On passion for nature, compatibility and life-changing love
Until recently I knew very little about fishing. Less than that actually, although I’d probably made a few assumptions. I’m not claiming to currently harbour extensive fishing knowledge, rather, some monumental life changes have offered a unique insight from the perspective of virtual fishing, possibly an accidental phenomenon, but a phenomenon nonetheless. Before you close this page thinking this is a post all about fishing, bear with me for a moment. It’s about far more.
I never imagined I could have an interest in fishing. Countless subjects comprise the sum of all human knowledge and the average person will encounter a fraction of these. Our individual fields of ‘expertise’ are relatively small, even those of the most well-read polymath. My recent exposure to this new and fascinating discipline has caused me to question exactly how it is that we discover the subjects that spark our interest. How do we find those things we’re passionate about? Is it accidental? Is fate involved? Does fate exist at all?
In this digital age we’re exposed to a constant stream of information and opinions. It seems to me that we spend more time filtering to find something that grabs our attention than we do gaining new knowledge, despite preference-targeting search engine algorithms. There are, of course, none-internet-dependent ways to research subjects. Undoubtedly there will be chance encounters providing exposure to new experiences, but it strikes me just how much influence is wielded by the significant people in our lives, those we love and respect. We take an interest in the things that they’re passionate about. This is how I find myself engaging in a weekly ritual of virtual fishing.
I must first explain that I have met a remarkable man. Not just any man, but ‘the one’. The one I have dreamed of and thought I’d never meet. The one who, on first inspection, seems far too good to be true, but is proving to be entirely true, to the extent that we are connected and entirely compatible on every conceivable level like two halves of the same soul. This happened, like things tend to, when least expected, at a time when I wasn’t looking for a man of any particular description. The fact that I have stumbled upon one who is remarkable is, in itself, amazing, and that’s a definite understatement. I could very easily elaborate on all the characteristics of this wonderful man to further my point. Suffice to say, he is!
This man has eclectic interests, with particular passions for nature, photography and fishing. Of late, we have fallen into a very pleasant weekend routine. As things currently stand, we are maintaining a long distance relationship, and as such, we tend to engage in lengthy early morning telephone conversations. On Saturdays, these tend to take place while my lovely man is fishing, and as a result, we have discovered that there is such a thing as virtual fishing.
Saturday dawns and I wake early, previously unprecedented for me, especially at the weekend, and on making a telephone call to my love, am instantly transported from the urban sprawl on the Southern edge of the city of Manchester, to the serenely peaceful environment of the private lake where he has been fishing since the sun rose. I can hear the persistent bird song and the gentle splashing and trickling of the water. I am there with him…
I listen to the passion in his voice as he describes the day. He tells me which birds we can hear singing, those he has seen, the temperature, the wind direction and the quality of the light, which play a vital role in determining his fishing strategy for the day. He has selected his fishing position at the lake taking these factors into account in a scientific way that appeals to me. He has interrogated the weather forecast in the days prior to the weekend and has previously visited the lake, a trip on which I will likely have accompanied him in a similar virtual manner, in order to pre-bait and observe the behaviour of the fish, all of which I have learnt, are vital to the following day’s strategy and are carried out just as meticulously.
He describes the bait he’s using, of which there is a surprisingly diverse selection, and the finer details of how this has been presented to the fish, planned well in advance to take account of fish behaviour and mood. I have learnt that fish have an amazing sense of smell and the variety of bait on offer takes full advantage of this. I’d never have imagined luncheon meat with a liberal coating of curry powder might be used for such a purpose. A range of liquid attractants can be employed to enhance bait in the manner of mythical potions, by supplementing the aroma of pineapple or strawberry for example, all of which I find extraordinary. I have by now, seen a variety of fishing minutiae in images sent of bait, hooks and rod tips. I joke that he has wooed me with photographs of fishing tackle, but the fact is, I am thrilled and fascinated to be sharing the finer details of such a very personal part of his life for which he has such great passion.
It seems that fishing, whilst apparently calm and serene, is in fact a battle of wits between this ninja of an angler and the evasive fish conspiring to outwit him. When they are taunting him with their visible presence but refusing to bite, we discuss which alternative tactic might next be employed from the armoury of equipment to hand in his meticulously packed kit.
Suddenly, a relaxed moment discussing any manner of our favourite topics will be interrupted by an exclamation. I am captivated by the excitement in his voice as he breathlessly describes every manoeuvre of the gullible fish hooked on the end of his line and battling to escape. There is ultimate respect for the fish at this point and every measure to protect and avoid damage to this beautiful creature is described in detail. I find that I am holding my breath listening to the struggle, which is punctuated by grunts of effort and a variety of expletives, promptly followed by apologies in our earlier fishing encounters, but which I have now endlessly assured my wonderful man that these merely add to the reality of the experience and render him more human and infinitely more adorable in his self-deprecation. As the struggle continues, I learn that it is the smaller fish that battle the hardest. This war of attrition concludes in the landing of an inevitably magnificent creature, regardless of size or species, and I can breath again. I hear the splashing as the fish is coaxed into the net, and I can hear the smile on his face as he speaks gentle words to the fish to calm it and skilfully removes the hook with the minimum of damage.
I am in awe of his immense respect for nature, his knowledge and his passion for fishing. He opines on the beauty of the fish he catches and the complexity of their behaviour as he gently returns them to the lake after their brief encounter. This is a man who has changed my world view. I can hear the birdsong, to which I was previously largely oblivious, and I constantly wonder at the amazing diversity of our planet. We plan to spend the rest of our days together, and there are countless practicalities and life issues, such as work and current location, to resolve before that will happen, but it will happen. When it does, we have a world of experiences to share, but until then, at least we have virtual fishing.
Images courtesy of Andy Mackenzie, 2014
Filed under: Personal