Why there’s more to fishing than fishing

Fishing is a great leveler. It humbles the investment banker just as easily as the construction worker. It sure has humbled me. Yet rather than coming home with my tail between my legs after a fishless day, I return with a spring in my step.

It’s a conundrum I’ve been puzzling over for a while now.

Sometimes the answers you are looking for come from obscure places – like a trip to see a play.

What struck me about the play was when the curtain fell I was drawn into a new world. My 9-5 existence melted away. I realised it’s the same feeling that envelopes me when I paddle my canoe up a river. That sense of moving between worlds.

The more I think about it, the more similarities I see between watching a play and going fishing. In a play, the action takes place on centre stage – that’s the obvious part, akin to catching a fish. But the success of a play relies on far more. There’s the props, lighting, music, stage direction and design. All of it comes together to create the experience you remember.

When I go fishing, stage design translates into the natural landscape around me. It’s what creates the backdrop. Sets the mood. Gives the experience a sense of time and place. When I paddle beneath the sandstone cliffs that border the Hawkesbury River, the sense of time and place is historic. Ancient. Unchanging.

Then there’s the actors – not the lead, that’s always the fish, but rather the cameo performances that are essential to the storyline. There’s the jellyfish that emerges next to my canoe, the spider that threatens to jump into it, the birds who double as musicians and provide the background music.

And then, there’s the fish. The drawcards. The performers that take centre stage. The stars the audience has come to see.

The most memorable plays bring all of these elements together into an irresistible package, just like the ultimate day’s fishing.

I’m sure professional productions make this happen for the majority of their performances, whereas my fishing performances are, shall we say, a little more unpredictable.

But come what may, I’ve still been lucky enough to step through the curtain into a new world, soak up the landscape and watch the cameo performances of the wildlife around me. That’s why I’ve come to appreciate there’s far more to fishing than fishing. And it’s just as well because if all my hopes and happiness were dependent on catching a fish every time, I’d have hung up my fishing rod a long time ago.

2 thoughts on “Why there’s more to fishing than fishing

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  1. Hey Jason, I took part in the nsw fisheries survey and despite telling the lovely survey person that I had caught basically nothing for 6 months, the final questions were about WHY I go fishing… I said that I just enjoyed fishing, both alone and with mates. Regardless of taking something home!
    Now, you make me feel like “the world is a stage” and that is to steal from Shakespeare!
    BUT the stage sometimes has crunching sounds of hungry mulloway, other times the stillness of a predawn brackish brook… But we are always the actors, with our “fancy” props and irregular ability to win the audience into accepting our deception!
    Yea, firing off some pics helps,
    But the mental images of landing my first estuary perch at sunset at Bobbin Head using an aged 2lb Silstar over a quarter of a century ago will live with me hopefully forever…
    And if I even need a memory of solitude and peace to calm my soul, it is usually the bubbling & bobbling sensation in my kayak off Lion Island mid-morning (without a bait in the water) I draw from…


    1. Couldn’t agree with you more. I often feel like an unconvincing actor the audience can see straight through.
      The Bobbin Head area also holds a special place in my heart – both upstream and down.
      Here’s to many more adventures – keep paddling Davo 🙂


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