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Catch N' Release

Submitted by: Tim R.

“I’ve heard of people like you, but I never thought I’d meet one!” the fish seemed to say as I retrieved the hook from its upper lip.

I love to fish. Oh, how I love to go fishing.

Ever since Uncle Ally took me to the Shark River inlet on the coast of New Jersey when I turned four years old, I have loved fishing. My catch that day, almost 60 years ago, consisted of a two-inch blowfish I pulled up with a crab net, and a similar-sized shrimp I acquired with my hook and bamboo pole. And Uncle Ally, he could spin a yarn - especially while fishing.

“How did the river get its name?” I asked.

“Some of the biggest, meanest sharks have been caught off this bridge,” he said through a moon-faced grin beneath his wide-brimmed straw hat. “Men with twelve-inch diameter reels and one-inch thick rods would haul in monster sharks off the bridge we are standing on this morning. Smelly dead chickens full of maggots for bait, impaled on six-inch hooks tied to wire line, worked every time.”

As I took the shrimp from my hook, I smiled thinking I’m glad no shark grabbed my sand warm this time. I’d never be able to pull in a shark!

Through the decades that passed (I am now 63) I’ve heard of Catch and Release. In the past, I’ve regarded C & R people as different. I would think to myself Hey, if you don’t like eating fish, give them to me, never realizing their deeper motivation...until lately.

Please understand that next to fishing, my Number 2 sport is eating - especially fish.

Well, a couple of summers ago I decided to try C & R, and did I get blessed.

I’m out on Lake Montrose in Montrose, Pennsylvania in a canoe casting with a weighted rubber worm, when something aggressive hits my hook. Up he comes through the water’s surface and shoots at least three feet into the air. The sun glistening off its dark wet back. Water drops splashing everywhere exhibiting rainbow colors of refracted sunlight.

After three displays of acrobatic high leaps and dives, I have him at the side of the canoe. Now, he is banging and thrashing like a bobcat caught in a cardboard box. I lean over the side of the canoe and whisper “Hello fish. Don’t you know I’m into catch and release?”

The 18-inch smallmouth bass stops thrashing and seems to be listening more intently than most people. One eye looks into mine with an expression that says "I’ve heard of guys like you, but I never thought I’d meet one."

I reached down into the water and grabbed that mighty fish by his lower jaw. After holding him up for a closer look, I removed the hook, smiled and lowered this worthy opponent to his arena - the cool lake.

He wiggled off to parts unknown, leaving us both content.

Catch and Release fishing adds a new dimension for both fish and fisherman.

Fish is happy to be free.

Fisherman is free to be happy with the Catch and joy to Release the fish.

I hope you don’t wait 60 years to try C & R … I guarantee a blessing if you try it today.

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