You can find lots of knowledge in books, mags, online and seminars but . . .
What first drew you to fishing? Was it a smashing strike that practically ripped a trolling rod off the side of a friend’s boat? Or, perhaps you were drawn to fishing at an early age, captivated by a bobber dipping beneath the surface. Maybe it was that muggy summer afternoon, toes dangling in the water, when an unknown tug on the end of the line pulled you out of a dream. But at one time, on some river, lake or ocean, something happened. Deep within your heart, something was triggered. Fishing was in your blood for life. Fishing, and the events surrounding fishing, pierced your soul.
Since that first tug on your soul your love of the sport has grown. As your enthusiasm grows on the water you’ve most likely spent a fair amount of money buying new tackle and seeking knowledge from more experienced anglers and assorted fishing resources, like magazines or on line forums. That’s the science behind our sport.
Knowledge of fish, the environment, electronics, tackle and lures is good. It’s a good foundation but to become a great fisherman, you need more than knowledge. You need experience.
Great fishermen don’t follow the crowds. They go fishing.
Today, many anglers have become, well, lazy. They want to sit back and wait for others to tell them where to fish and what lures to use. I leaned a long time ago that hot lures and being a copycat does not a good fisherman make. I still remember the August day in 1980 when my dad and I trolled behind Jeff Heinz’s Linda Sue. We were on his same track for miles and I thought I knew what he was doing, and I thought I was doing the same thing, but the results told a different story. He filled his boat with fish and we caught only a few.
Don’t misunderstand me—knowledge is helpful for building a foundation but you need more than one man’s hot setup or never fail tactic. You need to get out on the water and adapt what you learn to your own boat, tackle and style.
That’s the art of fishing. Simply put, time on the water leads to angling wisdom. On the water, through trials and errors we learn how to apply knowledge and season it with wisdom. Experience teaches you to weave that reservoir of fish-catching knowledge with your personal, unique, artistic style on the water. Your style of fishing may be very different than your buddies’ approach. Like snowflakes, no two fishermen are exactly alike; we’re all unique.
If you have more classroom time than experience let me encourage you. Fishing, like life, is a skill you develop. The first steps are always the most difficult but with time, we all learn to rig tackle, choose lures, set out spreads and find and catch fish. By spending time on the water, you will learn to think intuitively as you interpret currents and the impact of weather, season and topography on fish. Wisdom on the water matures when you anticipate and react to the nuances in our fishery.
But wisdom is much deeper than the waters we fish. You and I seek wisdom on the water and we go to great lengths to gain understanding of fishing and increase our catch. We incorporate the knowledge we’ve learned with our experience to guide our choices—where do we fish? What tackle? What lures?
What about life? Do we put the same amount of energy into our day-to-day rhythm? Or, do we just charge through our daily routine, oblivious of the words we use and the consequences of our actions towards friends, family members and ourselves? On the water we pay close attention to the fish, the environment and our spread. Where do we look for wisdom in our daily lives?
What knowledge base do we use to guide our choices over the course of the day at home, work or play?
Today our culture is cluttered with competing voices promising wealth, success, health and peace. Many men simply take the Lone Ranger approach to life. While this approach gives you complete authority, for a while, my friend Craig Glass of Peregrine Ministries says, “every man is one decision away from ruining his life.” That’s a sobering thought; let it sink in for a minute.
I spent years drifting on the open sea of life, searching for meaning. After much pain I came to realize that one voice has been speaking since the foundation of time, pointing us to look beyond ourselves to a deeper source of wisdom. I know that I might lose some of you at this point, but hope you’ll read the last few sentences.
The Creator of our wild and complex world seeks to engage with you and me in the midst of our daily struggles. The Author of life cares enough for you and me that he sent His son to bridge the gap that separates us from God and even left us an owner’s manual to Being Human. This book continues to speak truth into the lives of those who engage with it. Like true fishing wisdom, which only comes by spending time on the water applying the knowledge gained from books, magazines and seminars, true Life-wisdom takes root and leads to life when we take the lessons from the Bible and apply them to our everyday grind.