The International Language of Fishing

There is just too much going on in the world right now to comment. It’s been a tough few weeks for everyone.

But what I try to remember is that a tough few weeks for us can be a lifetime for others. Keep in perspective that civil unrest is a way of life for some people, their whole lives drowning in constant turmoil and chaos. That’s why they seek asylum. It’s why they walk hundreds or thousands of miles with starving children on their backs. They desperately seek change. The Americans protesting seek change too. We’re all one in the same, we all want something more. Listen, be patient, and try to learn.

That’s why I love fishing so much. It teaches you something new every time you get out there. That paragraph above took me a week of fishing to get to. But that wasn’t all. I learned something else too; Fishing is an international language.

It’s not just about other cultures either. It goes beyond that. Communication is possible with little babies and dogs and everyone with fishing. But in particular my experience recently along the Charlotte Pier in Rochester, New York was with a man who spoke no English and, as I learned, was from Nepal.

Lake Ontario waters looking quite like the Atlantic Ocean.

He was a short middle aged man holding his phone out and taking pictures along the pier. I didn’t notice him right away. He wasn’t dressed out of the ordinary in any way. But I suddenly realized he was coming to look into our fish bucket. My son and I had been there less than an hour but already hooked into a couple good sized perch. Our bucket had the perch in it along with a few fat head minnows that someone gave to us on his way home. Fishing is a community like that.

The man from Nepal stopped and looked in our bucket. My son, who is six, was all smiles, as he had caught the biggest one and loved showing it off to onlookers. I asked the man how he was doing, a common and mindless way of greeting someone. He nodded his head and pointed at the perch. “Matza”, he said continuing to point. I said “Oh yeah?” because I wasn’t sure what was happening yet. He became a little more emphatic “Matza, matza”.

I said “Perch.” and he shook his head yes. “Nepali”, he said smiling. “Matza”. I suddenly understood.

“You’re from Nepal?” I asked.

“Yes. Matza”, he said and he brought his hand up to his mouth like he was eating.

“Oh absolutely”, I said and I pointed to my son and then back to me and made the same eating motion. He seemed content and patted his stomach and I did the same. We both liked to fish for and eat perch and without the convenience of a common language we figured that out in just a few short minutes. He held up his phone as if to take a picture, and made a noise like a questions mark. I said “Go ahead” and he took some photos. I turned back to the water and my rod, jigging my bait while he took a few photos.

He started to walk away and patted my shoulder. He said thank you in Nepali and I told him to take care. He headed on down to the end of the pier and after a few minutes I turned and watched him and actually thought to myself “that guy is my friend”.

In everything that’s happening in the world there’s always moments like this. Seemingly insignificant moments that should be forgotten, but they’re not. They’re important. For some reason we can speak the same language in fishing and where you’re from or how you grew up doesn’t matter. Fishing is more than the fish. It’s about the story.

(A simple google search shows that the man was more than likely saying macha, with a small line over each ‘a’. When he said it to me on the pier it sounded most like matza.)

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