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If you have ever been or ever intend to go fishing with me, or any of my brothers for that matter, there are a few tips I want to share that might make the experience much better for all of us. These aren’t hard and fast rules, They’re more like explanations in advance for what you can expect.
The first thing to understand is that we all learned to fish from our grandfather, Harry, and our father, Gene. They would never have admitted this, but secretly they considered fishing to be a competition always — and a full-contact sport at times. And, by God, they played to win by whatever means necessary.
Now, we don’t necessarily take it as seriously as they did, but we did pick up some tactics that others might consider, oh I don’t know, sociopathic. So with that in mind, please understand when you go fishing with me that it’s probably not going to be the same as fishing with someone else.
First of all, terminology is important. For example, you need to know the difference between a good fishing spot and a terrible fishing spot.
If we’re both catching fish, that’s a good spot. If I’m catching fish and you’re not. That’s a still a good spot. You just don’t know how to fish. And I don’t care if your end of the boat is in three inches of water and under a hornets’ nest. We’re staying put.
On the other hand, if you’re catching more fish than I am, then we are in a terrible spot and that means we’re going to have to move immediately. And don’t be surprised if the move consists solely of turning the boat about 180 degrees. You’d be amazed at how fast that can make a terrible spot into a great one.
The next thing to understand is our bait situation. Again, it’s critical that you know the language. For instance, if I say, “We’re low on bait,” what that really means is that you’re low on bait. When I say we’re out of bait, it means I’m low on bait. When I say, “It’s time to leave,” that means I’m out of bait.
Now, let’s go over what we do back at the landing. Say we come back with a mess of fish. Somebody’s bound to ask where we caught them. You can say “in the water” or “by a log” or “in the Eastern United States.” Be imaginative. In fact, there’s only one wrong answer and that’s to tell somebody where we actually caught them.
* * *
At this point, you may be getting the idea that I only care about myself. But that’s not true. You’ll see my generous side when we get back on the hill. I’ll offer you as many fish as you want. Of course, I’ll make that offer exactly once and it’ll be before the fish are cleaned. Afterwards, all bets are off.
Finally, let’s talk about how the trip is described to others: If we don’t catch fish, my story is that I simply went along with you. Even if I kidnapped you at gunpoint and dragged you onto the boat kicking and screaming.
If we go and catch fish, then I took you fishing. And it doesn’t matter if it was your truck, your boat, your tackle and you dug the worms by hand.
There’s an old saying that success has many fathers. But only one can be in the family photo – and that’s going to be me.
All right. Now let’s go fishing.