (mostly in that order) is a unique form of aqua-stress relief that can only be found in the piscatorial sense. A lot of this depends on our personality and how we approach things in our life, so let’s take a look at how our personality plays a part.

Intro or extra, its all good

About 30-40% of us are introverts, meaning that introverts require time alone to de-stress, to recharge, and collect our thoughts. We invest in quality time with one or two people and dislike crowds and lots of people for an extended period of time. 

As an introvert, I can attest to enjoying my fishing as an escape from my day job and the copious social interaction that comes with it. Many introverts enjoy fishing as a  welcome relief to recharge themselves, be at one nature and just be in the now. I usually come back from a fishing trip, physically exhausted, but with a mentally and spiritually refreshed bank account, and can deal with whatever life throws at me. This is my version of a day spa.

Extroverts enjoy fishing too, they revel in the social aspect,  enjoy the competition, crowded jetties and beaches. They thrive on and are empowered by being with people, thats why fishing works for them. They will do it with a group and enjoy every minute of it.

Whatever your type or personality you can get what you need to refresh and de-stress from fishing, its just knowing yourself and adjusting your experience accordingly.

 ‘Many men go fishing their entire lives without realizing that it is not fish they are after’ Thoreau

When I first read this quote, I dismissed it. But it explains more about us fishermen/women then most of us care to really understand. Is it really fish that we are searching for? Or is it the possibility of anything being possible, of the truly miraculous being closer than we think, of moments of beauty being available for the average person to experience on a daily basis, with the possibility of a feed thrown in as a bonus?

My grandfather who was the most avid fisherman, I have ever known always said:

’Anything is possible son, the only thing impossible are some people’ Barra Bill Cahill

He had proven this to be accurately true on more occasions than I care to remember.

So, why do we fish

There are many and varied reasons why we fish, some a little deeper than others, but nonetheless just as important. Like all hobbies, professions or competitions, you get out what you put in. If you are just after a relaxing bait soak on a Sunday afternoon, well fair play to you. If you are jacked up on the thrill of tornament  bass/ bream fishing, then go get em tiger. If you just want to share your passion with your grandchildren and kids, then I say there is not enough of that happening in the world, so good on you.

Skulldrag Fishing with the boys,  Ulladulla, NSW

It takes many forms but these are some of the reasons why we fish. I am sure if you reflect on it, your reasons would not be too hard to quantify either. I have come to believe that the simple act of fishing satisfies something deep within that we do not get from modern day life.

The reasons why we fish are all slightly different, but well known to all of us, how we fish, well thats a whole other set of articles.

 Skulldrag Fishing, Lake Conjola

But getting back to the why, for me it’s the missing part of the puzzle. It is an escape, de-stress and recharge time. It is about being in the now, being present in the moment and maybe, just maybe making a lifetime memory with my friends and family.

Till next time, have fun, fish responsibly and remember take only what you need and post the rest to social media.


Skulldrag Fishing

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