Fisherman have things.
We collect things.
We keep things.
We associate things with fishing and fishing with things.
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Sometimes the things that are associated have nothing to do with catching a fish but have everything to with catching a fish. Sometimes it’s just an empty pill bottle. Because, a pill bottle makes a good container to hold random fish hooks and fish hooks need perfect containers and we anglers need our hooks to be in a perfect container.
Sometimes, it’s a bucket. Because, a bucket is not really a bucket. It is the single greatest invention known to an angler that has nothing to do with catching fish but everything to do with fishing.
From a bucket one can watch the sunrise and one can watch the farm pond bluegill swim in the muddy water while a four-year old kid splashes her hand and laughs as a kid should. From within a bucket, all of the things one needs and one never will, is stored and unorganized and toted by the handle and the purpose and uses of a bucket are as endless as the giggles from a four-year old splashing farm pond bluegills.
Sometimes it is a pair of needle-nose pliers. Because, needle nose pliers remove the hook from the lip of a fish and from the pinky finger of a dad and from the shirt and needle nose pliers crimp the soft lead weights at the end of the line. Needle nose pliers fit in the pocket of shorts and they clang around in the washing machine when you forget and they are used to fix the reel and fix the bent clasp on a tackle box and with surgical precision one can navigate the narrow places of a fish and remove the hook. Needle nose pliers rust and fade and weather and feel familiar and all of this, an angler knows.
Sometimes it’s the empty can of a sugary soda that rolls around in the back of a rusted and dented bed of a pick-up truck and this is an asynchronous noise, but relevant because it means the truck is on that old dirt path that courses through the cow pasture and it evolves down the hill and it is on this journey that a kid in a tank top could rest his right elbow on the door and laugh.
His dad drove and it was slow and the empty can had been tossed from the cab and with every bump and jostle it would clang and when the truck stopped, the door was open the tailgate down and so began fishing in this shaded place at the bottom of a hill. It wasn’t really the can. It wasn’t really the truck or the path through the pasture or the rhythm that wasn’t rhythm. It was all of it because it meant they were fishing.
Sometimes, it’s just a faded pair of cut-off jeans that have loose white strings, tickling the legs above the knee; sometimes it’s the rusted chain that affixes to the rusted nail that holds the rusted gate that when opens, allows entry into the pasture where the grass is green and the pond is still and all of this begins at the rusted chain affixed to the rusted nail.
And sometimes, it’s an empty coffee can that hold the worms, the rag you place in your back hip pocket, and sometimes it’s just seeing the empty cough drop wrappers in his tackle box and instead of removing them, you leave them because they remind you of a cough that never went away, like the memory that never goes away, too.
Fishing, by definition is about a hook and a fish and bait and line becoming tight. Yet, within the intricate matrix of fishing and angling there is the reality that all the things that have nothing to do with fishing actually have everything to do with fishing, even if these things have nothing to do with a hook and a fish and bait and line becoming tight.
Fisherman have things and some of these things have nothing to do with catching a fish. Yet, these things are necessary to fish.
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