You can’t catch anything unless you get your line in the water. In life, you will accomplish nothing, unless you get out there and try to do something. Yes, you may come home from a long day of fishing with nothing to show, but on other days your pail will be full and your smile will be wide.

Fish often hide in unexpected places. I often catch the biggest fish in the shade of a submerged log, or at the mouth of an underground outlet that I can’t see. A helping hand, a good friend, a great job, a good spouse, the perfect house can all come from the least likely places – if you let them.

The big fish get away when you try to hurry. When I have a large fish on the line, and you know the type – the pole is bent so far it looks like a great big C – I get real excited and tend to reel in too fast. The line snaps, or the fish wasn’t properly hooked in the first place and I lose the fish – the whopper. Take time to do things right, and you will often be pleased with the result and you won’t mess up so many things.

A lot of little fish make an excellent supper. Many times I have started fishing and caught little fish and threw them back waiting to land something bigger. The whole night passes and I don’t catch a single big fish, but I threw away a dozen smaller ones. If only I had kept the small fish, I would have had a good supper! We pass up a lot of good opportunities hoping for the big fish when it never comes. But if we were take advantage of all the small opportunities we would get ahead and have something to show for our hard work.

You can miss a bite if you’re not paying attention. How true! Some of the best things happen in a flash and if you’re not ready, on the edge of your toes and expectant, your chance will be gone. And the worst thing is, we often think there will be a second chance.

If you talk too much, the fish won’t bite! When I was younger, and sitting in the boat with my father, I would want to pass the time by talking. My father would always respond in whispers and when he got real frustrated, he would shush me. “You’re scaring away the fish!” And it’s true; very few loud fishermen catch anything. Picture this: two fishermen sitting on a dock, their lines out in the water, and the only sound is the crickets in the high grass along the lake’s edge. The fish slowly swim in and around the dock. Each of the fishermen catch a few. Then up tromps the third fisherman, his loud steps thunking on the dock. He drops his pole and it clatters against the metal pilings. He turns on his boom box and tosses out his line. He asks the other fishermen how the fishing is and continues a running dialogue. The fish will be no where in sight! Wisdom comes from reflecting on the things we do and see.

Persistence pays off. Persistence and experience are often the same things. A good fisherman knows where the best fishing is. Why is that? They go out everyday and learn from experience. They try different lures and baits until they find what the fish are biting. Even if they don’t catch anything the first day, they come out a second and a third. A fisherman who gives up after the first day of fishing because he didn’t catch anything is not really a fisherman. They are just an idiot who went fishing one day. If you fail at something, keep trying. If you’re persistent, you’re bound to succeed one day.

Fish tales always seem to grow in the retelling. Life is better when it’s shared. Friends and family. They’re interested in your life’s stories, they laugh in good natured fun when you embellish a little. And they’re there to enjoy the spoils.

© Seth Crossman