Thinking back on this past year and how quickly it has passed, I remembered a quote I read somewhere years ago. Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back. How true those words are.
This is the time of year so many of us will look back to the things we are thankful for. As I come into my seventeenth year of guiding I feel very blessed and thankful to have gotten to know so many wonderful people through fishing; people I likely would have never had the opportunity to meet otherwise. In talking with most of the individuals I meet, it is a common agreement that fishing is therapy and any time spent fishing is in no way wasted, no matter the outcome.
With the past years flying by so quickly, I often wonder how most anglers want to spend their time on the water. I am certain for the majority of people, catching lots of fish without too much effort is the way most would prefer it. You know, catching is where all the fun is at, right? Well maybe for most.
But then there are the type of anglers who read as much material as they can, watch all the TV fishing shows, and hit up social media sites hoping to soak in as much info as possible and then apply it on their next fishing trip. Some of these anglers will “overthink” the whys and hows of fishing and never really get a grasp on it, and then there are those that just seem to get it naturally.
I have fished with thousands of anglers over the years and the ones that really excel in angling abilities are quite often the inquisitive. I don’t mean the anglers that ask a hundred questions, or the same ones over and over. I am talking about the type of angler that asks a few questions, takes advice and applies it, but also learns to study an area to find out why fish would prefer to hold up in any one particular spot. This is type of angler who will look around to see if they can spot active bait and, if so, instead of ignoring it, will wade towards it and begin casting. It’s possible that one jumping mullet was being harassed by a 30-inch trout. The only way to know is to go, right?
A good angler also chooses to find fish on his own rather than relying on others to tell him where to go. A good angler also chooses to learn the underwater terrain through wading and feeling with his feet rather than staying in the boat. A GPS is a good tool to help find deeper holes but when it comes to shallow water fishing, wading is really the only way to figure out the bottom composition and contour. Learning which shorelines have the most defined guts, which reefs have a rapid drop-off or a gradual taper, or which lakes might have scattered shell or a deeper pocket, are essential bits of information when it comes to choosing any area to fish.
A good angler doesn’t carry a suitcase of twenty different colors, smelly jellies or the latest and best gimmick lure advertised in a TV commercial while wading. Instead, he chooses a few lures, paddletails, rattails, a spoon, and maybe a topwater or two. When he flips the lid of his small wading box you won’t be dazzled by a rainbow of neon shining from a dozen types of lures. The time spent tying that many knots alone could have been better spent fishing the one he already has tied on…and he knows it.
A good angler will take his time to fish all the water around him thoroughly and quietly. He’s not in a race and he doesn’t tromp noisily through the water. A good angler will search everything from ankle deep to waist deep water in attempt to locate the best bite. And, most importantly, a good angler is patient and methodical. Sometimes working through any given area twice, even though he may have only caught a few fish, but knows the potential is there.
A good angler will make mistakes, too. But that’s okay. I hope that you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes it means you are trying new things, learning, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing things that will hopefully help you become a better angler.Happy New Year everyone!