My first exposure to sleep deprivation came as a young boy. Whenever my dad told me we were going fishing the next day, it was game on. I would toss and turn for hours just imagining the fish I would catch. I couldn’t wait until my dad’s alarm clock would sound its awful screech at 4:00am. Those nights stirred my mind far greater than Christmas Eve ever did. To this day, I would chose nature over Santa. Sadly, I’m about 15 years removed since I last snagged a native rainbow from a mountain stream. Now that I’m raising kids of my own, maybe it’s a good thing that there are no trout waters within a day’s trip. My family might wonder if I had gone missing.
Listed below are 4 of the many fishing lessons that have “stuck” with me through the years. I think these can easily be applied to mastering the craft of your choice.
First, FISHERMEN ARE THE FISH. Look at any tackle box, there is often more tackle than there are fish! Put a fisherman in a bait shop and all of a sudden he discovers that he needs an assortment for every variety. Will the red lure satisfy? Nope, he needs the yellow, blue, silver, black, green, purple, neon, rainbow, small, medium, and large version of each.
THE CHALLENGE: Take a step back. Master what you have. Can you make a masterpiece with a limited pallet? Maybe 3 colors instead of 30? Can you craft something with hand tools instead of power tools? Can you use scraps, leftovers, or second hand? Can you make a hit song with one or two instruments, or limited chords? In other words, look at your “tackle box” and tell yourself you won’t stop until you catch a record size fish on a “rubber worm” the most basic of all lures. After all, it can – and has been done.
Second, HOOKS DON’T JUST HOOK FISH. My wife recently called with elevated distress in her voice. She informed me that one of the kids had a fishing hook wedged in the knee and that she couldn’t get it out. No problem, I thought, this guy – yours truly, has lots of experience. My brother once buried a size 6 hook in my scalp and a short time later his friend wrapped one around my eyelid. Whether in a tree limb above, a muddy boot below, or a puncture to the flesh, no fishing trip is ever complete without some type of snag. Hooks are designed to hook, and they don’t discriminate.
THE CHALLENGE: Are there some pricks in your life worth avoiding? What about the hooks that can’t be avoided? Can you use additional caution while handling? Anyone who gets hooked knows that it hastily puts a halt to your plans. When it comes to your craft, your habits, your mental and physical health, etc. identify the hooks and then stay on guard. Remember, hooks hook, and they don’t feel good.
Third, there is a difference between an “angler” and a “fisherman.” Anglers catch more fish because they understand – you guessed it – angles. They use principles of geometry to cast with far less effort. They use geometry to set the hook and fight the fish while maintaining a good hook to mouth purchase. They also use angles that are far less geometric and much more strategic such as sight fishing, matching the hatch, weather conditions, spawning cycles, GPS and fish locaters.
THE CHALLENGE: What angle can you more efficiently employ to master your craft? Without a doubt, there is something in your process that is causing you to take the “long way” home. Find the best ways to increase efficiency. The more time you save, the more time you have to practice. I repeat, good angles cut costs and save time – be an angler!
Finally, consider the following quote: “Fisherman, take your cue from the great blue heron, which makes its living as a fisherman. Do herons strut about with wings flapping? Do they splash with Zeal as they hunt for a meal? No, they slowly tiptoe to the streams edge, blending into the background while they carefully scan the water at their feet. When they move to another spot, it’s invariably upstream. Each step is cautious and deliberate, causing barely ripple.”
Heron’s don’t keep their bellies full by being anything short of deliberate. Big fish don’t get big by being careless. Can you catch fish while being loud and obnoxious? Sure. But the smartest of the bunch, the most adept at survival (and nature always produces a few) will find somewhere else to feed, especially with a species as easily spooked as trout.
THE CHALLENGE: How can you be more deliberate like the heron? Novelist Stephen King advises that writers put their desk in the corner of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art; it’s the other way around. Examine the most accomplished people in the field or craft that you wish to master. What are they doing that you don’t? How is their focus different than yours? Do they fish like a casual fisherman, are they an angler, or are they next level like a heron? Forget the tackle in your box, the bait you should be focused on are the clues left behind by the masters.