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Focus on the fun of fishing

By Rusty Chinnis – February 22, 2021

To many anglers, fishing is simple. It’s no more complicated than dangling a shrimp or fishing a jig in any likely spot. But, like other human activities, the level of involvement ranges from the simple to the insane. Most people fall somewhere in between. Some live and breathe life on the water. They dream of rigging rods and reels, sharpening hooks, consulting charts and exploring tackle shops. They regularly consult YouTube videos and online forums for intel on the next great lure or fly.

What we should all strive for, however, is keeping our fishing fun.

Some anglers steadily graduate from cane poles to graphite spinning rods and fly tackle. Some never consider killing a fish, epitomizing the catch and release ethos. Others sport stickers on the back of their trucks with slogans such as: “I Kill Fish.” Once again, most of us fall somewhere in between, content with our fishing method, respecting our catch and enjoying an occasional fresh fish dinner.

Fishing can develop into an individual passion, one that’s much more than catching. Some of us can have a great day on the water and never catch a fish, others may be disappointed if they don’t fill the cooler.

But whether we’re just relaxing on the boat or are constantly alert, the oceans and bays sharpen our senses and take us away from our day-to-day lives. Whatever kind of fisherperson we might be, everyone profits from being immersed in the natural world. The important thing is to enjoy the experience and come back to shore in a better mood than we left.

Of course, not every day on the water is as relaxing and enjoyable as we’d like it to be. Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate, the fish don’t bite and engine and tackle problems intrude on our reverie. A fishing trip, after all, isn’t immune to the unpredictable. The best advice is to expect the best and be prepared for the worst. Be flexible. I know anglers who wouldn’t think of picking up anything other than a fly rod. While I might have been one of them earlier, these days I usually include a spinning rod in my rod rack. After more than my share of frustrating days, I learned a valuable lesson and became less dogmatic. Now I seldom venture onto the water without a spinning rod or two, outfitted with a jig and/or a topwater plug. When the wind makes it just too much work to fly fish, I switch to my spinning tackle, a move that has paid dividends more than once.

If you are a live-bait angler, try artificial lures, particularly topwater plugs. Sometimes, when the pinfish are stealing your hard-won bait faster than you can get them on the hook, artificial lures can save the day. The important part is to make the best of your day on the water. Be okay if the catch is less than you hoped for, because if you keep your eyes open, you’ll learn lessons that will pay dividends on future trips.

Taking a kid fishing is a great way to break out of a narrow focus on catching. They’ll be thrilled to land fish but will also notice the rays, dolphins, manatees, birds and other creatures that inhabit our watery world. Whatever your experience, make sure that you’re able to focus on fun.