Catch And Release

Well, here in Brisbane Saturday 2nd May was “release day”. Those in authority deemed that the spread of Covid-19 was sufficiently under control to partially ease restrictions and allow people to get out and about pending a few caveats. Great news though I must admit to questioning in my mind if maybe it was too early while simultaneously chomping at the bit to go out and see something other than my desk. So, I came to a compromise with myself and decided to go and ride somewhere a bit further afield than I have been recently but to make it a destination unlikely to be patronised by many others. And while doing so, I would also rekindle my interest in a pastime that I was quite heavily immersed in when I was much younger.

Fishing used to be my way of escaping everyday life and being able to just sit and reflect while immersing myself in some natural surroundings. That is until I had something of an ethical epiphany and decided that capturing animals for sport may not represent the highest levels of compassion and civility after all. And so my cache of fishing equipment lay dormant for several years until a short while ago when I decided to re-think the whole thing once again. See, many portions of human society have been sustained by seafood for a really long time though for most of that time I suspect that much greater emphasis than today was put on taking only what you need or doing at least something to ensure that fish stocks live to see another day. Unlike today, where the attitude is closer to taking as much as legally possible and beyond with consideration only of growth and profit.

But imagine if (hypothetically, of course ;)) commercial fishing was pared back to exist only as a cottage sized industry. Local fish stocks would thrive (probably with some extra help at first) and going fishing was not just recreation but also a legitimate way of putting food on the table unlike now where, because of depleted fish stocks and various other environmental pressures, going fishing at your local spot is simply too unreliable to be a continuous source of food. With well managed local fish stocks and marine environments relieved of the pressures of intensive commercial fishing, could those fish stocks be assigned a similar status to, say, a community garden? You volunteer time and/or pay some extra taxes to keep everything running smoothly and in exchange you get to enjoy a veritable natural larder of fresh seafood requiring you only to wander down to your local fishing spot to take what you need and enjoy your time doing it while you’re there. The environment benefits, we benefit and the fish enjoy the best possible natural, “free range” existence before we harvest them.

Would it really work like that? I don’t really know and all of this is really just to say that there’s probably more than one side of the question regarding the ethical decision of whether or not to go fishing. What I do know is that I greatly enjoy the solace, calm and connection to the natural surroundings whenever I have fished. I also know that I (and most others I know) keep only what I need and what is legal and that going fishing causes me to care all the more about preserving fish stocks and the environment which sustains them. Lastly, I also know that, like everyone else, I have my vices, weaknesses and imperfections.

Wow, that was an enormous digression just so I could circle back to tell you all that I went fishing with my bike. So, yeah, that’s what I did. Continuing my ongoing attempt to demonstrate the utility of bicycles, I decided that my Cannondale F4 mountain bike (which previously served as my shopping bike) should once again resume duty as an off-road machine and promptly swapped the slicks I was running on it back to proper knobby mountain bike tyres, loaded some very dusty fishing gear into the pannier bags and headed off along some of Brisbane’s finest bikeways to an undisclosed location to try my luck at fishing and soak up the afternoon winter sun amongst some fantastic natural surroundings.

On the night before, there was a bit of wrangling to be done with the fenders in order to get the comparatively bulbous off-road tyres to play nicely without rubbing but I was determined to keep the fenders and I have to say that the result is pleasing both aesthetically and functionally. The bike has plenty of room to store all my gear, I’m saved from wearing a big brown streak up my back if it rains and it has regained its off-road capabilities. Sure, I wouldn’t attempt to take on the really rough terrain with it for fear of the fenders and panniers catching on stuff but I view this rig as more of a very capable touring bike than a full on mountain bike now.

And with that I set off winding my way through the bikeways and, after a quick pitstop to buy bait, left the main thoroughfare to make my way up the required track that would eventually lead me to my fishing hole. Sorry about all all the secret squirrel stuff to do with the location I was at – if you really want to know where it is I think a little detective work would reveal it for you but in the meantime I’m gonna hold back on the big banner advertising.

My luck with the actual fishing part of this expedition could probably be rated as average but obtaining an actual feed of fish was only ever going to be a bonus. I caught a few smallish Bream all of which were released to see another day.

So I guess that completes the context of this little jaunt. Maybe it’s best to just let the photos tell the rest of the story now.

Green field next to bikeway

Bikeway sunset fishing trip

Bush track fishing trip mountain bike

Mountain bike fishing trip rear view

Fishing hole mountain bike stool

Bream caught and released
This little guy went straight back into the water after he/she posed for this photo.

Mountain bike fishing trip long grass

There you have it – another day, another bike, another way to live without a car (or at the very least, almost without a car). And if you’re one of the many people who have discovered riding bikes since the lockdown, a big welcome to you. Really and truly, I think it’s great that you’ve (re)discovered bicycles and I (and a great many others, I’m sure) would love for you to stay with it well past the lockdown and keep discovering how much of your life bikes can help to improve. Rest assured that the riding you’ve started is just the tip of the iceberg of good things to come if you choose to stick with it. So, please, keep riding, get creative about what you do with your bike(s) day to day (I hear that there’s a few good ideas here) and watch your horizon expand.

That’s it for now. Stay safe and see you out there sometime.

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