Fishing and Beauty

Martin said he had got up at 4.30am that morning and he had gone fishing. He said Steve [the artist] would have liked it as the mist rose in the water. (Kate Pahl, field notes)

To sit on the bank of the pond and watch the dancing flies, the sparkling water, the light on the water, is a profoundly beautiful experience. What is clear to us is that aesthetic aspects of fishing, the contact with nature, the slowing down of activity and the need to remain quiet, are integral to its ability to provide a space of contemplation for young people who might be having a hard time.

In the process of doing the project, young people and the youth workers described the experience of fishing. In these descriptions, the aesthetic experience of fishing comes to the fore. Silence, contemplation and stillness, as well as beauty, become core parts of what it means to fish. Passing on fishing from generation to generation required an aesthetic appreciation of what that might mean, how fishing is taught and transmitted. This is a different way of knowing from an instrumentalised notion of skill and wisdom, but is more situated and contingent upon experience.

Jean (youth worker): The beauty envelops you, the sun reflecting on the water, the little midges above the water, reflections in the waves, little frog, birds, and then you get the almighty snake swimming past, as much as the sun shining on the water, we have sat under an umbrella, it were pouring down, we didn’t care did we, we were sat in it, weren’t we, we didn’t care. We wanted to catch a fish weren’t we? It were pouring with rain—that’s another world, the pitter patter and pouring ofl^ edges and then you see it from a different angle (Discussion, November 2013)

Kirsty13 echoed this with her own comment:

Kirsty: Fishing helps you because it calms you down when you are sat there. What I found, with the pond, when I was watching it, I was really calm just watching the water. When it were like spitting a little bit it looked amazing on the water because it was so peaceful, you could see the little rings just spreading out. (Discussion, November 2013)

Here the poetic elements of these descriptions, the ‘spitting’ of the water and the sun reflecting on the water, permeate the experience of fishing. In films about fishing, light bounced across the water, and the heat and sunshine made the experience rich and meaningful.

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