Fishing, Catching, Releasing, Telling

By Mike Johnson

During my 7-Eleven years, Saturday was my favorite day. Id magnified its value by cavalierly handing five other days to the company.

For a spell, I used this sliver of freedom to fish for bass.

Monday through Friday, while visiting stores and managing people, Id daydream of all things fishing. The smallest aspects of freedom always grow larger within the walls of captivity.

I researched rods and reels during lunchbreaks. Daiwa was the big name in the reel industry then. Graphite rods were gaining popularity. I imagined buying my top-of-the-line rig a thousand times before I actually made the purchase.

This greatly multiplied its value. Just like Saturdays.

Id arise at 3am, an hour earlier than normal. This gave time for reading and writing, yet still got me to the fishing hole by dawn.

Id found a weir that dropped water at the edge of vegetation in a fresh water canal. It was the perfect 6-foot circle for largemouth bass to wait for food.

The rod and reel performed perfectly. The crank bait landed right in the center. The fish struck, I sank the hook and the fight was on. It was a monster.

No witnesses, just me and the fish in the middle of nowhere.

I leaned against his pull, my taunt line slicing random patterns on the surface as he burst in multiple directions underneath.

I relished the moment.

I knew he was securely hooked. I knew he was large. I knew my equipment would bring him in.

I reeled him to shore, grabbed his lower jaw and lifted him into our atmosphere. He was a beauty. Proud with both length and girth, just over 4 pounds.

You never have enough hands at this moment. I quickly removed the barbless hook, captured his weight and took the luxury of admiring him for five seconds while whispering fishy sweet-nothings.

Then I gently released him in the canal.

It was the best five minutes of fishing Id ever had. Id found the perfect spot. Prepared with the best gear. Plunked an accurate cast. And sure enough, just as Id supposed, a big, hungry fish was waiting right there.

Ten minutes later, a game warden stepped out of his pickup. Another perfect moment. I looked the part, had the correct license, belonged where I was and got to tell a great story.

Today, I have total freedom. But I no longer fish. I no longer need to catch or release. I enjoy the telling.

When freedom is rare, any favored activity seems bigger.

When freedom is abundant, any favored activity regains proper perspective.

Fishing. Catching. Releasing. Telling.

All have their season.

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