As a Conservation Officer in Ontario in the late 1950s through the 1960s, I patrolled the St. Lawrence River to the Quebec border. I came upon a very strange group of people between five and 90 years old. They were in search of a specific species whose ancestors date back 100 millions years ago and whose modern species have evolved over the past 600 millions of years, to now be known as fish. These group of people are fishers.
I have read pages of literature to discover the urge responsible to make these sit in a boat, in the drizzling rain, fog or burning sun for hours upon hours. They spend countless dollars on boats, motors and fishing rods when they could simply drive down to the market, buy one of these sea creatures and in less than a half hour be home enjoying dinner.
Instead, the fishers flail rods back and forth, casting away the good line they paid big bucks for. At the end of the day their arms are sore from all the waving of the rod.
In my creel census, I ask, “Did you come here to catch a fish for supper?” Generally they say “Oh, not really.”
I have even watched someone fish for hours in search of the monster muskellunge, which is the largest member of the pike family, and after they have fought it for half an hour, they bring it into the boat, give it a kiss and then put it back into the water and watch it swim away. Truly, there is no logic to their mannerism.
The more than 1,000 pages of Fish Encyclopedia failed to give me the understanding of what makes fisher-people stand out from all others.
In my search of understanding, under the old saying “if you can’t beat them, join them,” I bought a river craft, rod and reel and went fishing. Soon, as I guided my Ojibwe canoe along the waterways, casting that rod that sent the line and bait into the still waters, for no other reason than to complete my initiation into the world of fishing, a cherished moment of peace and serenity, a moment of contentment filled me with peace of mind, took hold of me. The hustles and bustles of a busy world was gone now and I realized that I really did not come out here to catch a fish for supper, but rather I came out here just to go fishing. Truly I have been blessed.