Fishing Lessons

I have rediscovered my love of fishing over the last few years. It’s a great way to relax and a good time to think thoughts serious and silly, foolish and wise, about anything and nothing. Sometimes I even think about fishing. But while I haven’t learned everything I need to know from fishing, there are lessons to be had:

“The fish are in the water.” Observing children, I’ve noticed that the typical young fisherman skitters here and there, changing bait, casting hither and yon, snagging trees and brush. The only time some wet a hook is when they dump their gear in the creek. Yet all that thrashing around is for naught unless one keeps one’s line where the fish are, which, in my experience, is in the water. Focus where you have a chance to succeed.

“Not every cast has to be perfect.” I like to think I can read a stream as well as the next guy and love to land my hook in just the right spot, but I’ve made many a fine catch off a bad cast. Fish aren’t nearly the perfectionists that fishermen are, and you’re better off finishing what you’ve begun than reeling it in every time you miss an inch. Don’t quit at every slip.

“You can ask where the fish are biting but don’t believe it.” The proprietor of a small store near my favorite stream is a friendly man, quick to confide the best place to go, always a small stretch just below his store. I’ve never caught anything there or seen anyone catch anything, but it’s an easy walk with lots of shady places to sit – and a convenient stroll back for a bag of chips and a soda. Pick your own spot for the right reasons.

“You catch it, you clean it.” I have had the pleasure of taking several kids on their first fishing trips and most have a blast, at least until clean-up time. I took my nephew, now in his 30s, on his first trip when he was 7; it was also his last for about 15 years after his experience cleaning his catch. I suppose anyone who enjoys gutting a fish might wish to consult a therapist, but it is part of the deal. Even the best things require a little dirty work; don’t be above it.

“Wishes aren’t fishes,” which is why we don’t all have a fry. Actually a quick web search turned up about a dozen endings to that old verse, with one common theme: You can’t dream things into existence. Add effort and persistence and we’d have a fine stew, or cats would be king, or no man would starve …

“Getting skunked is just a good reason to go again.” That may sound like a bumper sticker, but there’s always another chance even if it’s next month, next year, or next decade. In the end, you are only beat when you give up.

“Sometimes the biggest fish are in the roughest water.” I like to sneak up on a quiet pool from upstream, then let my line drift into it naturally. But those spots are a fair hike apart where I go, and I’ve pulled many a nice trout from eddies and froth. Learn to work the rough, or you’ll spend a lot of time walking.

Which would never do. As everyone knows, the fish are in the water.

About the Author
Brent Morrison is the founding principal at Morrison. To get in touch with Brent, please find contact information for Morrison here.


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