Fishing for Food, Fun, and Fitness

March 22nd, 2015 | By Marjie No Comments

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It is tempting to begin this article by writing “I enjoy fishing.” In all truth, I do enjoy fishing, but I’ve only been fishing (as in, with a rod and reel and bait) about four times in my life.  As a kid at church camp, I fished with a safety pin tied to a string with no bait, and caught many a bluegill that way because they were so used to campers throwing bread into the water that they would bite anything.  But almost everyone knows someone who loves to fish, and I am lucky to know a lot of true fishing enthusiasts.

Fishing for Fun

Whatever your age or gender, fishing can be a very enjoyable pastime. Old or young, male or female, fishing is a pastime that brings different people together.

Just as its fans come from diverse groups, fishing itself can unfold in a number of diverse ways.  It can be very relaxing or very physically demanding … and anything in between. Some of you reading this might envision Tom Sawyer lounging on the riverbank holding a tree branch with a line attached. Others might picture Brad Pitt fly fishing in “A River Runs Through It.” Still others might think of a two-hour struggle between fisher and marlin on an ESPN show about deep sea fishing.

One of the most relaxing things about fishing is that you are away from phones, computers, television, and obligations. This quiet time often results in wonderful conversation, which many families might find difficult to have in the course of a normal, busy day.

Your own idea of “fishing for fun” will depend on your personal taste. River fishing can be done as you float along in a canoe or kayak. Lake fishing can be managed as you relax on the bank. Fly fishing is done standing in the shallows. Ask yourself what you consider ‘fun’ and then consider which type (or types!) of fishing you would enjoy. Some people love all kinds!

Part of the fun of fishing is the cleaning and cooking of your bounty. If you’re camping or picnicking, you can spend some time as a family getting the fish ready, then cooking them over an open fire or a camp stove.  And if you think you’re going to be squeamish with the cleaning process, just remember that most people who fish say it’s not any worse than changing a diaper or cleaning up after a pet.

Fishing for Food

My stepfather was an avid fisher, especially walleye and crappie. But to my knowledge he never ate a bite of fish … not one. He just didn’t care for the taste of fish, but he sure loved the fishing (and catching). This is the best evidence I can share that fishing is not just for fish eaters.

I, on the other hand, could enjoy a good meal of fish almost every day of the week: catfish, salmon, haddock, orange roughy, halibut, trout, crappie, walleye … almost anything that used to swim is something I would like for dinner.

And many types of fish are very healthy for you. Doctors have acknowledged that the unsaturated fats in many fish, called omega-3 fatty acids, appear to reduce the risk of heart disease. So eating fish is not only enjoyable for your taste buds, but for the rest of you as well.

Here in Georgia, we have an abundance of freshwater fish, from catfish to large and small mouth bass, crappie to trout, perch to walleye. You can see the entire (and very lengthy) list of Georgia’s fish population at fishesofgeorgia.uga.edu. Many of these are food fish, even though they are not popularly known as such.

Fishing for Fitness

Maybe Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn would disagree, but I know for a fact that fishing can offer a great workout from the cardio, strength, balance, and even cognitive perspectives!

Fishing can required hiking through wooded areas to reach bodies of water, or climbing over rocks and logs to reach a prime location for casting.  The act of casting itself requires coordination and strength.  Even standing in flowing water or standing on wet rocks requires balance and concentration, and that balance and concentration is multiplied during the tug-of-war that happens between human and fish when the fish finally bites!

The mental aspects of fishing might be less obvious, but are still just as much a factor in the sport.  Finding and catching fish throughout the year requires understanding of the fish’s habitats, habits, tastes, and behavior.  Planning is involved to make sure that the proper tools and bait are brought for the trip.  The angler must also be familiar with the behavior of the fish he or she is looking for, in order to know what time the fish would be likely to be hungry or where the fish would be likely to look for food.  Fish have the home field advantage during a fishing trip, so effectively outsmarting them definitely takes thought, research, and planning beforehand!

While there are different sorts of fishing that all provide different experiences, almost all fishing fans can agree that it is a lifetime sport. It can be done and enjoyed by all ages, all genders, and it is a continual learning experience. You will never ‘know all there is to know’ about this sport.

Final Thoughts

Fishing can range from very inexpensive to extremely costly, depending on the kind of fishing you do (lake, deep sea, etc.) and what your goals are. A basic fishing pole can cost $10 if it’s a child’s first-time gear, while experienced fly fishers may spend $800 or more for their rod and reel. Think about your costs for bait, boat, gas and tackle, too.

Georgia requires an annual fishing license for anyone 16-64 years of age; those over 65 can purchase a lifetime license. They are extremely affordable. Visit http://www.georgiawildlife.org for specific fees and exceptions and explore www.takemefishing.org for more information about fishing.

As sports go, fishing can be extremely affordable and easy to begin learning. It’s something you can do alone, with a friend, or with your entire family, paddling in a canoe, relaxing on the lake shore, or sitting on a dock full of strangers.

One thing you’ll never have to ‘fish’ for, though, once you start fishing for fun, food, or fitness, is someone who shares a love for this pastime.

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