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Why We Fish

March 24, 2016

By Chris Erwin

A question often on the lips of the unindoctrinated is: Why do you fish? While it may seem to be easy to answer, it is more complicated than you might think.
When I talk to people that have never been part of the fishing world they sometimes have no idea what drives people like me to fall in love with a sport, which I have pursued all of my life.

Author Chris Erwin's grandson Tyler Thomas in 2008 when he decided he didn't need to use live bait any longer. Fishing is the connection that has kept our family close. (photo by Chris Erwin)

Author Chris Erwin’s grandson Tyler Thomas in 2008 when he decided he didn’t need to use live bait any longer. Fishing is the connection that has kept our family close. (photo by Chris Erwin)

To answer that question, I have to start at the beginning. I remember back when I was about 10-years-old. I lived on the banks of the Ohio River in a little place referred to as Sandy City. It was right at the edge of the Ashland and Catlettsburg city limits.

Our property ran all the way to the river and part was my father’s garden. It was forbidden for me to go there alone, a rule that cost me stripes on my naked legs more than once. Back then corporal punishment was common and while I always believed I had the best parents in the world, a willow switch was still my price to pay for sneaking off to the river.

I would live there until the 6th grade when we moved to South Ashland. However, this place would set the stage for my love of water and my desire to discover all its secrets.

The one place I could go that wasn’t going to get me in trouble was the three ponds at the top of the 55th Street hill. For any of you that don’t know where that is, it is the location of the Golden Oaks Cemetery. My third-grade teacher lived so close she could go out on her porch and check on me and let my mother know if I was OK. This place and the forbidden river were my playground for my young life adventures.
The big bluegills in the ponds were my quest. For me to feel that kicking, fighting fish as I pulled them up on the bank was like hitting a home run with the bases loaded. I got to bring them home as my badge of honor. Back then my grandmother would make over the catch. She was thrilled to clean them and fry them up with some of her cornbread that to this day is unmatched in great eating.

I have written before about moving to Ashland and meeting Henry Ditez an older man who needed someone to be with him. During my early years, he took me to all the streams in the area where he taught me all the fundamentals of what I know about fishing to this day.
While all of this kept me interested in the sport, it wasn’t until my kids got about four or so that fishing took on a new life. They say we often live our lives through our children. I really don’t know if that is totally true, but I can tell you this: If you ever have the chance to help a child catch his first fish and watch him light up with excitement, you can understand that statement.

My children, one son and one daughter, are both over 40 now but they love fishing every bit as much as I do. All of their lives we have camped and fished together. It has kept us connected and the hours in my boat with my kids cannot be replaced with anything that would have made us any closer together.

Oh we had girl scouts, little league football as a family and they were all good. We did them all, but that time in the boat alone with my kids was the place where we became friends; where we shared our excitement for nature together. It was a place where we could talk without it being a parent talking to a kid. We were just out there on the water enjoying our adventure.

So to sum up why we fish, I would have to say: Because it was, and is, that place of connection between family, nature and the adventures we could share together.
As we begin the 2016 season do something for yourself! Take a kid fishing, capture that first-time thrill all over again and build the bonds that last a lifetime. Keep a tight Line.

Chris Erwin is the Author of Camping Kentucky, founder and publisher of Kentucky Angling News an on-line magazine available at www.kentuckyangling.com/magazine Chris can be reached by email chris@ashlandbeacon.com

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