Last year I had a fishing trip that led me to seriously reevaluate just how much work and pain I go through each time I hit the water – and why I do it.
Considering what most anglers have to do, all the way from the very beginning of an adventure, right up to the bitter end of it, is a process I have long taken for granted. I think a lot of other guys out there do, too.
I realized that most of my trips actually begin a whole day before I go fishing. I start with my checklist items, beginning with the boat. Is it clean? I typically need to vacuum, mop and clean out the boat from the last trip. And in some cases, there is fish blood, scales, slime and smell all over everything, too. It takes a good hour or two.
Are the batteries charged, tire pressures good, axles OK and all my poles, tackle and equipment intact? I almost always need to get some critical lure for the trip, too! Gas up the boat and truck, and check the outboard motor oil. Time!
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It’s late afternoon now, and I still need to get the food, snacks, drinks and ice. Do I really have to go to the grocery store again? I’m already exhausted but at the same point still excited as I ponder the fishing. It’s 9:30 p.m. as I park the boat. I’m tired and wondering if I’m going to sleep at all tonite.
Looking at the clock, I have a good 4½ hours to sleep – if I just fall off in the next 15 minutes! The thought doesn’t help me relax. I toss, wide awake. It’s now 2:30 a.m. as I console myself with the thought that I won’t die if I get at least 1 hour of sleep. Suddenly, the alarm goes off at 3:45 a.m. I’m wasted! How many hours till I get to sleep again?
I drive the 1½ hours in the dark to San Luis, working to become fully conscious and functional. I pour in more coffee.
I meet my buddy at the boat ramp, and he didn’t sleep much either. We spend 10 minutes preparing to launch, and then he backs me down the ramp and we’re off. I’m functional, but barely. It looks like a hot day.
We catch our first striper and the adrenaline is running now; I feel better. More food and coffee needed. Staying active helps, but I can feel the oppressive weight of my sleep deprivation setting in again. I hope I can stay awake till lunch.
About 2 p.m. we get a second wind after landing a few more fish. We decide to keep fishing till closing time at 7. You just never know! But we pay the price, too.
At 6:45 we pull the boat out, racing to get out before closing. We are both barely functioning, but we had released more than 20 nice fish! The fishing success buoys us. We won!
An hour and a half drive later, I slowly extricate my frozen and sore body from the truck and unhook the boat. Funny, how stiff you get
It’s about 10 p.m. as I am greeted by my wife who asks how it went? “Wonderful!” I lie. I’m semiconscious. I’ve had 1-2 hours sleep in nearly 40 hours.
I wake up the next morning, trying to get it all to work again. A full day on the water can sure lock up your back and shoulders, but I’m not complaining!! I tell my wife I’m recovering. She suspects otherwise.
It’s about 11 a.m. and I call my buddy to check in. Yeah, he’s wiped out, too, but “wasn’t it a great trip!” he exclaims. “Heck yeah!” I reply. Yep, that’s why he’s my fishing buddy.
Funny, we both exhibited massive selective memory loss – as we began serious planning for our next adventure! OK, although exhausted, wiped out and sore, we had overcome and persevered. That’s what victory feels like. Yes, it’s crazy to work that hard, but you only live once, and it was so much fun (afterward!). Keep the gusto alive! Never give up!