Field Stream magazine writer Bill Heavy writes, “I was fortunate to start my angling career on stingy water which instilled in me the twin blessings of humility and low expectations.”
Like Heavy, at my start, I fished waters almost devoid of fish. My catch was mostly small perch and bluegills. Stubborn back then, I’d go for days without a bite. Never did I think about not going fishing; I always expected nothing.
When I did land a fish other than perch or bluegills, it was an ecstatic surprise. Life seemed to stop when I was fishing, like in a trance. How could I think of anything else? Time always flew by. I was fishing, and that was all that mattered. Watching those baseball-sized bobbers for hours on end took faith and dedication, and when my red and white bobber dipped, it was a bonus.
The heart and soul of fishing and hunting are what make the sport so absorbing to most of us. Man's early existence depended on harvesting game or fish. Survival was something he could neither control nor predict.
Trail cameras, for example, a tool accessible to hunters, helps in knowing the potential a hunting area provides. It’s also a device that can cause you not to go hunting because nothing is showing up on the camera.
One Minnesota opener, I just went out. My trail camera was void of activity days before, but, mid-morning, a nice buck appeared.
Now and then it is a good idea to be surprised. It adds to the excitement and mystery of a fishing or hunting trip.
Heavy goes on to say, “If you must catch or harvest something to have a good day fishing or hunting, you might want to shop for groceries instead.”
No one gets skunked in a grocery store. It does sound fun knowing that you're going to get your limit of fish and game every time – a definition of dying and going to heaven.
On outings in which we don’t get many fish, always far less appealing, the reminiscences of those trips quickly vanish from our minds.
Looking back on a Canadian fishing trip, with my upbringing fishing partner Dave Speral, our fundamental realization was that it is not always about catching a bunch of fish. On this trip, fishing was extremely easy for walleyes. Landing 50 to 60 fish a day was typical, and it was our focus to rack up numbers of fish caught, so we had bragging rights back at camp.
On our third day, as we landed on one of our hot spots, Speral looked at me, while getting the rod ready for the first cast, and said he was bored. The mystery was gone, and we knew for sure this day like the others, we are going to have walleye after walleye chew on our jigs. We realized it was the uncertainty and mystery that compelled us to spend long hours in the boat or on the shore. Having success at every outing destroyed the magic and enjoyment instilled in us those early years while gazing at those red and white bobbers.