Lessons Learned While Fishing: Try Not to be Stupid

I went out with some friends fishing yesterday, taking along TRC and DC for the ride. It was a different type of fishing than I’d done before. More like hunting, really. We were out on a lake in a canoe, and we were hunting bass. You look down into the water, searching for spots where the bass are laying eggs at this time of year. From what I understand, the male bass just hover over their spot, protecting it from anything they think might be dangerous.

Such as a bare hook.

You find the bass, you lower the hook, the bass sees it, bites it, you reel in. Did the bass get away? No worries–he swims right back to his spot and resumes guarding. Lower the hook. Reel in again. As I told someone else, it really felt like I’d found a cheat code for fishing. (Of course, it felt this way because the friend I was with is insanely good with a canoe paddle. He also knows just what to look for when searching for these egg-laying spots. After a while I got so I could tell them apart, too. But you need the water to be perfectly still so that you can see to the bottom. Polarized sunglasses would also help. Plus, knowing how to stand in a canoe and not tip over. Really, it was more my friend fishing than me, even though he never lowered a hook once. He had to keep maneuvering the canoe against the wind, keeping us over the bass. I have no idea how he managed to do it. I had a fantastic time–as did TRC and DC–but this is not a fishing expedition I could do on my own. Maybe if there were absolutely no wind . . . )

Anyway. We caught three bass in the space of an hour and a half or so. I caught the first, TRC the second, and my friend’s daughter the third. They were each around 17 inches long, weighing around 3 or 3.5 pounds. A great afternoon expedition.

But as is often the case when I’m fishing, I couldn’t help but think about some life lessons in the middle of the trip. There are the obvious ones–like DC complaining she was bored in the middle of the trip. We’re out on a canoe on a picturesque lake in Maine, a gorgeous spring afternoon, there’s a rainbow in the sky, loons swimming by, and bass being caught. And she’s bored. Lesson learned? Appreciate what you have when you have it. But like I said, that’s the easy lesson.

I was watching these bass as we caught them, amazed that something could be that predictable. It’s very paternal of the fish, I’ll grant them that. (And before you think we’re awful human beings for doing this to the poor fishies, realize that the bass in this particular lake aren’t supposed to be there. They were illegally stocked a while ago, and the state fish biologists would really prefer it if fishermen could eradicate all the bass. Hence this approach is actually helpful for the environment of that lake, as I understand it. But I digress.) It just was stunning that a fish could make the same exact mistake, over and over and over. Biting the hook must have hurt. It struggled like anything to get away once it was hooked, but it just couldn’t not┬ábite that hook the next time.

Stupid fish.

But then I looked at myself. At my dieting (which is always on my mind these days). In many ways, don’t I do the same thing as that fish? I see a brownie. I know I shouldn’t eat it. I eat it anyway. And brownies are just the easy example. There are lots of things I do that I know I shouldn’t do. Stay up too late watching movies. Don’t clean the house. Snap at my family. Slack off on my goals–you name it. I know I’d be happier if I didn’t do those things, but when they’re right there in front of me, I just can’t seem to help myself.

I bite the bare hook.

There’s hope, however. We found one last fish–a fourth. He was there over his eggs, protecting them the same as the other three had. The kids had all caught their fish, so I was casting again. I placed the hook perfectly. The fish went right up to it, looked at it, and then swam away. I thought I must have done something wrong, so I tried again. And again. I hit the fish in the back with the hook. I bobbed it up and down appealingly. The fish wasn’t having any of it. We tried for twenty minutes, and then went elsewhere.

That fish is my hero. I want to be that fish.

It’s good to have goals in life . . .

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