Societal Benefits of Fishing on the Green River

Boedicea P. Fox

I have fished only once in my life—it was not a good experience. There was a fishing pond in the English village where I grew up, which was a popular play spot with local kids. One day, a group of us contrived to catch a fish using a stick and a piece of discarded line. In a moment of stunning luck, we managed to catch a fish, and then proceeded to mutilate the poor thing, in a “Lord of the Flies” type frenzy.

Needless to say, I have since never understood the lure of fishing. Despite my general aversion to fishing, the pastime remains wildly popular amongst the general public, and the Green River draws huge crowds of fishing folk. In an attempt to understand the popularity of the sport, I interviewed all the people on the trip who participated in fishing. I asked the following questions:

  1. How long have you been fishing?

  2. How did you learn to fish?

  3. How often do you fish?

  4. Why do you like fishing?

  5. How does fishing on the Green River compare to other rivers you have fished?

Some common themes emerged. Many people had been fishing for as long as they could remember, and almost all learned from their fathers. This made me muse on the possible benefits of fishing to society by promoting strong paternal relationships. In addition, many respondents credited fishing with providing a contemplative nature experience, and enabling quality time with friends and family. More benefits—providing individuals with stress relief and nature connection, while strengthening feelings of community.

Several people declared fishing to be “exciting” or “mysterious” in a similar fashion to gambling, indicating that fishing may provide an important stimulus to some. One person appreciated fishing because the sport contributes a large portion of funding for fish conservation; funding which may be essential considering many native fish populations are dropping at an alarming rate.

Common themes also emerged when comparing the Green River to other fishing spots. Almost everybody remarked that the stretch immediately below the dam, often referred to as “the aquarium,” had the highest density of both fish and people of any river they had fished. For many this ruined the contemplative nature experience they usually enjoyed, while others marveled at the fact that, despite the large numbers of people, everybody could catch a fish.

Overall, interviewing the fisherpeople in our research group helped me appreciate the popularity of fishing and its benefits to society. I would further surmise that, while the Green River may not be a top fishing experience for some, it does enable a wide variety and large number of people to participate.