Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Motivations of a Fishing Dad

Competitive fishing has inspired me to be a better person, to love life, and to appreciate all that is. Competition squeezes an angler's knowledge and skill into an eight hour window, where time is the opponent. Preparation, skill, intuition, and mental toughness are the ingredients required in this game of prowess. 

My first tournament of 2015 was a pathetic representation on my home lake Tohopelaga, FL. Even though I caught about 80 bass during the week and limits each day of competition, I failed to have a good showing. My 122 place finish hurt, and hurt deep. 

While most consider fishing a recreational past-time or fun game, I consider it a way of life.  

When I was young, fishing allowed me to explore nature, gave me a sense of the natural order in life, kept me out of trouble, and provided a mechanism for personal accomplishment in a judgement free arena.  No adults around to tell me what I could and couldn't do. If I caught fish, my technique was good, regardless of how untraditional my method was. 

Back then on my fishing trips, I either observed the fishing conditions accurately enough to catch fish using hunks of plastic and steel lures, or I went home skunked scratching my head about the clues I missed. 

Fast forward 30 years later and the process has not changed. Only the speed of the game. 

I fish to keep in tune with nature, keep grounded with life, remain out of trouble, and gain from the accomplishments of catching fish. ....It's personal, and an individual way of challenging the natural world. 

For some unknown reason I have always been drawn to learning how to live in the wild. Fishing is just an extension of the frontiersman in me. I also find enjoyment learning age old craftsman techniques and scavenging for wild edible plants. Our native Americans knew these things was a way of life and I envy their knowledge. 

As a competitor on the Bassmaster Southern Open tour I push myself against the best, and force myself to fish on new, unfamiliar waters in many states. I thrive for these new adventures and new waterways. 

One day my goal is to complete on a major fishing circuit that does not allow prefishing, forcing competitors to apply instinct and knowledge, rather than  networks and money. 

I constantly tell myself, "to grow we must push ourselves to higher standards and compete against those better than us." To me, instinct is the most valuable asset in nature. 

In order to get better as an angler on the Bassmaster tour, I found I have to get quicker at breaking down fishing conditions on new waters. 

We are always competing against local experts and full-time pros.  However, weather has a way of leveling the playing field. Cold fronts, heavy rains, high flows, and Gail force winds knock most anglers off their game. I like playing on an even field and often benefit from adverse weather. 

Going to new fisheries gives me a high level of anticipation, a chance to do research and apply my scientific background, and a chance to test my fishing theories. The ultimate result is the final exam...the tournament standings. 

So far in my four years on the Southern Open tour I've maintained a top 25% average. While I would have considered this an amazing feat when I was young, it doesn't make me happy. I'm not in contention enough. 

I want to be competitive! I want to put a trophy on my shelf and cash in my family's savings. I want to say that I figured out nature quicker than the other anglers. I want to feel like an accomplished biologist, understanding both science and animal behavior.

The anglers I meet on the tour come from many states and many lifestyles. I really enjoy the family feel of the tour, and welcome new members.

For the rest of 2015, I look to improve my standings and learn the game quicker, so as to be in contention more often!  

Our next Bassmaster Southern Open event is near Montgomery on the Alabama River. I really look forward to catching the hard fighting Coosa River spotted bass in the Alabama River.  Prattville will be the host city and I can't wait to explore the area which the Alibamu and Cousatta Indians called home. To float on this historic waterway will surely produce a nostalgic feeling in me. 

I am forever grateful to our soldiers who provide the freedoms we enjoy.  May God look over them and protect them. 

Thank you for following my blog. I wish I could take all my friends and family on my next tournament adventure, but it's against the rules so we will have to settle for my photos and field notes in my upcoming blog posts.