I’ve not spent much time on the water the last few years. I guess I could blame it on work, but that’s too easy. Perhaps part of it is the conflict I feel between doing something I’ve loved and the consequences of that thing. There’s a part of me that knows that trout are “lower” animals, but I guess the bleeding-heart, tree-hugging liberal in me can’t help but notice the survival instinct these beautiful creatures display when a shadow crosses their water. Maybe it’s just Disney-esque anthropomorphism in action, but I can’t get it out of my head. Perhaps nobody expresses it better than this –
“…For them, it is not a game, and certainly not a dance. On some days I feel it’s hypocritical to profess love for these creatures while endangering and abusing them so wantonly; better to enjoy the thrill of the sport honestly, kill what I catch, and stop fishing when I’ve had a surfeit of killing. On other days I do dearly enjoy holding them in the water, gentling them as they regain breath and balance and command of their muscles, then watching them swim away. The dilemma remains unresolved.
“Yet each man kills the thing he loves,” wrote Oscar Wilde, and I keep wondering how a person of Wilde’s urban and cerebral predilections knew so goddamn much about trout fishing.
“Why do you live in Montana?” people ask. For the trout, I answer. “Oh, you’re one of those fanatical fisherman types?” No, not so much anymore, I say. It’s just a matter of knowing that they’re here.” – David Quammen – “Wild Thoughts from Wild Places”, 1998