Believe or not, fishing replicates life. Just as we learn more about life as we live it, when we fish we not only learn lessons about catching fish, but we can apply those lessons to our non-fishing lives.
So, in no particular order, here are some life lessons from the creel:
Be prepared. Before you embark on your fishing adventure, have the correct rod, reel, lures and fishing line in working condition. You aren’t going to fly fish for brook trout with a rusty, salt-encrusted surf rod. If you aren’t prepared, it is your own time you waste. One time in Minnesota, I lost my last lure that was bringing in the smallmouth bass, therefore I had to jealously watch my buddy bring in one bass after another with the correct lure. I hadn’t bought enough lures before the trip. Think of times in your life when you weren’t prepared and missed an opportunity.
Every day is a surprise and you never know what is going to happen. When embarking on a fishing trip we know what we are angling for — whether it is trout in our mountain streams, bass in Boone Lake, or saltwater species off the Carolina coast. Then you toss in your line, discharging your lure into the unseen depths. You may reel in the desired specie or perhaps nothing. Every now and then you hook a whopper, maybe or maybe not landing him.
But that is what makes life so exciting — you never know what is going to happen — good or bad. When fishing or anything else you’ve got to roll with the punches, adjust to unforeseen situations, then handle them with aplomb.
Patience and persistence pays off. When casting for fish even the best angler is going to come up empty more casts than not. Yet, a successful angler continues casting away, believing the next throw will be the one to hook a fish. Eventually, repeated casting results in a fish on the line. Impatient fishermen will quit before the good results happen. Fishing teaches us that if we believe in a process, and have passion for that process, to continue the process until we succeed. If I had listened to friends and family I would not have become a writer, yet I believed and stuck with it. Now here I sit more than 50 books and hundreds of columns for the Johnson City Press later.
Be in the moment, and live it out. Too often we lament the past and worry about the future. Anglers have to stay focused on the now. They have to forget the big one that got away an hour ago, and not dream of a better fishing hole down the river. They have to execute the cast they are casting now.
Being in the moment delivers the best chance for landing that lunker. And when you catch one relish in the event — don’t worry about to whom to brag, or posting a picture on Facebook so others can see and get jealous.
There are no guarantees in life. We can’t change the past and we can’t control the future. Therefore, truly live out every day God gives you. My wife Keri Anne is the master of this. She’s always in the now and has helped me learn this life lesson. So will fishing.