I don’t typically give away my fishing secrets, but I’ll let you in on one if you promise not to tell.
Fishing is about more than catching fish.
Sure, racking up huge numbers or reeling in a big one is an integral part of the experience. But the more you fish, the more you come to appreciate the little things.
A few of my recent outings have yielded lower-than-usual catch rates. A couple catfish here. A handful of trout there. Four bass on a stretch of river that usually gives up a dozen. But every trip has been memorable for different reasons. Because while catching fish is the literal name of the game, the subtle nuances are why fishing never disappoints. Here are a few of my favorites:
Going Off the Grid: We live busy, often hectic lives. Between television, smart phones, email and social media, there’s almost always a screen in our face. Fishing presents the perfect opportunity to turn off your cell phone and unplug from the outside noise. Even if the fishing is slow, I’ll take sitting in a float tube over sitting in the office, sitting in traffic or sitting in front of the TV any day of the week.
The Call of the Wild: I’ve always been an animal lover, and some of my coolest encounters with nature have come while fishing. Just this year, I’ve bumped into bald eagles, beavers, deer, mink, frogs, turtles, raccoons and even a badger. It’s always fun to see wild animals and the clues they leave behind. On a recent trip to the Snake River, we found a pile of broken, hollowed-out clamshells on a rock, next to a single, smooth “shell cracking” stone — almost certainly the handiwork of a crafty river otter.
The Company You Keep: The solitude of fishing alone is nice every once in a while, but I usually prefer going with friends. Whether reliving the good old days with high school buddies, showing a newcomer the tricks of the trade, blowing off steam with colleagues after work or exchanging some friendly trash talk with my diehard fishing partner, every trip is a blast. Family outings are great, too. Our little dog Winston loves going for a boat ride, and my wife usually manages to catch the big one.
Mysterious Ways: As I’ve written before in this column, my absolute favorite thing about fishing is adventuring into the great unknown. You never know what might happen on any given trip, and that sense of mystery is easy to get hooked on. Whether you’re a kid with a Snoopy pole or an old pro with a high-end fly rod, your next cast could be the one that hooks the fish of a lifetime.
So the next time you go fishing, take time to smell the roses. You might catch a whopper, or you might not catch much at all. But no matter how hungry the fish are, something cool is bound to happen. When it does, you’ll be glad you were paying attention to the little things.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at firstname.lastname@example.org.