Fishing has often been described as a solitary activity, a pastime for old men seeking to spend a quiet day by the seaside. No doubt I find it invigorating to return to nature and immerse myself in the intensely personal experience of a solo hunt, however more often I prefer spending my fishing trips enjoying the company of my family and friends. There is most certainly a social aspect to fishing, and the right company can make the difference between a fun fishing trip and a fantastic one. Let's look at some reasons why I enjoy going fishing with other people!
Sharing the surprises
A fishing trip is a fairly new experience for most of us, with quite a few firsts. Whether it's someone's first time going fishing on a boat, catching their first fish, or seeing some of the beautiful islands in Singapore's southern waters for the first time, the sea is full of secrets that are only revealed to those who venture out in search of them. (Be sure to stay tuned for our upcoming videos featuring sharks and dolphins right here in Singapore!)
As for me, I particularly enjoy bringing children out to fish, as I've been on the other side of the equation. Perhaps it speaks to the kid inside of me who once longed to set out on his next adventure, and I derive immense gratification from the look of joy that a first fish brings to an excited youngster.
Getting to know people
In my experience, it's usually been the case that fishing with someone has allowed me to get to know them better. In a single day of fishing, you may experience anything from the pure adrenaline of hooking up to a powerful fish, to the grief that borders on desolation should you be unfortunate enough to lose it. But that's fishing, and being able to observe how people (including ourselves) react under pressure, or how quickly they bounce back from disappointment, gives you an idea of who we all are as people.
It seems that, as the sparkling water reflects one's appearance in the bright midday sun, so does the fishing reflect their character in the heat (or lack thereof) of battle. People tend to open up to each other in the course of a day at sea, and you can see a side of someone which you may not have seen before, and in turn allow others to find out something about you that is new to them.
Solving problems together
Fishing is commonly perceived to require vast amounts of patience, calling to mind images of the old man by the sea waiting for hour upon lonely hour as time drags by. On the other hand, quite a few of the best anglers I've met would hardly subscribe to the notion of waiting around aimlessly for a bite. They tend to actively search for the fish, and are usually engaged in a perpetual quest to improve their skills or master new techniques.
I've previously referred to fishing as a puzzle where a fish is only successfully caught once the angler ticks all the right boxes. The thing is that in the absence of a catch, it is on the angler to figure out the missing piece of the puzzle: the fish is certainly not about to start talking to you to tell you! Anglers usually know how to play to their strengths, but good anglers will work together to crack the code for the day, trying different methods and eliminating possibilities to arrive at the pattern that maximises everyone's chances.
Banter, friendly competition, fishermen's stories
Of course, no fishing trip would be complete without the customary trading of tall tales! When the fish go off the bite, the hours are easily filled with anecdotes of how big and plentiful the fish used to be, how someone once dropped an expensive fishing setup into the sea, or how someone once succumbed to seasickness (to the amusement of everyone else).
Other times when the fish are around and biting, the excitement can be spiced up a few notches with a friendly wager. The prizes (and forfeits) vary, as do the rules of the competition, but one thing is certain: the question of whose fish is bigger will never quite be answered.
Chefs & recipes
There is nothing quite like sitting down after a hard day's fishing to enjoy a meal of fresh, organic fish caught by hand a few hours ago. While I prefer to steam my fresh fish, I am always happy to discuss other methods of preparing my catch. Every angler has his own favourite method for cooking each type of fish, and will usually be more than pleased to share it with you. If you are fortunate enough to be favoured with a live demonstration (or sampling), do not hesitate to grab the chance! Being able to savour the fruits of your combined labour together at the end of the day invariably results in full bellies and satisfied smiles all around the table.
A day out at sea can be a great opportunity to get away from it all and just spend time with the ones who matter to you. For one, short of jumping into the sea and swimming back to shore, everyone must remain on the boat for as long as it remains at sea, so distractions are better left on land. Meanwhile, live in the moment! Enjoy the ride, taste the salt spray, feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your skin, and never stop chasing the one that got away!