Why Do We Fish?

By Jimmy Harris of Unicoi Outfitters

Recently I was reading an article in a trade magazine on why people fish, and it got me thinking that this is a question a lot of us ask ourselves. The summary of the article was that 40% of anglers fish for fun. That’s it, pure and simple fun. My granddaughter has recently been learning to cast a fly rod, and at one point her mom told me she was getting so nervous about getting it right that she wasn’t enjoying it. My response was that there’s no pressure to get it right; that takes the fun out of it. As my friend Henry Williamson says, “Dang, Jimmy, it’s just fishing.”

Interestingly, in the article only about 14% of anglers fish to catch fish to eat. When I was growing up, long before the catch and release mentality took hold, we kept pretty much everything we caught and then we ate it. These days, I keep very few fish, mostly because I’m too lazy to mess with cleaning them, but I also realize there are some fish populations that benefit from catch and release.

Another 33% of anglers reported that they fish to relax. It almost seems the “fun” anglers and the “relaxed” anglers could be lumped into one group, but I think I understand the difference. Personally, it continues to amaze me that after almost six decades of fishing how I can step into a stream with a fishing rod in my hand and totally forget about all the pressures of day-to-day life. It’s just me and that critter with a brain the size of a pea.

Fishing is the most therapeutic drug available to me, and I take it as often as I can. My wife Kathy is fully aware of it, and will often mention to me that she thinks I need to go fishing. She really loves me!