Saturday, April 05, 2008

The psychology of fishing

A couple of posts ago I wrote about what I see as the connection between photography and fishing. My sister commented with a question: Doesn't fishing require more patience?

In fact, the way I practice both pursuits might look like patience to someone who didn't know any better. If you watched me stalking a butterfly or a snake trying to get the perfect pose you could be forgiven for thinking me patient. But the dark truth is that I am no more patient than the gambling addict who sits in front of a slot machine all night hoping for a payout.

Back when my wife was in college she learned in her psych coure that the behavioral reinforcement of fishing is very similar to that of gambling and that fishermen often make compulsive gamblers. I've never tried gambling, but I don't doubt that this is true.

Let me explain it like this. It's very difficult for me to quit fishing once I start. If I'm catching 'em, I can't stop till I've caught just one more. If I'm not catching 'em I can't stop till I catch something. It's not patience, it's compulsion. Fortunately the addictions of trying to capture a fish or a photograph are relatively harmless (except to the fish of course). And I make sure not to go anywhere near the casino or the racetrack.

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