I looked up the term obsessive-compulsive disorder the other day because my friends have hinted strongly that there’s something wrong with me. They say I’m always going fishing, talking about going fishing, planning to go fishing or describing my latest exploits for their benefit. At first, I disagreed with them but after looking it up there’s not much doubt that I am stricken with this particular malady.

The medical dictionary describes an obsessive-compulsive affliction in this manner: A mental disorder typically characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce apprehension, fear, worry and repetitive behaviors such as hand-washing, teeth-brushing, reel-casting and boat-toting. The symptoms also include a psychotic and uncontrollable urge to continue doing these things regardless of the consequences.

Yep, that’s what I’ve got. If I can’t go fishing within a certain time, those very symptoms start to kick up. Upon further study on the matter, the potential cures include electroshock treatment, drug therapy and psychotherapy, but none of these have been proven effective in extreme cases such as mine. I’m not too fired up about trying them out anyway. I don’t want to join the boys over at the Cuckoo’s Nest just yet. Maybe if I just discuss it in public my condition will improve.

Take boat-toting for example. This is certainly one of those repetitive behaviors discussed in the medical literature. It began long ago for me so I know this disease has been with me for many years. I and similarly afflicted partners would carry our 14-foot boat to any and every inaccessible location to go fishing. No task was too difficult.

We would gladly carry our fully laden boat around and over fences or locked gates. We would tote it a mile down a dirt road, through the woods where there was no path or across beaver swamps. We were kind of like the Pony Express or the U.S. mail. Neither rain nor snow nor dark of night would stop us from our appointed rounds.

Now that I know what’s wrong with me, I’m trying to figure out some of the origins of the problem. Here are some possibilities. 

There were ponds we wanted to fish in because they were posted with no trespassing signs. The allure of doing something dangerous appealed to us. There were places we wanted to fish because of their legendary status. These ponds were renowned for the numbers of big bass that could be caught from them and we yearned for the opportunity to verify that status. There were remote ponds and we were always willing to take up the challenge. Additionally, there were secluded stretches of rivers and creeks that were suspected to hold vast quantities of wild and uncaught fish. No matter the task we would willingly tote our boat and equipment to those spots to meet the demands of our obsessive disorder.

Later on in stage two of my sickness, I had a vehicle designated for fishing use. Unfortunately, it was not a truck but rather a sedan with an extra-large trunk. With some experimentation, I found that my boat would slide into that spacious area if angled properly. Even though the boat was sticking out of the trunk at a ridiculous angle and even though the locking mechanism for the trunk was broken as a result, I could now venture farther afield to fish.

My boat toting car finally caused some trouble. A state patrolman stopped me one day to chastise me about my loading technique. His first question was, “Are you drunk?”  

I told him certainly not and as proof, I showed him that I had even thought to put a handkerchief on the end of the boat to warn those behind me. He was unimpressed with my foresight and sent me scurrying homeward with a ticket for having an unsecured load.

Boat-toting is just one of the many manifestations of my obsessive-compulsive behavior. Others include unreasonable urges to buy fishing stuff I can’t afford and go on trips that will preclude me from making my house payment in a timely fashion. There’s also the problem of extreme anxiety attacks over whether I will be able to go fishing the next day or availability of certain lures.

As I reflect and think back on these events it is clear that my problems are deeply rooted and cannot be easily solved. One thing is certain: I have an illness of the most extreme variety. Calling me obsessive-compulsive about fishing is akin to likening Secretariat with a plow mule. The comparison just won’t hold up.

The heck with worrying about it. I think I’ll just go get an electro-shock treatment and head to the lake. 


Email your outdoor obsessions to dar8589@bellsouth.net.

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