I’ve touched upon the fact I believe my love for fishing has kept me young. I’m turning 41 this month, but I feel like the part of my brain that fuels my enthusiasm, stopped aging when I was about 14. This has its pros and cons, it keeps me passionate and curious and inspired; I still experience those updrafts of inspiration when all I can think about is the object of that inspiration—it’s usually a fishing spot or a lure design or a new way to approach a known fishing location. But it can also make me seem distant at times and can affect my ability to concentrate on things that don’t have to do with fishing—that can be a problem. That’s why I work in the fishing industry!
But it also means that I’m not afraid to smudge the line between right and wrong when accessing a fishing spot. I still think with the same mind I did when I was 13, 18 and 26. It’s almost like I still think I’m too young to get into trouble. And I have proven myself a master at talking my way out of trouble, but that’s a subject for another day.
The other night my wife and daughter went for an overnight at my in-law’s and I had no trouble regressing into bachelor mode. I left the house at 6 p.m. and returned when the birds were chirping. In between that time I fished many locations and not one of them was technically public, but my respect for the land, my ability to be VERY QUIET and my artistic flair for inventive parking has always seen me through.
One of these spots requires walking through a large plot of farmland and I was once chased out of there by a couple farmhands in a white sedan—but that was years ago. Dave met me at the parking spot, we suited up and walked out there, fished the end of the tide and then started walking back. There’s a prominent crossroads in the center of the plot and as we reached that junction I stopped and looked up the hill at a strange glow emanating from behind the rise. I pondered its origin for a second or two until I noticed the edges of this halo of light were bouncing without rhythm, almost like tires on a dirt road. Just as I came to that realization, two headlights peeked over the hill like searching eyes.
Standing at a crossroads meant that there was a 33% chance that the vehicle would turn down the road we were standing on! Running through the crops was definite no-no, try talking your way out of trespassing after trampling their bread and butter! So we turned and ran – like kids – that nervous flutter of laughter taking to the sky like a flock of partridge flushed from a thicket. I haven’t run that hard in a decade, two men, in their 40’s, running and like children. We cleared the edge of the row, a 400-foot sprint, I measured it on Google Earth, and ducked behind a coiled hose hanging from a faucet on a post. Not exactly hide and seek material, but it was all we had.
We knelt there, catching our breath, and watched the dark SUV continue straight through the ‘intersection’. Sweet relief and then a brief moment concern when I thought the SUV might make a strategic U-turn to scour the entirety of lower field with its high-beams, but the vehicle just slowly rolled on until it stopped at the house down by the water.
What’s the lesson here? I’m really not even sure. I think the realization I’m coming to in this moment is that when you’re doing something that you know is probably not the right thing to do, you assume that someone out there is trying to catch you in the act. But if you’re just fishing and leaving nothing but footprints behind—you haven’t given anyone a reason to look.