Its been a while since I’ve had the time to sit down and write. A full tilt El Nino had a lot to do with that, and plenty of time on the water. I also split with my wife and am still dealing with the aftermath, and some late season health issue scares that ate up some opportunities to be on the water (or write). Its all settling down now, time to reflect on an amazing year. My writing is more than a little rusty, so bear with me.
Looking back its great to see so many get a shot at experiencing such phenomenal weather and fishing, and watch as a new batch of book writers and seminar speakers emerge from the pack. Everyone caught fish, we all learned something, don’t call the publisher just yet. I’m lucky enough to have seen a few of these El Nino events, and it happens everytime. Just take in what you learned and try to apply it next year when its back to normal, back to more common to miss than to connect. That new jig that worked so well this year, might not work at all again until next El Nino. Shit, I caught tuna this year on an old Jap Head red and white feather that had a Scampi half melted to it when I found it at the bottom of an old baggie of treasures from the past. A couple events ago you might remember the bait stickers sold for the bottoms of boats, yea, that was a real hit the following year and ever since.
Sarcasm? Are you surprised? Just remember that next year it goes back to normal, where the guys consistently catching fish are the ones that make the effort. Leave early and stay late, go the extra mile and find the fish instead of following the pack. All the bad habits worked this season, but those that stay on that path will go back to wondering how to catch more. Each bite is started by one guy, typically from a small group of the same guys. Those close to them reap the benefits, and the rest get the scraps. That is the sad truth of this internet fishery we have nowadays.
The positive side is immense. Landing parking lots were full and charter boat docks were empty while unemployed Captains found a ride after some tight years. Hopefully kids and adults alike were either introduced or reintroduced to our sport, helping secure its economy for the near future. Boats were purchased, fuel burned, tackle abused and replaced. Its been a great shot in the arm for the industry.
Just remember to remind your guests from this year that the fishing was exceptional. Point out the fun time on the water, and explain to them the fun in just getting that chance to be out there. I’ve seen people get their feet wet on a wide open bite, only to find out on the next few trips how humbling it all can be.
Next year we take the knots we learned and see how they work after the really long soak. Spots we caught yellowtail on this year might not even have a bass on them next year, or for years to come, so focus on “why’s” and “how’s” and all that gaffing practice. Its all in the details. Be aware of how comfortable you are at the helm now compared to last year, running at night through a polka dotted radar screen is something we all dealt with. I’m sure we all put plenty of time in this year, and that time on the water and turns of the prop adds up to experience.
What did I learn? Lots. I learned after running “Bongo’s” a few times that I’m too old for that now. My yacht deal is what works best for me, being with people I know and boats I have spent half a lifetime on. I learned how much I really love a sundowner bite, and no schedule of when to be home. I’m even grateful to stay up all night to make bait, and not be at the mercy of the
receiver on any given day. I enjoyed my time on the “Bongo’s” for sure, and more than that I am flattered to have been asked to “come aboard and help.” Huge honor, thats a first class operation.
I learned about tough decisions and disappointment are on the path to happiness, in all aspects of my life. Life is too short to be unhappy. I learned about real and false friendships and alliances, and to be a little less giving to those who seem to always take without giving back. That can be said about fishing information and advice, and other parts of my life. You noticed I stopped the daily fish reports, yea, that no longer yielded positive results for me or this site. People griped, took advantage and talked shit. Like I said, life’s too short. The core group is now on speed dial, and we all talk after every trip. What we saw, who we saw, what time the fish bit and all the details that help build that map in our heads on which way to go. Gone are the guys that called to tell me how great the fishing was for two weeks but its now over, “oh, and by the way, where are the seabass at Catalina?” I’m done with that, doesn’t work for me.
At 45 I finally decided to stop being a people pleaser and focus more on the relationships that matter.
That old saying about “try not to use the words “always” or “never” in fishing?” I learned that one again, big time.
So plan those last trips and fish while there are still a few around, learn as much as you can. Forget the calendar, or that the kids are in school and the World Series is coming up. Fish have no idea, they just have to eat before leaving for wherever they go during the winter. Resist the voice in your head that tells you “I’m an expert now”, because we all learned something. Put down the pen, don’t call the publisher and defer those visions of being a seminar speaker. It all changes back to where it was in just a few short weeks.