Last year was tough on everyone, but I did see a positive and interesting development that came out of the COVID crisis.
It’s been well reported that the fishing industry benefited as people spent more time on the water, including those with limited experience.
But there was another beneficiary that stands out to me: the social aspect. People discovered the importance of spending time with family in the outdoors.
I saw it from one end of the country to the other. Not only were boat ramps filled during weekdays, but there were a noticeable number of anglers fishing with their wives and children.
Obviously, the fact that being outdoors was encouraged and that it provided people escape from the lockdown contributed to the high number of angling activities.
During all of that, people began re-evaluating what was important to them and came back to activities with family and friends away from confined areas.
Fishing provided the vehicle, a refuge from all of the uncertainty in the world, and people reconnected with the purest form of life — nature.
That’s something I’ve preached for years; fishing is one of the last vehicles for the masses to rediscover their relationship with nature and how it delivers us health and quality of life.
I recall my childhood days when my dad used to say, “I’ll go nuts if I don’t go fishing this week.”
We thought he was joking but now, looking back, it wasn’t a joke. He had a high-pressure job and needed to get back into nature to recharge his batteries and retain his sanity.
Many of us put a lot of emphasis on catching fish, and that certainly makes it more enjoyable. Consciously or subconsciously, spending time on the water while taking in the sounds and sights brings us that much closer to nature and fulfills an undeniable need with a strong healing element to it.
When I was a kid, I spent time in the mountains at my grandmother’s place in Oklahoma. I recall following my dad through the creeks there and how hard he fished and how much he enjoyed it. He would literally wear us out, but we always learned something.
So, when Melissa said we were having our first son, my gut told me we had to find a place near a creek in the woods. I knew that he would learn more wandering in those woods and along the creeks than I could ever teach him.
It’s out there where we learn about the real world, how everything in nature serves a critical role in life and how we need to remain connected to it.
That’s even more evident as I watch my youngest son develop. He’s a senior in high school and a straight A student.
He can tell you everything you want to know about computers, yet when we walk in the woods he transforms into another human being. When we fish local tournaments together, he likes the feeling of the cool morning air and the surprise of seeing something he hadn’t previously seen along the bank.
He lives in the world as a computer geek but stays connected with his body and senses by living in the woods and enjoying what it has to offer.
And that’s similar to what I saw on our waters last year: society benefiting from being outdoors.
Sure, we have to make tough choices in life.
But it’s on the water and in the woods where we find sanctity with nature and can recharge our batteries, reconnect with our minds and body and regain our sanity.