There’s more to fishing than catching fish. Most anglers know that. For me it’s therapy. I’ve seen my share of tragedy over the course of my life, nothing more so than my first born fighting for her life and her eventual passing.
Sparing great detail, I will tell you that she spent the majority of her short life in the hospital. As parents my wife and I focused all of our energy on her, and one, if not both, of us were bedside the entire time. It was the most difficult, mentally draining year of our lives. Everything else, including fishing, was insignificant.
There was a brief moment when my wife and I both agreed that it may be good for me to get away for a day or two and clear my head, so I did just that, but standing river side the guilt and worry was so overwhelming it made me physically ill and it wasn’t long until I was back by her side.
Not until after my daughters passing was I able to return to the water. In all honesty it was tough at first to do anything that felt remotely normal, but as I eased myself back into life I realized there was two things getting me through; my wife’s unconditional love and support; and fishing.
I know a lot of people who use their fishing time to reflect. For me it’s not really about reflection. Sure from time to time maybe it is, but for the most part it’s about focus. Fishing gives me something to concentrate on and channels all of my focus to one single act. Everything wrong, worrisome and stressful in my life disappears, replaced by the task at hand. The result is a clear mind that remains well beyond the river bank.
Never in my life have I had to force myself to go fishing, but those first few weeks after my daughters passing I had to do just that (some days I had to force myself to simply get out of bed). At first it seemed ridiculous and every day I questioned exactly what the hell I thought I was doing going fishing at a time like this, but it worked. Fishing was my coping mechanism. Fishing was my therapy.