George and Sammy are fishing. Sammy tells George that a lot of men go fishing to escape. After a pause George sees a fish and says that unfortunately a lot of fish escape men who go fishing.
Sammy has a lot of inner turmoil. Being a man in the 1980s, it has taken him a long time to come to terms with his depression. He has turned to George for help but finds it extremely difficult to put into words what he is feeling at this time. During a long silence on a fishing trip he has insinuated his pain to his best friend in the hope that he will pick up on Sammy's feelings.
Sammy tells George that men go fishing to escape. What exactly is Sammy trying to escape from? We know he has been drinking a lot recently. Is he stuck in a loveless marriage with a woman who cares more about matching her earrings to her top than her husband's unhappiness? All Sammy is hoping for is for George to ask him what he is escaping from, then it will unlock the door to his emotions.
George doesn't read this at all and makes a joke. At this moment Sammy knows that no one will really ever understand his pain. Just look at the way his head is slightly lowered when George makes his quip. He longs to be a fish, with no worries. He thought his best friend was George, but now he knows, all too solemnly, that his best friend is in fact the bottle.