Fairfax County, Virginia


Dan Grulke,
FCPA Fishing Coordinator

More Than Just Fishing

By Dan Grulke

More than fishingIn its simplest form, fishing is casting a line with a lure or bait into the water in hopes of catching a fish. If that were all that was involved in this sport or hobby, few would continue to participate in it. So the real question is, “Why do people go fishing?”

There are many reasons why people fish, but most say fishing helps them become better people. Sounds far-fetched that a sport or hobby as simple as fishing can help people better themselves, so let us dive in depth and see how this can happen.

Fishing is mostly a solitary adventure. One person, in nature, just enjoying the outdoors. At first glance we only see the benefits of an outdoor experience that would reduce stress. However by being on our own, we realize that we must be self-reliant. We must use our creativity to figure out what the fish are feeding on, and we must interpret this information by selecting baits and lures, then put the theory into practice. If we do not catch a fish, we might experience frustration. So we would switch lures and try another spot or technique. Through this process of trying to catch a fish, we have challenged ourselves to think independently, problem-solve, maybe experience frustration, and, if we have not given up, experience success by catching a fish.

This entire process of learning how to succeed is simply disguised as fishing. The process prepares us for the next life challenge, whether its going to school, applying for a job, trying out for a sport or other life challenges.

Because fishing is mostly a solitary sport/hobby, we also learn how to set our own goals and what constitutes success. These are key aspects of building self-esteem. There is no outside pressure to tell us that success is a 5-pound bass or 30 fish caught. We ourselves get to determine what our success is and what our failures are. Maybe it is casting further than we have, or maybe it is not losing a lure or breaking a fishing rod.

By being our own judge and determining our own goals, we give ourselves a firm foundation of what our future success and failures are. We begin to develop an understanding of ourselves, learn our limits, learn our strengths and our weaknesses, and choose to figure out ways to better ourselves. We can make our experience as simple or as complicated as we choose. For many of us, including kids and parents, this may be the only part of our day or week where we get to be our own boss.

Dan Grulke is the Fishing Coordinator for the Fairfax County Park Authority. He has lived in Northern Virginia for all but five years of his life. He has been fishing locally, in other states, and in other countries for 40 years. He has previously been a freshwater fishing guide on the Susquehanna River and Upper Potomac Rivers for eight years. Although he currently is not a guide, he enjoys introducing others to the sport of fishing. You can contact Dan at

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