It is a fact well known to students of human nature and angling, that a fisherman will often turn his back on good fishing near at hand for the sake of trying his luck on little, inconsequential ponds and rivers which no one ever heard of particularly but are darkly rumored to "swarm" with huge bass. Sometimes you do, indeed, catch a few bass; oftener you do not. Always you put in many hours of hard work tramping the woods, swinging a paddle or pulling the oars, and at the end of the trip invariably "Never Again" is your slogan.
Some little time thereafter, running over in your mind the various events of your latest prospecting fiasco, you realize that, after all, you have had a mighty good time; that it is not all of bass fishing to kill bass; and that on these little prospecting tours you experience to the fullest extent all of the things which make fishing really worthwhile—although you do not catch even one small bass.
The call of strange waters, little ponds "way off" in the woods, the upper reaches of rivers as yet unexploited by anglers, is practically irresistible. For a time, when camping out, the fishing is within easy reach from the camp. Then, no matter how fine may be the sport at the home-camp, a side trip on the chance of connecting with an imaginary record fish, or finding some purely hypothetical lake is always in order. The rightly constructed angler is an indefatigable explorer, although at least half the time and from the strictly practical point of view the object of his explorations is somewhat vague. It is manifestly foolish to leave first-class fishing for the merely supposititious sport afforded by some little known and possibly non-existent lake or river, but we all do it.
Just why a man will tear his way through the woods for days in order to reach a place where "the hand of man has never set foot," which, after all, is quite like any other place, is difficult to comprehend. And the mental status of the angler who pulls, pushes, and paddles a canoe and half a ton of excess baggage and fishing tackle up a river for the express purpose of wetting his line "farther up" than anyone else has ever been crazy enough to fish is, to say the least, unstable if not dangerous. Of course the reason is usually the supposititious larger fish and better fish in the presumably un-fished waters. But the world is already pretty small and annually growing smaller, and every angler knows, or has reason to know that at the present stage of the game all the best fishing waters are neither lost, strayed, or stolen; their locations are definitely known and duly recorded in the railroad guide-books. This is from the common-sense point of view—which, of course, should be entirely disregarded as it has no bearing on the matter.
Just so long, however, as the old saw that it is not all of fishing to catch fish holds true, anglers will continue to chase the will o' the wisp of better fishing, or bigger fish, "farther up" or "farther in," anywhere, in fact, except where you are, always provided the place is sufficiently inaccessible. Inaccessibility of location makes a sporting proposition of any little old mud bottomed pond that has nothing in it but bull-frogs, bull-heads, and possibly three or four slab-sided pickerel. Any duly accredited angler will risk his neck to fish such a place as this; and when, naturally, the trip turns out a brilliant failure, although he may protest strenuously against his "luck," way down in his heart he knows that he has got exactly what he went for —whatever that may be—and that, really, he is quite ready to do it all over again.
Camp, Samuel Granger. The Fine Art of Fishing. New York: Outing Pub., 1911. Print.
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