I am about to go fishing. Don’t ask me why. You don’t need a reason to go fishing. That’s one of the great things about it. It is reasonless work.
My late father-in-law taught me that.
Certainly, some men fish like they are on a mission for the U.S. government. These men are either constipated, or they drink Coke Zero.
But for most of us, fishing is just sitting on a boat and fighting off dehydration. It is a beautiful waste of time. And it is even more wasteful when you throw fish back, like I do.
I haven’t always released fish. I used to keep them, and I would even pay to get the big ones mounted.
In my office, for example, there are five fish on the wall. In my den, six.
There is a nice redfish I had mounted by an old man in Choctaw Beach, long ago. He would mount fish for twenty-five bucks. He was a little senile, and he screwed up one of my fish by painting it green.
When people see this fish, they often say, “What kinda fish is that?”
“A very jealous one,” I say.
And nobody laughs because that is the worst joke you will ever hear.
But somewhere along the way, I started releasing fish. I would drag them into the boat and I couldn’t bring myself to gut them. So I would remove the hook, name the fish, and let them go.
I have named nearly a thousand fish in my day.
The first one I ever named was while fishing with my father-in-law, Brother Jim—I never referred to my father-in-law any other way.
I caught a speckled trout on a number-six hook, and I felt bad for the fish. I kept thinking about what it must be like to be a speckled trout. I wondered if the…