spotted tail of a weakfish held by angler

Catch and Release

A Bass Swirls.  An Osprey Calls.  A Star Falls From the Sky. 

Fish long enough and you'll find yourself angling less for fish than for moments of grace on the water.  You release your catch and string memories together instead.

In such moments, Izaak Walton wrote that he was "lifted above earth and possessed joys not promised in my birth."  Walton's book, The Compleat Angler, is the second most-reprinted book in the English language.

What to make of the enduing appeal of a book about fishing written in 1653?  Tom McGuane, the great writer and angler, explains that Walton's masterpiece is less about how to fish than how to live. Specifically, "a handbook for overcoming alienation from nature."

Today our lives are increasingly unmoored from nature, out of sync with the circadian rhythms of life.  Most of us get relatively little sunlight and fresh air.  We've lost sight of nature, gazing through windows on a digital universe. 

We are starved of connections with nature.  Every shoreline beckons us - an antidote to soothe our physical and spiritual longing for the outdoors.

But, McGuane again: "It is not given to every soul pinning for the natural world to be a naturalist" and most of us require a game to play whether angling, sailing, hiking or bird watching.  Walton tells us "how watchfulness and awe can be taken within from the natural world." 

More than 350 years after Walton, we go out on the water seeking moments of grace on the water.  Perhaps the best of these are when we release the fish we catch. 

hooked striped bass jumping under a full moonTaking Flight, Hook Life Art


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