Strange How We Change

Evolve may be a better descriptive term for the point I will try to make here but, since it is still quite new to me, it feels strange.

It wasn’t so long ago I measured the satisfaction I gained from fishing in the number of fish I could catch.  As my knowledge and experience grew it seems I was ever-more keen to prove my mettle.  Predicting where they’d be in various seasons and conditions, and then catching them, fueled an almost insatiable passion.  Not that I had to always bring in a limit; the chrome had long before flaked off that aspect of it.  To finally arrive at being one of those guys that could get it done when others struggled was my greatest ambition.  Competitive to a fault, even though I turned ‘em loose; you can bet I sometimes rubbed it in, if not a bit too much.

The intensity of my quest for knowledge and catching zeal in earlier years likely sprang from good-old-days stories.  Tales of incredible bounty before this and that, from anglers I admired for their skills as well as maybe being a tad jealous of their experiences, these probably had more influence than I recognized at the time.

I’m not sure when it began, probably before I realized, though slowly I began to notice a difference.  Somehow the watching, helping and teaching others was becoming more gratifying than the act of actually doing it.  A few casts for proof, a couple nice ones for dinner, and then delighting in seeing my companions reeling them in—perhaps akin to counting coup in battle rather than slaying a worthy opponent.

So what does this mean and where am I headed?  

One thing I know for certain is that I now rarely have a bad day on the water.  I will admit that it draws some puzzled looks—explaining how entertaining it can be watching redfish bust shrimp out of flooded cordgrass rather than figuring a way to catch them.  But it’s true.  I honestly believe it’s as much fun to watch them “go all deer in the headlights” when I’ve sneaked within feet of their feeding.

Another thing that’s pretty cool is learning to identify species I formerly labeled collectively as shorebirds.  Funny how binoculars can have uses beyond searching for schools of bait and fish activity.  Thank you, Billy Sandifer.  

Maybe I’m just finally slowing down but I’m definitely having a lot of fun.  Sunrises and sunsets are more spectacular.  The towering clouds of an approaching norther are more awe inspiring than simply taking advantage of the gorging attitude of the fish right before it hits.

I believe I’m a better fisherman today than ever in my career, and though I may not fish as hard in the classic sense, I enjoy it even more.  Turning sixty-one this month may not be as scary as I once thought.

Merry Christmas, God Bless, and great fishing to all!