Louis Cahill, of Gink and Gasoline (www.ginkandgasoline.com) wrote the following:
"Honestly, if it wasn’t my job I don’t think I’d photograph my fish at all. I think I have posed for photos with fish twice in the last year and one of those times was just for my buddy who wanted to take the pictures. When I think back about great fishing trips I’ve taken, when I find myself smiling at a fond memory, it’s almost never the fish I’m thinking of. It’s the people I fish with. ... I like to think that when I’m finally too old to wade into the river, I’ll look back on my days as an angler and judge my success, not by the size of the fish I caught, but by the friends I made and the size of their hearts."
I can relate to this heartfelt statement as I see a ton of pictures of fish that I will never catch, out of exotic locations I will never be able to visit. Perhaps that is what social media excels at; the captured appreciation of a moment but L. Cahill's intention strikes true and accurate as well. Do people take an online persona so as to be determined an expert? Is it ego driven? What drives a person to self promote—does even the simple act of fishing have to become narcissistic?
A quick thunderstorm popped up the other day while I was out standing in a local stretch of water and a hasty exit from the creek was in order as it is known to rise quickly and violently, the physical evidence of previous high water was easy to see as 10’ tall snags were at every bend. As I made my way back to the truck through a maze of briars, thistles, and barbed wire fences (thrashed my waders, too) I came across an older fellow who had just started the day's fishing. Of course, a conversation was in order and we had a pleasant talk under a towering sycamore that lasted longer than the passing thunderstorm. What the hell, we were both in waders, eh?
Tips, tricks, and creek reports were shared as well as his memories of fishing the creek over the last 50 years. It was nice to meet someone completely engrossed in a shared endeavor and his tips have worked out for me but the conversation also gave me insight to what truly is a common experience amongst those who hunt/fish but it also a human experience: community and the sense of something larger than one’s self.
I rarely pull out pictures of the "big one"; instead, I would rather show a picture of the creeks/rivers I have fished. Success is not defined by the size of the fish but rather the shared experience of being able to solve the riddle. I'm perfectly content on pulling in the little ones and trying to do it on the flies I’ve tied. Of course, I will always try for the biggest and baddest but most days it's just pleasant to be out with friends/family. Those experiences, like the patches on my old waders, are familiar and friendly; they are comforting and continuing. The pictures are just memories for me and not trophies to be presented.
Thank the lord, though, that my wife has been around when I did pull in a couple of the big ones. or she would never believe me.