If you fish regularly or are an even more diehard angler, I’m pretty sure you have some kind of internal mechanism that kicks in each time you plan to hit the water. I seem to go through two phases before a trip, one mental and the other physical, with each needing to be right before I feel like I’m ready to go.
My system starts as much as two days ahead as I begin thinking about what kind of conditions I’m going to encounter and if I need to specially prepare my stuff. I have to be careful because the internal excitement can become so compelling I’m not much good for anything else till I leave. Being mentally prepared for battle is one of my strengths, but overthinking and getting too amped is something I have to rein in at times! Yeah, I can get a little anal at times.
A lot of my trip prep is unconscious now, and sometimes for no obvious reason I suddenly find myself driving to the fishing store the day before my trip. It’s part of the ritual – an expensive part! This is when it dawns on me that somewhere deep in my mind there are massive forces at work directing my actions each time I go fishing. Funny, I usually trust the “voices” these days and I’ll walk into the store on faith. And you know what, I’ll always find something I’ve really needed for a long time! Ha!
The night before is when my wife knows I go on autopilot, and it took me decades to realize she understands me enough to just let me do my thing. I go through my checklist of clothes, toiletries, food, medicine, hat, gas, coffee thermos, cell phone charger and if I have any cash at all! It’s all laid out for me to get up, jump into my clothes, make my coffee, cook my oatmeal, check the lake conditions, and walk out with cooler in hand to my Yukon to head for the storage! It’s a mission now! The question is, will I be able to get any sleep?
I’m loaded and it’s O’dark thirty as I back up to hook up the boat. I’m not superstitious, but it seems that when I’m able to get the ball placed where it sits right under the trailer hitch receiver the first time, it’s going to be an epic fishing day! However, I’ve also scientifically proven that if I can make three consecutive shots of empty water bottles from inside my boat into the trash can 15 feet away it’s also a lock that it’s gonna be a big fish trip. Building good mojo is part of catching big fish! What can I say?
Next, my routine includes carefully checking out my whole boat several times before I hit the road. After decades of multiple towing issues, I’ve gotten twitchy and somewhat neurotic about pulling my boat, so I’m on high alert when I do. Love being broke down on the side of the road!
So, now I’m off and driving to the lake. Do I have everything, or did I leave something important? As the first rays peek over the mountains I finally relax and decide that all the work will pay off. But I’m near the lake when a panic attack hits! Is the required quagga seal still on the front of the boat? I stop and look, whew, it’s OK! Parking on the launch ramp, I get everything set up and then back the boat in, making sure the straps are disconnected at least two times before I shove it off by the dock! So far so good.
The real moment of truth arrives. I turn the key and the engine turns over slowly as it builds up pressure, then fires up! I think a running engine is the best sound on the water! Idling out, I punch it as the Merc 250 leaps forward toward my first spot! I’m fishing now and even if something goes haywire on the way home … I got to fish!
Yeah it’s the excitement and the giddy anticipation that drives me to do these crazy things, but I love it. Never give up!
Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org,