Those of us who are frequent anglers take it for granted that going fishing is just something we all do, so much so that it seldom occurs to me just how special our world is to others. As I’ve taken more folks on fishing outings, it’s become evident that it’s not at all a common thing for most.
I can’t tell you how many stressed-out folks I’ve guided, and for them the solitude we always expect at the lake is a scarce commodity. I’ve had guys literally go nuts over it. Why is it so hard for most folks to feel relaxed? My best guess, for starters, is that it may be the barrage of unrelenting information we’re fed that’s designed to grab and hold your attention every second. It’s exhausting.
Just watch most folks walking down the street. They aren’t talking to anyone but, rather, are engrossed and transfixed by their cellular device, watching for the latest hits and comments by other social media zombies on their latest post. I see it each time someone gets into my boat for the first hour or two. As they step onto the deck, they will usually take a deep breath, then smile at me as they glance at their cellphone – before reluctantly putting it into my glove compartment. I can see this is probably the first time in a while that they haven’t clutched it tightly in their hand or at least had some form of bodily contact with the device.
In the beginning, they typically need to be able to see their phone, or at least reach it. Each time there’s a pause between sentences or activities, they’ll have an automatic response where they grab for the device and hungrily devour the newest information. A few minutes later, I watch them put it back down slowly, as their eyes regain focus on their surroundings and they reboot to reality. The malady subsides as they slowly relax in the new environment. I can see their breathing slow and they actually look around to see where they are. “Yes, let’s go fishing now,” they tell me. It’s going to be all right. Water and fish seem to do that.
I’ve also had folks literally beg me to go fishing because they needed it so badly. I take note when I hear desperation from someone who sees a trip as a way to get the peace they need, if only for a few hours. I’ve found that many guys have things going on in their lives I couldn’t imagine going through. They are hoping to somehow get back to a place where in the past they felt at peace. A special something that would help them have hope and distract them from a harsh reality. They see time on the water as the best option to get the relief they seek. Whoa!
Funny, but many times folks will tell me that while they are completely stressed and wished they could go fishing, they simply are too busy. “It’s so bad, I can’t function with any more issues!” they exclaim. “Maybe getting out on the water might help you,” I tell them hopefully.
They always emphatically agree at first, but then tell me they are way too stressed and worried to get away. They usually give me a sad look, like I don’t understand, while they continue on that thin edge doing the same things that are winding them up like a toy soldier. It’s so true – you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
As the story goes, a wise, old fisherman took a stressed-out wealthy businessman on an angling trip. The businessman asked the fisherman why he didn’t expand his business, maybe buy more boats, finance the whole thing, and become rich? Quietly, the old angler asked what somebody would do with all that money. The businessman said that in his case, he was going to retire in five years. “Then what will you do?” the fisherman asked. Well, I’m going to settle down and relax! “Then what?” the old man persisted. Well, I’ll sell everything and go fishing every day, the businessman proudly declared. Humbly, the old fisherman replied, “I see. So why do I want to get any richer? I already am.”
Never give up!
Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org,