One of the many benefits of living close to the land is getting familiar with the ebbs and flows of the lakes, creeks, and rivers near your home. Whether it be traveling by foot down a worn streamside path, or driving on a little-known country lane, regularly examining the seasonal changes of your local fishing hole is a big part of sustainable rural living. It is these weekly endeavors that make one realize that you are not living away from it all, you are in fact living within it all. There is a feeling of abundance in living on well-tended or natural land. You can create your own brand of farm to table with what you grow, gather and hunt.
Proximity to the wild affords you the opportunity to take in sights, and to have experiences that others must plan a year or more in advance to do. Perhaps its that fishing trip you always wanted to take, and now its right outside your door, and you are your own guide.
It is easy to see why fishing is thought of as just a sport. Opening day in Spring can be quite competitive. Old timer’s you pass along the banks will chide you a bit, reminding you “That’s why they call it fishing and not catching.” When you grow up in the sport, it is a little easier on the ego to accept this chiding, you learn the delicate balance of winning some and losing some. A nibble here, a hit there, sometimes a line cast that goes awry leaving you with a handful of string and an hour of busy work next to the shore. Arguably, an hour of busy work next to the shore feels a lot more fulfilling than an hour of busy work at a desk, and commute in the country cannot be beat.
Fishing provides a deeper sense of accomplishment; it leaves you with a feeling of sustainability and resilience. You learn to read the water and understand how the weather and seasonal changes impacts the day’s catch. You learn how to examine the winged insects lighting off and over the water’s surface like you were the great American Biologist, E.O. Wilson, trying to match the hatch with a fly of your own. To the untrained eye, it may appear as though you are just as a person milling about near the shore. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The truth is that fishing invites you back into the wild and untamed parts of your core self, the place of intuitive self-sufficiency with a heightened awareness unparalleled. Although fishing is not always catching, the act of fishing is reward enough. Some days it can feel like just a sport, but at its root, it is an ancient tradition for those who choose to truly live off the land.
by Sharon Holley