Thursday, July 11, 2013

Paul Gozzo Asks: Fisherman or Angler?

Fisherman or Angler?

“Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”

No, this is not a blog about the famous Biblical truth.

I want to address the question of fisherman vs. angler? See how you match up?

A fisherman “figures it out”. He embarks on a journey to figure out how to catch fish. For most fisherman, the journey begins the day before and often times, weeks out. As Ted Williams, ya that Ted Williams, the Hall of Fame baseball player who was also an accomplished fisherman, once said something to the extent of, “ often times the biggest fish are caught the night before”.

For example, fly fishing for trout in a New England stream or wild Western River requires some knowledge and experience the latter of which is absolutely necessary to actually becoming successful at the fly fishing endeavor. Outside the obvious needs like transportation, rod, reel, waders etc. the fisherman must learn to read the water  to determine the highest probability of where a fish will be and then to study the water to determine where to cast in order to drift his fly naturally by where a fish most likely will be. Of course, all of this is after choosing the right fly, or in many cases the correct version of that fly and appropriate size as well as the size of the tippet at the end of the leader. All of this and more goes into the fishing experience.

Angling on the other hand, is what you do after you hook the fish. A good fly fishing angler will choose both where to cast from, so as to give himself the best chance to naturally present the fly to the fish, and also where he will position himself in the river to then fight and release the fish once it is hooked so as not to disrupt the pool the put the other fish “down” where they will become inactive. That angler thinks of the other fisherman and his potential to catch more fish from the same pool as well as his probability of landing the fish he is actually casting too all before making his initial cast.

On the saltwater, often times it takes 2-3 people working together on a boat to find, hook, and land a fish. Boat preparation takes time and effort. Rod and reels must be prepared including the testing and setting of the drag well ahead of time before the boat even leaves the dock. When a big game fish is hooked, the angle and boat captain will communicate and the boat is used to help reel in the fish. Then of course, a third person is usually needed to net or gaff the fish. This teamwork is fishing. The guy on the rod and reel is the angler.

These days, in our ego driven hey, “look at me and like me on Facebook and pass my picture and love it on Instagram” immediate gratification world, often times people rush to get to the point of that picture so much that they miss the opportunity to fish. They angle. And the two are not the same. I once read a quote that “only a surfer knows the feeling”….well the same can be said here, only a fisherman knows the feeling. The feeling of figuring it out and catching that fish. Hiring a guide who is on the water 300 days a year, who rigs your rod, baits your hook, and tells you where to cast, or even hooks the fish, then lets you reel it in, isn’t fishing. Yes, you are still angling, although it can be argued that a valuable part of the angling equations is missed when you do not actually hook the fish yourself, but none the less you are angling to some extent if you fight and land that fish. Now take your picture and pass it around the world and make sure to leave the part out about how the guide hooked it for you!

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