Fishing has always been a part of my life. Mom and dad would take my brother and I to Caesar Creek and we’d sit together on the shore and fish. I remember watching our bobbers with excitement and anticipation and, although we never caught much, these are my fondest childhood memories.
In high school, when I wasn’t busy with sports, I’d fish the local ponds around town. After graduating from Miami University of Ohio, I lived with my college sweetheart on Lake Atwood and we enjoyed many evenings on the dock watching bobbers, listening to baseball games on the radio, and enjoying each others’ company.
Looking for a change of scenery, we cashed in on the freedom of our single status and moved down the coast to Destin, FL – “the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” With access by boat to deep water in the Gulf Of Mexico in half the time as anywhere else in the same water, there is amazing deep sea fishing. There is surf fishing from beaches of perfect, soft white sand, the Choctawhatchee Bay and it’s many bayous and rivers, rare coastal dune lakes, and lots of golf course ponds full of big Florida bass.
Fast forward a few years and we got married, another Miami merger, and then had a beautiful daughter named Drew. As someone who has always enjoyed the great outdoors, I have looked forward to sharing this passion with my children.
After our daughter was born, my wife went back to working night shifts at the hospital. When she came home, I’d leave with the baby to give her some quiet for a few hours. I started going on walks and the baby would fall asleep. I thought to myself – if I have to be out of the house and the baby will sleep for even a half hour, I could be fishing… and so I fished. I began to learn inshore fishing techniques and got pretty good at it too, catching what I was targeting – redfish and trout in the Choctawhatchee Bay.
Working and living around so many freshwater ponds, I could not help but be curious about the creatures within them. I have been fishing freshwater all of my life, but I thought this time around I wanted to see if I could go out with the intention of catching fish and deliver. To be honest, my interest was piqued by fishermen I knew who exclaimed that either: they could no longer catch bass like they used to OR they had just caught a monster fish on a nearby lake. I decided to start learning how to use artificial lures and baits, practicing in short spurts before and after work on the many ponds nearby. It was without much success at first, but I kept practicing and, once I started catching them, I did not stop. I was hooked on bass fishing.
There are many reasons to fish – the anticipation of feeling a fish bite your bait, the exhilaration of setting the hook, and the fight between you and a creature that is strong enough to pull your line and run away from you. Fish are majestic creatures, to see them leap out of the water is a sight that never gets old.
Another thing I love about fishing is that the learning never stops. Every time I go out, I learn something new about the outdoors, the habits of bass, a new fishing technique, a better way to cast, etc. There is a control of error in the act of angling that provides anglers with almost instant feedback. If you’re not catching fish, you start asking why and you look for the cause of your error. The angler who learns to correct himself and solve the problem becomes a better angler. It’s a great group activity, but it is also a very individual event. Your personal skill set and knowledge determine in large part whether or not you catch fish. Fish might not be in the exact spots where you’ve caught them before, but the fish are always in the water. It’s up to you to know where they might be based on conditions, timing, and everything you know. There is sitting on the shore with some bait floating out in the water and then there is actively pursuing fish. Both catch fish, one catches them more often.
Inshore and bass fishing have in common the fact that we target big, monstrous fish with light tackle. There is very little between you and the fish. We are tackling monsters with light tackle. They shake and the hook comes free – there is nothing like the heartbreak of losing a fish that makes a man vow to never duplicate the mistake that cost him the fish.
I fish because I want to show my daughter and son the beauty of the world. I want to show them how to conquer it and help conserve it. I want them to be proud of me. Fishing helps me feel connected to the natural world, to feel grounded, calm, and at peace. Mostly, I fish because I have a need to explore. In the spirit of curiosity and conquest, I answer the call of the wild.