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This year, I suggest you go fishing

Philadelphia Watershed Steward 2018 Kyzeem Cook, with fish. (Channel Catfish, Ictalurus punctatus). On the Schuylkill River at Bartram's Garden dock, spring 2018.

At LandHealth Institute, our mission is to restore connections between nature and people.

You are already connected with nature in so many ways. You breath air full of oxygen exhaled by plants, drink water that has cycled through the rivers and the oceans countless times, and eat food that is part of the planet’s many cycles of nutrient transmission. So, we want you to know about this connection.

You might also connect with nature civically, through advocacy for open space preservation, wildlife protection, rehabilitation of neglected urban land, or working to protect the quality of our air and water. So, we want you to actively engage in this connection.

However, you can also connect with nature another way- nature can be fun. Go ahead, have fun outside. Garden. Ride a bike. Take a hike in the Wissahickon . Paddle on the Schuylkill. Go birdwatching with BirdPhilly or at The Discovery Center. Spending time outside is good for you. It is good for your mind, and it’s good for your body. You can forget your troubles and move your muscles. You’ll see and hear and feel more.

One great way to do this, that I personally recommend you do this year, is to go fishing. If you haven't fished since you were a kid, pick it up again. If you've never fished before, learn how. If you know an angler, go fishing together, or teach someone to fish, or try fishing alone and learn how to do it from the internet.

LHI staffer Jackson Quitel, with Walleye (Sander vitreus)

Why? What’s the use of fishing?

Well, it’s a nice way to spend the day, is all.

I don’t suggest you go fishing because it’s going to make you better at work, or because you’ll lose weight or learn something profound. In fact, you might get skunked. Like the old joke goes, that’s why they call it fishing, not catching.

Point is, you go fishing, you’re not going to be doing anything else. Except maybe listening to the radio or watching the river or sitting in the sun. Me, I’d probably be sipping on some coffee. Just waiting for the end of my rod to quiver because a channy cat took the bait and is now on the circle hook at the end of my rig, or maybe peering at the bobber hoping a sunny is nibbling that worm. You can bet if I manage to pull a fish in, which I will photograph and quickly release, that I’ll be smiling ear to ear. You can bet if one breaks the line or slips the hook I won’t. And you know that at the end of the day I’ll feel a whole lot better than I did at the start.

You can too. A fishing license in PA is less than thirty dollars, and basic gear costs that little or even less. There’s plenty of instructions online if you don’t know what you’re doing. I suggest you give it a try. It’ll be fun.

Oh, and one more thing. If you do go fishing, or do anything else fun outside, you’re going to feel closer to the rest of the world. You’ll feel closer to the water, the air, the wildlife. You encounter a lot more than you would at home or inside. Maybe that’ll lead to something. I suspect it will.

But for now, I suggest you go fishing.

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