There was a time when I had the attitude that fishing was about catching fish, and that black bass were the only real adversary worth pursuing. But that was way back in the days when I was young and had a lot more answers about life than I have now.
As I wrote last week’s column about co-anglers I was thinking that not everyone needs to be a pro and not everyone should be a pro. My goal as a pro isn’t to have fun on the water, although I do. My goal is to catch more weight than the other guys. I pay a price for that goal, though.
I don’t always get to fish the way I want to fish or fish in the prettiest areas. I use whatever technique it takes to catch weight and I fish where I have to fish. It’s about competition with me.
Spending long hours on the water to find the smallest break along a channel or to learn a new technique that makes the fish bite – that’s what fishing is about to me. It’s my thing. The life of a professional bass angler makes sense to me. I can’t imagine living any other way, and I make no apologies for that.
But not everyone wants to live my way. Some guys don’t want to fish under pressure. They want to launch their boat on Saturday morning, motor around, enjoy the day and maybe catch a few fish. It’s about getting away from pressure for them. And, although I don’t share that thinking, I respect it. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to fishing.
Far too often tournament anglers look at those fellows with a jaundiced eye, thinking they’re not as good as us or not as dedicated. That’s true if you measure success by the number or size of the fish you catch. But that measure misses the point.
Fishing is a sport. It’s also a recreational activity. One is not necessarily better than the other. The best one is the one that fits an angler’s lifestyle and his or her attitude. Just because I don’t always have time to stop and smell the roses doesn’t mean the other anglers out there shouldn’t stop and smell them.
As I say all of this, I don’t want anyone to think I’m complaining about the life of a pro or looking at my career from a negative perspective. I’m not. I love it, love it to death. It’s just that sometimes we pros get too enthused about what turns us on and have a tendency to think everyone else agrees (or at least should agree) with us.
Bass fishing — or any other fishing for that matter — isn’t just about catching fish. It’s about living a lifestyle and enjoying the outdoors. You don’t have to catch a lot of fish to do that.