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Thom Barker: To fish or not to fish is not the question

Thom Barker
Thom Barker - Contributed

It is not surprising considering where I live that one of the first questions I am always asked is, “You must love fishing.”

Okay, that’s a bit more of a statement, but there’s usually a little inflection at the end that reveals an inquisitive intent.

It’s also a bit of an assumption—a gender-based one, at that— because nobody assumes, or asks if, my wife loves fishing. She does, by the by, b’y.

So, maybe it’s not about where I live, maybe it’s because I am a man.


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Civilization stinks: Or how I spent my summer vacation

Brother, can you spare a time (zone)?

How do we get past the propaganda divide?


Nevertheless, for me, the short answer is: no, not really.

That would not make much of a column, though, would it?

I will admit, it is a bit of a semantic answer, but I’m nothing if not pedantic about semantics.

Here’s the thing, I love cooking fish and I especially love eating fish. And I absolutely love catching fish. I don’t even mind cleaning them. However, in my experience, most of the time spent fishing is doing exactly that, fishing, not catching, not cooking, not eating and not cleaning.

And honestly, if I’m not catching, cooking, eating or cleaning, I’m not really enjoying it.

There is a possibility I’m just not very good at it, but I’ve been out with professional-level anglers with meager results and witnessed enough people go out for hours and come back with nothing more than tall tales to conclude it’s not just me.

I get the appeal of fishing. First and foremost is being out in nature. But that is really not an appeal of fishing, being out in nature is its own benefit to which fishing is incidental.  

There is also certainly something manly about fishing. I will leave the nature/nurture aspect of that alone; the fact is, for whatever reason, it is a heavily male-dominated pastime/profession. Perhaps it harkens to a time in which our worldly concerns were simpler, albeit more critical. I want to say it satisfies a primal, male hunting instinct, although that is probably trite, not to mention—such an odd phrase considering it always prefaces something you are about to mention—politically incorrect.

Nevertheless, there is something exceptionally satisfying about bringing home supper that you caught/killed with nothing but your wits, brawn and thousands of dollars-worth of technology. But again that’s more about the catching than the fishing.

Maybe I’m just too goal-oriented. That may surprise some people who know me, but when it comes to fishing, I’m all about the destination, not the journey. And that’s a bit odd because in many other aspects of my life it is not the case. For example, I love painting to the point I’m almost disappointed when I finish one and can’t wait to move on to the next one (sometimes I have more than one going at a time).

Maybe I just don’t have the patience. That likely would not surprise anyone who knows me, but again, it all depends on the situation. I have endless patience and persistence when it comes to some other things that other people find mind-numbingly boring and/or difficult, such as Sudoku and crossword puzzles.

I don’t know if I’ve solved anything here except perhaps to reinforce the self-actualization that I, like most people, am a bundle of contradictions. As the American psychologist Carl Rogers theorized, personality is a competition between the real self, the perceived self and the ideal self.

Perhaps it is only my perceived self who doesn’t like fishing.

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