ugly fish

Photo Credit: Lisa Hierholzer

July 12, 2023–If golf is a good walk, ruined, then fishing is a good nap, wasted.

This won’t make me popular with fisherpeople (not a big deal–the USS Popular has long sailed from that dock), but I simply do not understand the appeal of fishing.

You buy costly gear.

You touch smelly bait.

You work with barbed hooks that are impossible to extract from your lower back.

It requires a working knowledge of knots. Tied in fishing line. That is invisible.

You are required to drive somewhere far away and un-airconditioned to do it.

After all this prep, even the best fisherpeople will fail to take a single pisces. And they still consider that a successful trip.

The only thing worse than going fishing without catching anything, is going fishing and catching an actual fish.

That triggers a whole new timeline of disgust and inconvenience.

You yank the angry animal out of the water, avoiding spikes, barbs, and fins.

You remove the previously-referenced un-take-out-able barbed hook from the mouth of this angry, writhing, slimy creature.

You must keep track of the fish the rest of the day, carrying and coddling it to keep it alive until you club it with a rock back at the campsite.

At that point, your immersion in the experience of fishing becomes all encompassing. You must decapitate, disembowel, de-scale, and de-bone this thing, a process which requires touching indescribable body parts that are slimy and infuse your fingers with a distinct aroma you will wear for the next week, which invariably includes an intimate event where you are confined in a small space with important personages.

After all that trouble, what do you have?


A 1945 book about fishing included an entire chapter titled “How to Dispose of Dead Fish,” that included “stuffing them in someone’s mailbox,” “hiding them in potted plants,” or just “tossing them from car windows at night.”

Well-meaning and generous fisherpeople have gifted me with fish from time to time. I dutifully put them in the freezer, then dig them out eight months later and toss over the back fence for the buzzards.

Besides, how often do you really eat fish? Maybe on Friday if you are Catholic. And admit it, if you really crave fish, it is easy to acquire in the shape of a stick, breaded, in a box with a raincoated fisherperson on the cover. Those have the added benefit of being easy to cook and offering none of the appearance, smell, or flavor of actual fish.

This is not a diatribe against fishing per se. “Fishing” is a metaphor for all activities that are boring for every person not actually involved in doing them. Here I include golf, tennis, skiing, bowling, and pickleball.

I have been complicit in participating in several of those so-called sports, then retiring to the lounge where we endlessly dissect every stroke, lob, and smash.

Which leads me to conclude it’s not the actual activity that bonds like-minded souls; it’s the “talking about it” that holds us together. We share a secret language and lore, whether it’s about guns, guitars, or golf clubs. Fisherpeople are just another high school clique that never stopped clicking.

So if you enjoy fishing, enjoy fishing, and don’t bother telling me about it. I’ll be able to smell it.