Is there a better place than a lake to relax and clear your mind? I don’t think so. When we fish, the world and our troubles just seem to melt away and give us a chance to reflect on family, friends and answers to our questions.
A few weeks ago, I was enjoying that kind of tranquility while anchored on deep weedline point. It was classic early summer structure and the walleye were stacked up there as I happily caught and released them on virtually every cast. In my mind I kept telling myself “OK, just one more and then I’ll go.”
But you know how that goes… you get that “one more” and feel unwilling and unable to leave. So you repeat the pledge “OK, just one more and then I’ll go.” This got me to thinking: Why can’t I just leave? I’ve literally caught thousands of identical walleye in my life, but am powerless to the desire to catch another one. Why?
So I decided to stay there for a while and try and figure out why fishing is so addictive. The first addictive factor is the feeling of being out in nature. Even if the fish don’t cooperate on a particular day, it’s still great to be out on the water. Of course it’s a lot better if the fish ARE biting. But the smell of the water and sights and sounds of nature are always captivating. It never gets old.
The next thing I thought about is the allure of the underwater world. Hunting is intoxicating because you see your prey and go after it. Well, fishing is hunting too – but for prey that’s hidden beneath you in a mysterious underwater world. There’s something thrilling about the challenge of that. Using your wits to unravel a lake’s structure and find where the fish are; why they’re there; what their mood is; and figuring out the bait and presentation needed to catch them. Once that feeling of accomplishment gets in your veins, there’s no way to shut off the drive to do it again and again and again.
The bite is something you get hooked on too. That simple, subtle feeling of a fish taking the bait is amazing. And bites come in so many styles. My favorite has to be the feeling of a walleye taking a jig on deep structure. But a close second is a topwater smash by the top predator – the northern pike. And let’s not forget the magic of a fish pulling down a bobber. The sight of that, especially with children, is something that keeps us coming back for more. Adding to the allure of “the bite” is the element of the unknown. You never truly know what’s taking your bait. You could be trolling crankbaits for walleyes and catching ‘eye after ‘eye when suddenly it’s a monster northern pike that falls prey to the wobbling bait. Bonus!
Don’t get me started on the feeling of the fight! Having a strong fish at the end of your line is as good as it gets. It’s the reason I couldn’t bring myself to leave that got me thinking about the addictiveness of fishing in the first place. And there’s something that happens with each and every fish that takes a lure. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, each fish allows us to hone our hook-setting and fish-fighting skills. They’re critical skills for converting bites into fish in the boat. Becoming proficient hook-setters and fighters is extremely rewarding.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say that another reason we fish is to satisfy our primal urge to put protein on the table. My family and I absolutely love to eat fish. There’s nothing as delicious and healthy on the planet in my opinion. OK, a moose backstrap comes close. But eating fish never gets old.
Which brings me to my final revelation about the magnetism of fishing… family. There are plenty of activities you can do with your parents, siblings, spouse and children. But nothing brings a family together like fishing does. So do yourself a favor: round up the fam and go get a fix of the finest, healthiest addiction a person can get… go fishing!
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