What Do You Hope to Achieve?

In last month's editorial I gave my personal answer to Jay Watkin's question, "What is it about fishing that you love most?" If you read it, even though I love and have pursued the art and lore of angling some fifty years, there was no mention of limit or trophy catches. Make no mistake size still matters in my book, but at this stage of my career these no longer fuel my passion as they once did. The opportunity to simply be out there and immerse myself in the beauty and serenity of it all tops my current list. Right behind that is a teeming fishery though I cannot tell you the last time I kept a limit of anything. Grinding it out and finally tricking a few to take my lure on a tough day is sometimes more fulfilling than reeling in three dozen.

So I want to pose another question. "What do you hope to achieve in your fishing experience?"

Obviously, not all anglers have the same expectation and this only natural. In fact, if you go back a few years my own was totally different. Depending where I fished, mine ranged from a limit (quicker is better or so I thought) to the pursuit of a wallhanger. I wore out a bunch of fillet knives and I had a big trout skin-mounted back in the 90s. The memory of the fish suppers is long gone but I still admire that gaping yellow mouth and long thick body of that incredible fish. Since then I have been lucky to release many bigger and will likely never take another to the taxidermist. And I also went through a tournament phase.

What lights my wick these days is teaching and sharing fishing knowledge with anyone eager to learn. The things that I so enjoy seeing on the water are displays of sportsmanship: another boat idles toward my spot, stopping to watch the catching from a polite distance, a knowing wave and then moving on down the shoreline.

Seeing a young family or husband and wife hitting the water for a fun day. Two old codgers that have fished together for years going through their smooth drill of launching a boat. A bunch of volunteers showing up in inclement weather to clean a beach or pick up abandoned crab traps.

This journey that begins with the excitement of learning to catch a few progresses through needing to catch them all to prove our mettle and eventually takes us even farther. Fishing leads to a host of activities that are beneficial to the resource and also good for the soul. Joining a conservation organization and taking an active role, volunteering for a kid-fish event, introducing newbies young and not-so-young to this incredible pastime are all worthwhile and can deliver satisfaction greater than that first limit of keepers.

So where are you in your journey of fishing expectation? Have you begun to give back to others and the resource as much as fishing has given to you?
Wherever you are, always remember to enjoy and cherish the experience, be a good sportsman, and lead by example.