What keeps me fishing?
.....Morning, a foggy haze looms, dawn cracking through the east Texas pines. Windows down, making our way down a winding dirt road. Toledo Bend reservoir, early 80's. As tough it was yesterday the memory remains. A small child, hurrying his grandfather “think they'll bite today pawpaw?”, a smile and a promising look “maybe so son, maybe so”. A 15ft aluminum v-bottom, no motor, no trolling motor. Just a single paddle, an anxious child, and a man passing on a tradition. Slowly we ease into the water, pressing our way into a tree filled and secluded cove. Motionless sits the water, shad flicker, birds are waking. A fish jumps in the distance…….the cast. A much anticipated point, Zebco 33, pistol grip rod, and a old Smithwick carrot top. Twitch…….twitch……the glorious strike, almost in itself, worth the whole trip.
The first real memory I have of fishing and also the moment I knew I’d do it forever whether it be for fun or otherwise. Like most I’ve been in a boat since I was probably 4 or 5. Yet this moment is the memory that I will never lose. Tournament wins, loses, regionals and state qualifiers made - all great but nothing like that day. That moment that you realize “this is it”.
So simple yet so complex - and trying. A sport of failure. Why would anyone want to chase these fish in holes of grandeur? For failure is certain, the greats all failed, and still fail. Yet they will be at the ramp every morning smiling waiting for that one moment where everything falls in place.
Humble pie served daily…
It’s a mental game between you and 5 little fish. No one can stop you, no referees, no timeouts. No one can block your shots - you won’t get plowed over at the starting line by a 300 pound lineman. It’s you against the lake, against the fish, against yourself. Mentally demanding, constantly thinking and rethinking. Did I make the right decision? Should I have started somewhere else? Am I using the right bait? It taxes the mind, you can’t second guess yourself ever. Your instincts will almost always tell you what to do, but you have to listen. Your mind is a trickster, so follow your instincts, let experience guide you.
Physically, no one can hurt you during competition. However it’s physical. Rough water,70+mph sometimes hour or more runs at a time. Aches and pains are imminent. Standing for 6 to 8 hours in one small area, making the same motions over and over. Cold, wind, blistering sun, rain, these are all things you battle.
These are all things that are against you. You ask “why would you do that?” Because we have to, it’s in our DNA, the longing to hoist the trophy. To be great at something is a deep rooted desire in all people, few ever achieve it, some never try. When I’m gone, I’’ll have gone out still trying I’m sure.
Competition is a driver for me. I love it - to test yourself is always a battle. You win some, you lose some. Learn to lose to be a better winner. Loss will happen, not because you didn’t try, or you're not as good as someone else. Not everyone wins, and you don’t have to “win” to be a winner. Case in point, take Kevin Van Dam, arguably the best angler on the planet. Has fished well over 300 tournaments, 22 elite series wins…….22…that’s roughly a 7% average. That means 93% of the time he lost. It happens to the best of them. Learn from it, take it on the chin, smile, shake hands, congratulate. At the end of the day, it’s fun and you're chasing a dream.
They're all different. Just don’t give up on them. You have them for a reason, strive to reach them. The chase is rewarding within itself. Enjoy the journey, the trials, the errors, the victories, the defeats. The long hours, no one can make the journey for you. I chase mine so that my daughter will know what it’s like, to fail and be O.K. and to keep trying. She will never see me give up. So fight for yours, whatever the reasons. Fight on, remember if you fail you still did better then those who never tried, or were afraid of failing.
GO FAST…………DO WORK………..CHASE DREAMS……….GET PAID