A few months ago we experienced a warm spell. Forty-degree days in January are rare, so I went fishing. My ambition really wasn’t to catch a fish, although I did manage to dupe two brook trout, the combined length of which did not exceed twelve inches. The objective was merely to go fishing. Since this is a new decade, it would be the seventh decade in which I have fished. Sort of a milestone if you will.
Sitting streamside facing a beautiful pool I enjoyed the warmth of the afternoon sun. A broad belt of hemlock ran along the opposite shore. Just upstream, icicles were artfully draped over protruding ledges. Marveling at the beauty of the water’s sight and sound my mind wandered. That tends to happen when the fish aren’t biting. Thought turned to angling companionship.
It has been said that fishing is a solitary sport. But for most, the social aspect plays a significant role- before, during, and after the act itself. The essential components combine fish, water, environment, tackle, weather, and perhaps the most important element- companionship. Fishing is simply more fun when shared. I talk not of a casual acquaintance, nor one of a chance encounter on the water.
Fishing partners are important. Finding the right one is the challenge. Relationships can be difficult enough, fishing relationships even more so. Find one that’s suitable and they become extended members of the family, although your spouse might have a different view. An angling alliance is a process, a transformation into a special bond that non-fishermen can’t, and never will, understand. A suitable partner can arrive at any time and last for varying lengths of time; some stays are brief, others last a lifetime.
Teaming up with a fishing partner is easy. Discovering the one for the long haul is more complicated. A fishing companion can make or break an outing. Get the wrong one and you’ll want the day to end quicker than a visit to a proctologist. With an undesirable individual there is a truism that can’t be argued- the misery suffered is directly proportional to the time spent and the distance traveled.
Good angling allies usually possess mutual interests and common aims, often strengthened by unselfishness. Egos are put on hold and true happiness for another’s successes appreciated and acknowledged. There becomes a laid-back atmosphere with no pretension. Planning trips, visits to the sporting goods store, tying flies, capturing bait, camping, sharing stories from past outings, all help strengthen the bond. If lucky, you’ll find one to grow old with, sharing the mishaps, triumphs, and unsuccessful excursions. Although the trips eventually start a little later in the day and don’t last as long, these components are mutually understood.
There should also be humor in fishing. A good partner forces you not to take the sport or yourself too seriously. You learn to laugh together; laughter that becomes as identifiable as the sound of a familiar bird. One pleasure, or some might say- goal, is finding someone who fishes even worse than you do. Caution: They could be choosing you for the same reason.
It is that fishing-partner magic that creates those indelible memories all anglers cherish. I have had the privilege to fish with many wonderful individuals. I have enjoyed sharing the water with my son-in-law, and in recent years my Grandson. One of my son-in-law’s strongest attributes, besides being a pretty darn good fisherman, is he serves as a great mosquito decoy. They seem to love him. But my favorite person to fish with is my son Rory. His enthusiasm for the sport is infectious, even for his ‘old man.’ And, like my Mother use to say, “I just wonder where he gets it.”
Make the investment to build these relationships. It is time well spent. Real fortunate individuals find several fishing colleagues.
Thank God for good fishing partners.