"Soon after I embraced the sport of angling I became convinced that I should never be able to enjoy it if I had to rely on the cooperation of the fish." This is actually an old fishing quote, but if you substitute the words "angling" for "surfing" and "fish" for "waves", the quote rings just as true.
If you can't learn to enjoy a day of fishing with no fish caught, or a day of surfing less than ideal conditions, you will be disappointed much too often.
Here in Oregon, with fickle waves and even more fickle steelhead, this is one of the most important things a waterman can learn. But on the right days, the rewards are so much sweeter because of the waiting. The heart pumping feeling from hooking a fish or catching a nice, clean wave is similar, and it's why people become interested in the first place.
The similarities between these two pursuits run much deeper than that, though. They are both activities that, although considered "sports", are done for reasons that often aren't competitive at all.
At the core, both are about a connection to nature, to yourself, and to the friends you meet out on the water. But, just as each is about a connection, they are also about temporary escape from worries and responsibilities. There are no conscious thoughts when riding a wave, nor in fighting a fish.
They are lifestyles that can easily become obsessions, rather than just something to do for fun. Life decisions can be made based on proximity to rivers or the coast, career choices are often based on a job's flexible schedule, and relationships can be made or broken based on one's passion for the water.
Furthermore, both require at least a working understanding of the laws of physics, and advanced knowledge of technique, weather systems, equipment, ecology, and biology.
Surfers and fisherman both tend to know a lot more about the food chain than most people. Fisherman try to find where fish are and hope to fool them into eating colorful feathers and thread. And surfers…well, let's just say they respect their place in the food chain out there. The last thing they want to do is trick a big fish into biting.
Both tend to be passionate about conservation. Without clean water or open spaces, neither activity would be healthy. In some cases, they wouldn't even be possible.
Even travel plans for surfers and fisherman are dictated by their lifestyles. They fly across the world to go to a wild river or to a specific bend in the coast that creates a perfect wave.
I've been a surfer for quite a while and have recently been bitten by the fly fishing bug. I think it will be an easy task to mix the two lifestyles. If the ocean is flat, I may as well try to find some fish willing to bite. Either way, I'll get the benefit of more time spent outside and less time spent behind a computer screen, and that active time outdoors is really what they are both all about for me.