When I was 15 I was really into motocross. I had the newest bike with all the aftermarket accessories and matching helmet and gear. I looked factory, I really did. Rode every weekend I could, and got the places we visited wired. Then one trip in particular I got a serious dose of humble pie. My older sister had a boyfriend that had raced motocross in the past, and he challenged me to a race. Well, I knew this little track like the back of my hand, and had the latest and greatest everything, so “bring it on!!”. The boyfriend proceeded to get on my Dads 1970 Kawasaki 90. A bike with springs in the back for suspension and a metal gas tank. “NO WAY could this guy even keep up with me”, or so I thought. He literally dusted me, blew me away. As we got off our bikes he looked at me and said one word……..”Talent”. Lesson learned.
These days the fishing industry in my little world has gotten quite competitive. FaceBook is a daily reminder of just how bad it is, with posts of guys holding fish and comments that can include a solid trashing and photos of one-upmanship. Simple conversations easily turn into a contest of who has done what and who did it better, probably where the term “fish story” came from. Embellishments and adjectives abound. Funny how when fellow chest pounders end up side by side fishing together there is always someone that is having their worst day ever, or so they say.
I escaped competitive team sports, surfing and motocross simply because fishing was more “fun.” Now I too find myself feeling a bit competitive more than I like. To really be able to chill out and relax, I’ll need a chair and some Power Bait for some trout action. Running boats as a hired operator has big expectations, none set higher than the one I set for myself, but do I have the talent? I have the time on the water, and the been-there-done-that, yet I still fall short of my visions of glory most of the time. I know as an angler I can’t hold a candle to some of the company I keep, but as an operator I seem to do just enough to not want to throw in the towel just yet.
The big question here is, why is fishing so competitive to me these days? I was told when I got my Captains License that fishing would become work and not play, but this is over the top. Have I been sucked into the internet and FaceBook as an alternate reality? Very possible. What I do know is this, I stack the odds in my favor as much as possible to offset whatever I lack in actual talent.
You’ve read it all here before. Leave early, stay late, avoid crowds and so-on. I take those things very seriously, it makes all the difference. Having anglers with talent on the boat helps a bunch too. If I’m going to run the “Fresh One” and Bob Elliott is going to be on the boat, I already have one foot in the winners circle, that guys just plain makes me look good. I prefer to fish when the weather is less than ideal, simply because its thins the crowd. Hearing about a bite somewhere is a huge advantage, because that means somewhere else is untouched and can be scouted completely without hassle.
Last few years there has been one thing above all that has helped me to accomplish the goals I set for myself enough to keep me coming back, and that is learning and adapting. I’d never have picked out a mint colored Tady 45 in a million years, but thanks to the internet I saw time and time again it was a killer color. For years I put all my effort into the slack high tide for seabass, only to watch the pattern change to the slack low is as at least as good as the high. Drifting for squid instead of anchoring? Who knew? I might not anchor while making squid again until it changes, and change it will.
So I admit I’m not the gifted one, born with enough talent to make it easy. I still want to catch more and bigger fish than the other guy, but I’m happy to see my buddies do well. I stick to what works for me until it doesn’t work anymore, then I adapt to what does work, best I can. Maybe one day we can all line up and figure out who’s the most talented, if thats even possible. I’ll just sit back and see who wins, unless its in a chair fishing for trout with Power bait. Oh, I got that wired. “Bring it ON!”