A 12-year old obsessed angler talks about the lessons learned thanks to an early introduction to fishing.
If you ask me, there is nothing quite like fishing. Most of you reading this likely already know this but you may have a son, daughter, spouse or friend that does not. Often, when you talk to someone who has not fished or has not been introduced to it properly you will hear things, like “fishing is a waste of time”, “it’s boring” or “fishing is not a sport”. I am 12 years old, and my dad introduced me to fishing at the age of 3 and I have been hooked ever since. I learned early on that that those assumptions people make about fishing, could not be further from the truth.
Make It What You Want
The magic of fishing is that you make it what you want it to be. It can be calm and relaxing, exhilarating, challenging or tactical; and for those who say fishing is not a sport try a fishing tournament, the competition can be fierce. You want a workout? Hook into a big fish and you will work every muscle in your body. Fishing will also teach you life lessons. You will learn self-confidence gained through knowledge and experience. You will learn to be more patient, to think on your feet and to change things up when a plan is not working. Fishing will also force you to get creative when the bite gets challenging. You will also find that fishing provides a great way to enjoy quality time with those you love and care about.
All these fishing trips I’ve made with my dad have helped me to become more confident as my knowledge has grown and has made me more of a positive thinker because I always believe that we can figure it out. One of my favorite days last year is great example of this. My Dad and I were wrapping up a day of tog fishing on our boat and heading in for the evening. But as we were pulling into the harbor, I noticed seagulls swarming in the distance. I quickly jumped to my feet and asked my dad to pilot the boat over to where the birds were swarming. Every good fisherman knows what birds circling over the water means; fish!!
When It Happens
What could be better than fishing in the cool evening, with the sun setting and the ‘caw’ of the gulls getting louder and louder as we approached. When we arrived on the scene, the birds were diving down into the water all around us. Scanning the area, I saw the surface break with a glorious splash and quick flash of stripes as the fish turned. Then another behind us, then one off to the right and another! The green-tinted evening water was alive with bait launching into the air and stripers chasing them. I knew it was going to be an amazing end to an awesome day. “Let’s get the rods,” I shouted as another bass smashed the surface.
As we fired casts into the breaking fish, the feeding stripers proved to be surprisingly picky, but I was confident that we’d find the right combination to get them to bite. After trying a couple of casts with different lures, including a popper, which raised a few fish but no hits, and a Spro Prime Bucktail, with no luck, I decided to switch to my trusty red and white pencil popper, since the fish had shown some interest in other topwaters. I casted the pencil and watched as the salty water sprayed off my line, hoping this cast would be the one.
As I quickly moved the lure across the water with a stop-and-go action, it happened the water exploded around my plug and the lure sank into the water with a big splash. I quickly set the hook and my rod doubled over, the fish jumped out of the water, revealing its stunning black stripes and silver body. After the fish regained its bearings, I heard that sweet sound of my drag singing out under tremendous strain! After a good battle, I landed the beautiful 36.5-inch bass. In that moment, I wanted nothing more than to take that fish home to show to family and friends; I had always wanted to catch a nice striper like that! But my dad raised me to follow the rules and my beautiful fish was above the slot limit, which is not only the law but also designed to allow us to enjoy these awesome fish for decades to come.
After a quick photo, I leaned over with the fish and gently placed her into the water, holding her tail until she was strong enough to kick off. After the release I was back into the fish landing another ‘keeper’ at 28 inches before the sun went down and the blitz ended. It was hard for me to let my biggest striper go, but we got a great photo and my dad gave me a replica mount of the fish for my birthday. That’s why I like to say “let ‘em go, let ‘em grow!”
Nicholas has been a longtime photo contributor and it’s hard not to see myself in this young man. When I was 12 I could barely focus on my schoolwork because my eyes were out the window and my mind was waiting at the water’s edge while my body was at school. If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have uttered my famous quote, “I want to be a sportswriter that writes about fishing!” And somehow, I achieved that and more. I’m adding this blurb to the end of Nick’s amazing first article as a note to him and any other young anglers out there that have dreams similar to mine. Fishing is absolutely worthy of your time and it can become the common thread that links all of the segments of your life together. As Nick suggests, fishing can be whatever you make it, and I feel that he is well on his way to living a life that carries a central theme of fishing. Keep up the good work Nick, the world of fishing needs more people like you in it and we’ll all be watching and waiting to see what you do next.