It is difficult to explain the kinds of joys in life that can come from calm moments, where the flow of time isn’t as overbearing as in day to day experience. To understand these sorts of moments, one has to really experience them for oneself.
Fishing in the lagoon systems of Palmetto Dunes is one satisfying way to do this. On the lagoon, there is a smooth interplay of the warm air offset by the occasional cool breeze that blows through the reed grass lining the banks of the lagoon. The wind blows over the water causing ripples drowned in the sun to glisten like cut diamonds. The sea air mingles with the smell of the lush vegetation that permeates the area around the water. Everything seems smooth, and peaceful. Meanwhile the soft buzz of cascades, salt-water birds, and the distant sound of the shore breaking, merge to construct a unified symphony, performed by nature all around the lagoon.
With the actual act of fishing, it makes the environment seem more focused. There is an innocuous pleasure in the patience that accompanies fishing. Fishing limits everything to a singular goal that connects one to nature and seems to conjure up a beautiful simplicity. The matter of choosing the right tackle or bait creates a sort of puzzle in which the solution is always hidden in the water. There is an excitement that comes with the mystery in fishing; the mystery of never really being sure what one may catch. The feeling is almost intoxicating, which is why lots of people seem to be so enamored over fishing. The process compels those taking part to suspend a sense of urgency in favor of a more tranquil forbearance. It is almost impossible not to be optimistic when one starts fishing, everyone is taken in by the day dream that he or she is going to catch something unbelievable.
Then there is the game chance plays. Sometimes fishing may not take very long, and someone will get a hit after only a short wait; other times the wait may seem to last forever. In either case, though, the real enjoyment doesn’t lie in just catching a fish. Instead the real pleasure rests in the process, in getting to just be in nature. To feel at home outside. An occasional blue heron may fly close by on the lagoon, or an osprey may take a sharp dive into the water. An alligator may calmly swim by, leaving a small wake that serenely melts back into the totality of the lagoon.
When there is a hit, though, it can make one’s heart jump. The first exhilarating feeling is almost like a lighting strike; everything seems lighter as something on the end of the rod starts to tear out line, causing the drag to sing as the spool rapidly turns on the reel. When the fish actually forces the rod to bend, it seems somehow unreal; the experience is now more powerful as everything seems tied together, and the whole adventure has seemingly reached its purpose. Fighting a fish can be both exciting and exhausting; it heightens the sense of being in nature, by providing something that can not be felt in any other environment.
Then there is the excitement that comes with actually landing the fish. Where the puzzle is finally solved, and one can see the actual aesthetic beauty of the fish; there is something special in getting a glimpse of the kind of life that teams just under the surface of the lagoon.
Though, even if one does not land a fish, the experience is still worth it. The sense of wonder that comes with fishing on the lagoon, along with the time spent patiently waiting in nature, leaves one with an untroubled state of mind. The experience isn’t about losing oneself, but about actually feeling oneself be in the world, without all of the backbiting troubles that can plague life. The salubrious effect on the mind is what keeps the project of fishing alive, and when augmented by the beauty of the palmetto dunes lagoon system, there may be no better place to do it. --Contributed by Conor Fischer