If you are reading this, chances are that we share a common passion. Maybe we love fishing for different reasons but there is no denying that it drives us, it inspires us to awake in the darkness and sometimes travel great distances to feel that tug at the end of our line. For me it is almost primal: some recessed hunter/gatherer gene handed down through the generations that takes control of my thoughts and feelings as soon as my line hits the water. There is some undefinable satisfaction to be had when, after all the preparation and anticipation, we land our quarry.
There are those who see fishing as a means of finding peace and tranquility, preferring to go solo. You sometimes notice them paddling a kayak miles from shore, or hip-deep in a cold stream casting a fly to a perfect four-count rhythm. Some prefer fishing to be a social event, planning and taking trips in the company of friends who enhance the overall experience, using the time to escape the daily grind that plagues so many of us. Whatever the motivation behind it, the important part is to enjoy one’s self, to fulfill that need inside of us.
I am going somewhere with this, I assure you. Let me tell you how this train of thought began: Recently I was asked to provide a fishing-related picture of myself for a profile that was being built. Like every angler I know, I did not anticipate this to be a problem. I have boated more fish than I can possibly remember (although everyone that got away is firmly etched in my mind) and I seem to remember a camera being present for many of them. Feeling confident, I dug into the files on my computer looking for that perfect shot that would show the world what a fantastic fisherman I was (insert sarcastic chuckle here). As I wandered back through these memories I began to wonder if I had caught any fish at all in my life. The vast majority of what I was seeing were pictures of my family, even our beloved family dog, proudly displaying the likes of trout, salmon, striped and largemouth bass, halibut, leopard sharks, tuna, sailfish…the list goes on.
Something began to take shape in my mind. It became evident from these pictures that what I really found important about these trips was not the all-too-critical proof of my catch, but sharing my love of fishing with my loved ones and the success THEY had on our trips.
The smiles in these photos were absolutely genuine and the times we spent together on our small boat brought us together in a way that few other activities could match. We weren’t just spending time together, we were enjoying being together. When we targeted new species and locations we learned together, armed with what information could be had from local reports and experimenting until we had it dialed.
Most of all, it guaranteed that something I valued and loved would be passed on and continued long after my time.
Which finally brings me to my point. We all have our personal preferences when it comes to fishing, and be it far from me to fault anyone for what makes them happy and satisfies that monkey. However, maybe it would bring a different kind of satisfaction to share that experience with someone in your life who ordinarily might not benefit from it. Maybe, once in a while, you could forego your usual itinerary and focus on just letting someone new see why you love fishing. After all, it is something that is very hard to put into words. You might be surprised. You might just find a new fishing buddy who complements your style (in my experience that can sometimes be a rare thing).
You might find that time on the water has a way of initiating conversations that might not normally be had on land. Important conversations. Who knows? You might create a monster who takes what you give them and runs with it further than you ever imagined. At the very least, you might find that someone appreciates you for taking some time to spend with them.
Long story short (too late, I know) take someone fishing who does not usually get to go: wife, husband, son, daughter, niece, nephew, the next-door neighbor, anyone, someone. If you are a run-and-gun or offshore, hardcore kind of angler, maybe you could cater a trip more suited for a beginner.
Try not to let it be complicated; keep it simple: a lake that has just been stocked with trout, catfish, bluegill or perch. For first-timers, catching trophies is much less important than just catching fish. Fishing is fishing, but we all know that some species are easier to catch than others, and if you want someone to discover what we all know and love, just put them on something.
Nothing hooks a new angler more than hooking fish. The more challenging stuff can come later. I believe this to be an important part of ensuring that our way of life that continues. I have taken first-timers out on many occasions.
Can you guess how many of them came back and told me that they didn’t like fishing? None.