As I slowly idled towards my final fishing spot yesterday evening, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace engulf my soul. The fish were biting, my hands were beaten up and I could sense the slight sting of the year’s first sunburn; but this tranquility had little to do with catching fish.
I stood up, but I didn’t head towards my trolling motor. I stood still. I listened. I breathed deeply. I prayed as the waves from my boat crashed against the sunlit eastern shore.
At that moment, I realized what purity felt like. Such purity cannot be found in an iPhone, on a laptop or in a bar room. It can’t be delivered from crooked politicians, reality television stars or lines of picketers forcing their beliefs upon others.
Today’s society is inundated with absolute, despicable garbage; trends and falsely validated behavior that leads many good people down a dead-end road. Turn on the news and make yourself watch for just a few minutes. You’ll see nothing but murder, protests, fear mongering and lies. We are fed hatred and negativity each and every day. If we speak up against it, someone gets offended.
Fishing, however, is one of the only pure activities left in today’s world; and we darn sure better cherish and protect it. I don’t care who hole-jumped who, which guy bird-dogged you on your tournament-winning spot, who calls themself a “pro”, who wears flat-brim ball caps or any of that inconsequential nonsense.
We have something sacred; something pure.
In what other subculture can anglers and fans alike gather in the darkness of the pre-dawn hours and pray together to their Lord and Savior? We might not all have the same beliefs, but we respect each other’s differences. No protesting, no hurt feelings—our love of the sport supersedes any dissimilarities.
In what other subculture can we sing the Star Spangled Banner and everyone—from the young children to the military veterans—has their right hand over their hearts and both eyes sternly fixated on Old Glory? You won't see any punks stepping on or burning the American flag at a fishing tournament. I can guarantee you that.
In what other subculture can we see weather-beaten old men gathered around an old marina, sharing fish stories from years past? At that very moment, they’re not concerned with the problems of the world. They’re solving them, one cup of coffee at a time.
This sport gives us an opportunity to pretend there is no evil. We’re able to rewind time, focus on the simplicity and undeniable brotherhood of the Great Outdoors. For just a few hours, our boats and our shorelines transform into a front porch in Mayberry. The bad can’t find us out here and if it does, we have a strong band of brothers who has our back.
It’s comfort. It’s purity.
It’s the warmth of the sunrise.
It’s the smiles and laughs between a father and son that say “I love you” without speaking a word.
It’s the smell of the water.
It’s the sunscreen dripping into our eyes on a hot summer day.
It’s the chance to spend time by ourselves, feeling at home when we’re often the furthest from it. We can pray, laugh and cry without owing an explanation to anyone. It’s one of the most liberating feelings on Planet Earth. For those few hours on the water, nothing else matters. All the hate, the division, the late bills, the job promotions, the rush-hour traffic, the self-righteous stuff on social media—none of it exists.
And when nothing else exists outside of the water, the sunrises and the sunsets, that’s the definition of purity. Embrace it, come together, be kind to one another and enjoy the most sacred sport in existence. We are all blessed to be fishermen.
“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” - Genesis 1:26