Fishing makes me laugh. Perhaps it is my slightly warped sense of humor or maybe it was just a desire to enjoy life in a less stressful manner. Whatever it was, fishing seems to be the correct prescription for moments of happiness. Being a somewhat introverted person, this was something I could do without having to prove anything to anybody and could be accomplished in a solidarity fashion.
I had been an off again on again fisherman over the years. Did not own a boat and was quite happy roaming shorelines trying to catch what ever was willing to bite. While living in Massachusetts, I had befriended a co-worker who was a tournament fisherman at the local club level. From time to time we would fish together out of his Champion boat chasing New England Smallmouth. It did not take long before my wife, also an on again off again fisher wanted to become more involved in fishing. Eventually we bought our first Ranger and we were very happy fishing our local waters. I remember there were times where we would just go out in the yard where the boat was parked and sit in the boat with our coffee. Just to enjoy talking about fishing and spending quality time together.
Life was good until the day my job was no longer available. I found another position requiring a move to the Chicago area and for sure we took the boat with us. We did some fishing in the new location but it wasn’t all that good so our fishing time started to become more limited. My new job did not work out so it was time to move on. We decided to move to Myrtle Beach and start over with the pledge to find a simpler lifestyle. The Ranger, however, was sold before we moved to the beach. I must say it was one of the saddest days of my life to watch her pull away with the new owner.
As things would have it my fishing hobby was interrupted for the next 20 years. When my once successful business began to falter, it was decided the next logical step was to sell out and retire. Now retired, we asked what we could do to add some fun to our retired lifestyle. The unanimous answer was fishing. Not just fishing, but bass fishing. We bought a camper and had it set up at Santee Cooper Lake as a fishing getaway. We then bought another Ranger and fishing re-entered our life. Now we are once again experiencing the simple joy of fishing.
I had to tell you all of this so I could explain the reason for this story. I indeed do find myself laughing when I go fishing. No particular reason except that it is just fun, peaceful and full of the joys of nature. It is something we can do without competing with anyone. Being retired we can go fishing just about anytime we want. This means we don’t have to endure unfriendly weather or time schedules. Over the past six years we have experienced so many great adventures and experiences that no doubt will last us until our end of time. Things like doing battle with submerged stumps that felt like a fish to retrieving lures from a tree. While this may seem strange to you, it is the source of many periods of laughter while looking back on the day. I love getting the boat ready for the day on the water. Heck, I even get butterflies while driving to the ramp. Just making the final preparations at the launch make-ready area is fun. We are not in a hurry and just stay out of the way if others are waiting. I love the sound of the trailer sliding into the water with that simple swish sound. The joy of the big motor starting in a cloud of blue smoke, which is so common for my old Johnson Fast Strike. We love the smell of 2-stroke exhaust in the morning. We don’t blast down the waterway at high speed we just get on plane at 30 to 40 mph and take in all nature has provided.
My bass fishing affliction is just enough to make it fun to buy tackle and other fishing toys. Probably does not make sense because my skills are limited, but it makes me happy and yes I do chuckle a bit when I get new tackle to play with. The days are past when I was competitive. I get invited to join clubs but now decline the invitation and choose to just keep fishing at a relaxed and fun level. I don’t need a logbook or a fancy smart phone to keep track of my fishing activity. That is just too much trouble for an old man. Besides I really don’t care. You can do it if you choose but I think just having fun is a better fit for my age and lifestyle.
If for some reason you and I ever get a chance to fish together and you hear me laughing for no apparent reason, don’t worry, I am not losing it. I laugh because I found it and it makes me happy. I sincerely hope that you too feel the same joy as we do when you are bass fishing.