My conclusion to this inquiry is that the reasons why we fish are as varied and complex as each of our individual DNA is. And, an adjunct to my conclusion is that the reason(s) why each one of us fish, no matter what they are, will always be in a slow but constant state of evolution. I've personally been playing this game since before I was old enough to walk, and although some of the reasons I fish are still the same as when I was a kid, many are not, nor should they be.
Years ago the great Mel Kreiger produced a fly casting DVD in which he proposed the idea that unlike other sports that are mostly dependent on strength and athletic ability, fishing was different. It was different in that it doesn't rely solely on athletic attributes such as strength and speed that tend to decline in performance with age. Mel felt, as do I, that an angler can engage in angling at a VERY high level for most of, if not all of their life.
I enjoy watching anglers like Rick Clunn or Flip Pallot, who are both well into their seventies and are not only able to perform at a level very close to if not equal to how they were performing in the 40's but that also still display an infectious enthusiasm that seems to have only grown as they have gotten older. I think it would be an interesting series of case studies to interview some of these folks to see what their reasons for fishing are and how they've evolved (or not evolved) over the years.
For me personally, the reasons why I fish are very simple. Throughout the timeline of my life, the act of fishing is the one activity I can engage in that puts me physically, mentally and emotionally in a place where nothing else matters but the obligation to the act of angling itself. Beyond that, because of the lineage I have in this craft both personally and professionally I have a very VERY deep well of wonderful, very profound memories that provide me a place of sanctuary where I can go when life gets too harsh. And much of the time the memories don't involve fish. More importantly, they involve valuable relationships that often include good friends and close family members. They include shared experiences of new places both near home and far away. They include memorable meals, stellar sunrises, roaring campfires, and raised glasses in honor of the sport that creates the experiences that for whatever blend of reasons we have all fallen in love with.
That's why I fish.
Hope you all have a great week, stay healthy and safe out there.