This fish: there are many like it, but this one is mine.
Have you ever paused to consider just how minute the odds are that you would catch a specific fish out of the millions of others in the vastness of the sea? It is a delightful paradox, that given the right combination of natural conditions, judgement and skill you can be very hopeful of an encounter with a finned denizen of the deep, yet if it were possible to uniquely identify every fish in the sea it would be practically impossible to target any one of them with certainty.
Many a night on the eve of a long-awaited fishing trip, I have lain in bed wide awake after trying unsuccessfully to convince myself that I could use a couple hours’ extra rest. Oftentimes my mind would wander to the upcoming day on the water, and the promise it holds: the chance, by no means guaranteed, to experience yet another exquisite marvel of nature. And that after what seemed like an eternity of anticipation, I was finally poised on the threshold, so close yet so far. It was a miracle that I got any sleep at all!
Eventually the next day would play out, and all the anticipation would give way to a kind of heightened awareness, an increased presence in the moment. Factors like the remoteness or beauty of the location, the ferocity of the hit or the intensity of the strike all have an effect on the depth of the memory, but no matter the circumstances I have always held a deep respect for the fish who have seen fit to grace me with their company. It is a profoundly personal encounter that I have always tried to reciprocate by returning the fish to the water, and I sincerely hope that they live long and prosper.
So enjoy your fish. If it’s good eating then by all means take it back for the pot, or feel free to release it back where it came from if you feel it has more value swimming free in the sea than being presented on a dinner plate. But above all, relish the moment, for it’s an almost certain bet that you are not going to be catching the same fish twice.