Saturday, March 04, 2006

The lure of fishing

click photo to enlarge
Konrad Lorenz (1903-1989), the Austrian zoologist and founder of modern ethology once said, and I'm paraphrasing from memory, that civilized man seems to be afraid to be alone with his own thoughts. As I recall he ascribed the rise of "muzak" and the Walkman to this need to be distracted from thinking. He felt that the human condition and the threats that man sees himself facing - from nuclear weapons downwards - are too much for many to contemplate. What he would have thought of the modern mp3 player and the present day obsession with doomsday thinking - asteroid impact, global warming, bird flu (make your own list) - I can only imagine.

Whether or not one agrees with Lorenz's thinking, it can't be denied that people today seem to crave stimulation and distraction. Constant music through headphones, 24 hour TV, video and the rest, certainly supply it, and it often seems that if you want quiet, and time for reflection, you have to actively seek out a place where this can happen. Which brings me to fishing, and this question. Is the attraction of fishing that it gives you time to think? Let's face it, there has to be something more than the fish! It's often a wet and cold pastime, and if you're a seafisherman night-time fishing and seasickness are also involved. Perhaps the hours that it gives for quiet thought is the real reason that it is so popular. And come to think of it, I've rarely see a fisherman with headphones!

This photograph shows fishermen on the Lancaster Canal at Garstang, Lancashire. Freezing weather has meant that they have had to break the ice to indulge their passion, and the number, and their proximity to each other suggests that a competitive match is taking place. I took this shot from a canal bridge, and liked it for the serpentine line of the canal with the evenly spaced fishermen intently watching their patches of ice-free water.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen