My first temptation was to make the usual New Year’s resolutions, but I realized approaching it that way never has seemed to work for me. Maybe looking back at my mistakes and correcting or avoiding them was the most productive thing I could do this year. With that in mind, here goes …
First, I will be especially careful to make sure I don’t take any more backward full gainers off the side of my boat while launching! My initial underwater perspective, from about 10 feet under the dock a year ago, looking up at it above me, was a sobering one that I survived. Mental note to self: Being extra careful at the dock adds years to your life!
Second, no more heart attacks! I know a lot of good sportsmen who have told me that since my scary episode over a year ago they have suspected they have their own health issues, but are scared to go to a doctor to really find out. Being proactive and honest can save your life! My attack has turned out to be the “best/worst thing” I’ve ever had happen. I got a second chance. A concerned fishing buddy of mine, scared by my attack, insisted that his reluctant doctor do a full physical on him. He wound up in the hospital, with the doctor telling him he would have been dead in three days if he hadn’t demanded the full checkup! I don’t miss checkups or meds anymore.
Third? Don’t mess with big rattlesnakes, nor little bitty ones either! One of the stupidest things I’ve done was to think I could successfully get rid of a rattler that was in his environment – on its terms! Bravado and stupidity lead to more snake bites than anything else. I understand that over 70 percent of bites come from folks messing with a snake that’s just trying to escape. A veterinarian told me a rattler bite usually costs about $100,000 to treat; it’s no small thing! Let ’em alone and stay away if possible!
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Some of you married anglers out there may not have thought about No. 4: Take care of your spouse first, and consider how they feel, and they’ll take care of you! My biggest mistakes have been not including my wife in my adventures or planning and scheduling with her. How? Well, by not doing little things like finding out what time the dinner party was set for before I booked my trip! Bad form! Do you run over your spouse to get out on the water without really listening? I have!
I have found that the short calls I made or thoughtful messages left for Elaine before, during and on the way home from the lake were incredibly important. If I didn’t take the time, I paid for it! Do you talk to your spouse after the trip and fill them in? Do you know how many anglers I have talked to who have admitted neglecting their spouse as a regular thing in their fishing lives, telling me their spouse didn’t care? Really? I usually find out friction is caused by the angler not including their spouse in the first place, leaving them feeling left out. You want to go fishing with a clear mind, as well as support at home, so try listening first and sharing your passion more this year. I am!
Lastly, never give up! I’ve never seen so many good anglers/sportsmen who are discouraged and downright angry over the state of our sport. Many say they feel like giving up! I think that most feel like they are alone, but they aren’t. They feel that we are being overrun by opportunistic anglers who are out to pillage the fisheries and stretch rules as far as they can while our water resources and fisheries are being managed by politically motivated bureaucrats who can’t decide what they are doing.
Many see anglers as the very last group to be considered in our fisheries’ futures. It’s a creeping feeling that politically correct forces, set against fishing, are slowly wearing away the protections our sport has had for centuries. Yes, I think it’s time we believe in what we know to be true: Our heritage is worth fighting for and not giving up on, starting now! It’s our battle to win.
Here’s to 2018 being your best fishing year ever, and wishing that you practice the kind of integrity, honesty and good sportsmanship on which our sport depends. Truth prevails! Never give up!
Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org,