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Sunrises and sunsets are part of the reason we go.

Smartphones. Nearly everyone has one. They make life easier and more productive on a day-to-day basis. There is virtually a whole world of information right there in the palm of your hand. For someone my age it really is amazing to think from where we've come in such a short period of time. I vividly recall scrolling through the Weather Channel before leaving to go fishing, praying they were right this time.

Nowadays I have a half-dozen apps and sites on my phone that tell me everything from wind direction at various points around the bay to an HD radar showing me how much time I have before an approaching thunderstorm or front reaches my exact location. I can look at the tide stations to see the predicted flows as well as retrieve up-to-the minute data on what the water level actually is compared to that prediction. I know right to the minute when the moon will rise, set and be directly overhead or underfoot.

As cool as all that is, there is also a huge downside. We are glued to these damn things. You see it every day. People walking with their eyes on the screen ignoring everything and everyone around them. Drivers going down the road texting despite all of the warnings against it. You see it in restaurants as two people having dinner stare at their phones, mindlessly shoveling food into their mouths, while ignoring each other. Unfortunately, I don't think any of this will be changing for the better. We are addicted to information and staying in touch.

Increasingly I'm seeing this same thing on my charters. And that's a real shame. Just this week while prowling the marshes of southern Louisiana chasing bull reds on the fly, I had one that left me shaking my head. It was a beautiful winter day. Sunshine, warm temps, clear water and feeding fish.

This poor fella had the addiction bad. His phone was dinging, buzzing and ringing every couple minutes and he was helpless to ignore it. He missed so much, answering calls and typing responses.

Every fish I spotted, and there were many, initiated the same frantic drill to remove his readers, replace his sunglasses, stow the phone, and retrieve the fly rod from between his knees. By that point the cruising bull had moved off or spooked in a puff of mud. He'd stare for a few moments and maybe make a cast or two before returning to the phone. We hardly even spoke during the charter, apart from me interrupting to point out a fish.

I get it. I run my guide business, work as a sales rep and usually have some construction projects going. People want and need to talk to me, but there's a time and a place. My phone is limited to emergency use or possibly talking to another guide I know is fishing nearby to discuss the fishing situation. And of course, I'll use it to check the weather or tide and take photos of my clients' catch. I'm not a caveman.

Calls from future customers or work-related stuff goes to voicemail, that's what it's for. They can wait until I'm off the water.

Same for emails. I figure the guy on my bow paid for my services and shouldn't have to share his time on the water. Surprisingly, I've heard stories from customers about guides who have spent nearly the entire day chatting on the phone. I would not be a happy customer if I was in that position.

Even this guy didn't irritate me. It's their day and they can spend it however they choose. But what a shame, he missed so much. Beyond the obvious missed shots at willing redfish, he missed the experience. Other than soaking up some sunshine, he may as well have been in the office.

There were reds and huge black drum intermittently tailing throughout the day. They'd briefly tip up and expose themselves before going back to cruising. I love seeing that. He missed it.

There was a small school that briefly appeared, pinned some finger mullet against an exposed oyster reef and destroyed them. He missed it. And the 30-plus pound drum in a tailed-up standoff with a crab. He missed that, too.

And there were other cool things going on. Pelicans diving into bait, skimmers plucking minnows from the surface, a reddish egret doing the wings-out dance through the shallows trying to corner his prey and many other birds just being birds. I know not everybody gets into that, but I enjoy it.

On that trip I also witnessed a family of otters bail off the shoreline as we rounded a corner. He heard the splash. Those otters then proceeded to poke their heads up every few minutes to check us out. They were cool, but always timed their appearance to coincide with his inattention.

I love being out there. It's a big part of why I do what I do. It isn't all about a search and destroy mission to snatch as many fish as possible. For me it is about melting into the marsh and taking it all in. I want to watch the dolphins, see the birds feeding, catch a glimpse of the critters that live there, and watch the sun rise or set. Yeah, I'm that guy. Maybe I'm just trying to balance out all those years I had to work on the streets of Houston dealing with humanity at its worst.

If the fishing is the more important part for you that's fine too. Put the phone away and enjoy it. Pay attention to what's happening. You can't possibly be effective at catching fish without seeing the subtle clues that lead you to them. Baitfish reacting to a predator, a shorebird trailing a prowling redfish or even their shallow wakes. Immersing yourself into the rhythm of the bay can only help you become a better predator. Disconnect. Try it.

At the end of the day this fella hands me the daily fee along with a healthy tip and a firm handshake; saying, "That was awesome. It felt good to be out of the office."