There are a few reasons why I quit fishing, but the main reason is pictured above.
My favorite time of the day to go out fishing was always the last three hours of the day. Sunsets seem to last longer. Now I still go out for the last three hours of the day, but with a camera rather than a rod.
I didn’t fish much and never a river before I turned 40. After that, fishing the Fox River and the creeks that feed it became an obsession. For 19 years that’s all I really cared about doing.
It was all about the fishing and even though I was out on the water during hundreds of sunsets, there were fish to be caught. If I stopped for a second I might get off a half way decent shot of the sunset, but I had to get back to fishing. I was losing my light.
19 years later and 10,000 smallies caught, give or take a couple of hundred, enough was enough. This would have been my 20th year, but I didn’t see any point and going out to catch one more fish.
Now I go out at those same hours of the day and pace back and forth in one of many areas where I know the sunset could be spectacular. It doesn’t always happen, but the anticipation is worth it. I get to watch the light slowly wane and change and glow and reflect off my surroundings. Something I never did when catching a fish was the point of being out there.
To me, being in the right spot to photograph the sunset pictured above, along with the 70 or so other photo’s taken that evening, was much more important than being on the other side of the river, behind the island, drifting lures in the fast and slow running water. All to catch smallie number 10,000 and one.
Standing and pacing and watching the play of light is much more rewarding.
Over those 19 years I’ve also cruised many, many miles on back roads all along the river and to it’s creeks.
It was rare that I ever stopped very long, maybe long enough to get off a quick shot. I had a fishing spot to get to, fish to be caught.
Now, I cruise those same back roads during those same last 3 hours of daylight. Only now I don’t hesitate in stopping if something catches my eye.
Now I go out looking for the perfect sunset clouds.
Or I’ll head out if it looks like a good storm will be passing through.
I think it’s time better spent than chasing still another fish and letting my surroundings go ignored.
I have no clue if my photo’s are all that great. I don’t know if I care one way or the other. But like fishing once was, I now can’t imagine being out there and not trying to capture something.
For those that have followed along with all that I’ve written over the years, why I quit fishing probably seemed inevitable. My writing and the photo’s that went with them never really had anything to do with fishing. At least I tried to give that impression, but in my head I had to be there for the fish. Now I want to focus on the photo’s and all those spots I walked and drove right by.
If anything comes of that, that would be nice. If not, that would still be nice.
In an effort to take this new direction seriously, I’ve already started a Facebook page for Ken Gortowski Photography where photo’s have been going up.
I also have a website up and running called kengortowski.com that is still under construction as I figure out the design and then populate it with all the photo’s I’ve taken over the years.
I’m looking forward to how this all pans out.
In the mean time, in my spare time, I’ll still be out wandering around those last few hours and minutes of daylight. Revisiting back roads I breezed down in the past, heading out to the river and creeks and concentrating on the details I passed up over the years.
And, just like when I used to fish, I’ll stay out to the very end, for that last little bit of light, for the perfect conditions.
And, just like fishing, you have to stay to the very end.
The very end tends to produce the best results.