Know your limitations

This week I promised to tell you how my car washing fetish — I don't like that word much — got started and why it matters to me as an angler.

Here's the story: Way back when I worked for McDonald's before I worked for, and ultimately purchased, Signcom. I didn't have much money. But, like most young men, I wanted a nice truck and boat. I bought one of each one time. The boat was financed for 10 years if I remember right. At the time, the payments were sky-high. I was terrified I wouldn't be able to make them. I had a deep sense of guilt about the fact that the bank might have to take them back. I figured that they wouldn't want them back dirty so I washed them all the time just in case.

The repo never happened, but the habit has stayed with me all these years. I can't stand to know I have all that money tied up in a dirty vehicle or boat. Somehow it seems disrespectful to me and to the vehicle or boat. It's also disrespectful to our fans. They have a right to see professionals fishing. Professionals don't show up with filthy vehicles and boats. It's just not right. What if some child wanted a picture? Am I supposed to back him up against a filthy boat, tell him to smile and then give him back to his mom or dad? Because of that kind of thinking, I wash everything constantly. At home or on the road, rain or shine, day or night is of no consequence. I wash them. It's not what I do. It's who I am.

As different as that may be, it does have a positive influence on my fishing life. I'm the kind of guy who must have things in order and who must concentrate on the task at hand. That's especially true when it comes to fishing. Thinking about something else and trying to catch a big bass at the same time is not something I can do. So every morning I make sure I do what I need to do to keep my business running, and I make sure my vehicle and boat are clean. That way when I go fishing I don't have to worry about either of them.

I don't have to think about anything except the fish. Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) in Magnum Force said, "A man's got to know his limitations." Harry had a point. He was a smart guy. Limitations are important. If you don't know what they are, you never know what to stay away from. If you don't know what to stay away from, something will jump up and bite you sure as the devil. I most certainly know what to stay away from — dirty vehicles and dirty boats. I know my limitations.