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Maxed out

“Many fish bites if ya gots good bait.” Taj Mahal, “Fishin’ Blues”



As hobbies, er, obsessions go, I guess fishing is no stranger than any other. This is not to say it isn't littered with whackos, rituals and just plain weirdness, but then what obsession isn't?

There is, however, security in numbers, and fishing is still the most widely practiced sport, hobby, distraction, time-waster in the world. It fulfills man's primal instincts to challenge nature, secure food and get things tangled up beyond hope.

Some people believe fishing is a metaphor for life. They are not fishermen; they are philosophers. Fishermen believe life is a metaphor for fishing. Fishermen - myself included - are fools. And any body of water filled with even the hope of a promise of fish, is a Fool's Paradise.

Of course this is not to be confused with the magnitude of foolishness our premier fool, Rear Entry Campbell, is messing around with, allowing monied interests to continue threatening B.C.'s wild salmon stocks with their ever-growing fish farms off the coast of Paradise. But then, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, we know what kind of man he is, we're just dickering over how big a fool he is. But I digress.

While I don't want to exclude women from anything, least of all fishing, at its very soul, fishing is a guy thing. Anything that involves that much pointless sitting around waiting for something to happen is, by definition, a guy thing. I think women would agree with that.

Fishing is one of those ironic activities that both define the cosmic essence of being a guy and at the same time undermine guyness in at least two significant ways. It has become a standing joke that guys are incapable of distinguishing between or naming more than six colours: red, green, blue, purple, orange and yellow. Women, on the other hand, can name at least six variations of an infinite number of colours, many of which only exist in cosmetics, home furnishings and seasonally changing fashion accessories.

This grossly unfair stereotype of colour-challenged manhood flies out the window as soon as a guy walks into a shop filled with fishing stuff, ironically called tackle. Standing before a wall of feathers, fluff, glass beads, plastic worms and brightly coloured bits of aluminum, a guy can suddenly distinguish between subtle shades of tan, olive, ecru, pink, fuchsia, lavender and, yes, even teal. All he has to do to accomplish this amazing transition in colour perception is - wait for it - think like a fish.

And if fishing destroys the myth of guys and colourblindness, it also lays waste to the generally held notion that guys don't accessorize. One need only observe a guy's progression of fishing accessories to understand how wrong that mean-spirited slander really is.