I can’t claim credit for this old saw, but I know it to be true. I’ve heard it used to justify many otherwise frivolous pastimes, but fishing is my frivolity, so there it is. I hope and pray the fish don’t mind, but the worth to my soul and the value to my spirit give the endeavour a sanctity that can only be described as religious. If the ultimate cost is a few fish, then so be it. The fish have not complained.

There is a world of difference between fishing and catching fish. It’s
like love and sex: love, the fishing part, is spiritual. Catching fish is merely the physical act. My mother taught me to fish. She in turn was instructed by her father.

Fishing is a spiritual exercise. You dedicate time and effort to something for which there is guarantee of immediate reward. You cannot see beneath the water’s surface but you know, or suspect, or have faith that there’s going to be something there, that if you follow the rules and propitiate the right gods, you will be rewarded. If that’s not religious dogma, then I don’t know what is.

But most times it nourishes the soul, elevates the spirit and is a balm in troubled times. I don’t recommend big game sport fishing. Not egalitarian enough. Too limited by physical prowess and deep pockets. Fishing needs to be universally accessible. This kind of pleasure needs to be within the reach of the rich and poor, the old and the young, open to all genders. It’s like a discipline with no requirements, only needs.

So, sitting by a riverbank with an old rod or stick, some black braided line, a sinker and a smallish hook garnished with a hapless worm qualifies as unorganized religion and almost guarantees me long life and a front-row seat in heaven.

Lesson #11 – God Does Not Deduct

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