The Perfect Sport

The Perfect Sport

It has taken way too many years for me to recognize a couple of important things in regard to my chosen profession. One is that I cannot control the weather. However, if I ever learn how, my rates will increase exponentially. The other thing I have learned is that I have no control over the abilities of the people who step onto my skiff for a day of fishing. One might say though, if I was to somehow learn to impose my will upon the weather, I could no doubt also learn to create the perfect sport to stand on the bow of my skiff.

Now, we all know that the dreams and aspirations mentioned above will never come true unless the Good Lord decides he needs a little help. And, I can assure, if he ever did, there are much better people out there to fill that billet than yours truly. But, let's just say that the Man Upstairs was taking orders. Well first off, she would be gorgeous! I bet some of you laughed. But seriously, all kidding aside, what if?

If I could in fact order up the perfect sport, the first and most important thing I would ask for is someone who truly loves angling and all that goes with it. I see way too many anglers, more so on other guide's boats than mine, who do it for the glory of saying look at what I just killed. It is not about the challenge of taking one of God's creatures or even the beauty of the surroundings. For them, it is about drinking beer and killing things. Fortunately for me, I rarely have to deal with this kind of person.

Next on my list of wants would be a person that is serious about angling. By serious I mean; fishing is a way of life not just a pastime. Now I know this is difficult for a lot of people because many have to work to support their adventures to the coast, but I do, in fact, have a couple of sports who despite having real jobs, live, eat, and breathe fishing night and day. And, their dedication is reflected in their ability and competence while standing on the bow of my skiff.

And, while I know this one is actually implied in the above, I still think it is an important, stand all by itself, aspect of the perfect sport. Anglers should take the time to practice with their equipment and become proficient. Very few things are as disheartening for a skiff guide than to witness anglers blowing shot after shot at easily obtainable, aggressively feeding fish.

How about anglers who show up at the dock with all of their equipment rigged and well-maintained? Yep, pretty sure that one would be on the list of optional attributes too. Over the years, I have spent way too much time rigging gears while watching redfish tailing away and have seen way too many fish lost because of poorly maintained reels freezing up when a hard-running fish takes off.

Here is another quality that I would really like to see as an option on my order form: willing to go in less than perfect conditions. Like I mentioned above, it is highly unlikely that I will ever learn how to control the weather and, despite all the training the TV weather people receive, they can hardly forecast the weather accurately. In short, the weather is rarely perfect and it requires anglers to be diverse. Believe me when I say, I do not like it any more than the next guy when the wind blows and the clouds roll in, but some days you just do not know what is going to happen and you just have to go for it. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat at the dock after cancelling a trip only to curse the weatherman for being so crappy at his job.

So, what if you are out on the water and conditions are less than perfect for throwing a fly to tailing fish? Well the sport I would order up would break out the spinning rod or the baitcaster and start grinding. There is no shame in catching a fish on a plug, jig, or even bait. Some of the best anglers in the world, who incidentally prefer fly fishing, routinely leave the fly rod in the rack and pick up either a spinning or casting rig. I often wonder what makes other anglers, with less skill and ability, so special in their own mind that it is beneath them to do so.

Moving down the order form, I would be checking boxes such as "sees fish well," "has good sea-legs," "pays cash tips big," and last but not least "never cancels." I know I am reaching with these last few but, what the heck, it is of course only a dream sheet.

Now, in the spirit of the season to all my family, friends, customers, and to all of you who take the time to read and consider the words I put in these pages every month, I am grateful for you all and hope that you all have the greatest of Thanksgivings with your loved ones.

Be good and stuff like that!