Bertrand: So many reasons why we fish

If you asked a dozen people from all walks of life why they enjoy fishing, it wouldn’t surprise me if you got a dozen distinctly different answers.

Then the next dozen might give you a dozen more.

The truth is, there are countless reasons why we, the fishing community, love this sport.

Obviously, for me, it’s about the thrill of competition.

I’m a really competitive person. I played baseball and golf growing up, and I loved the mental and physical game of trying to do something a little better than the other guy.

When I graduated high school and I was getting away from all of that, fishing became my main outlet for experiencing that competition every weekend.

I had gotten into bass fishing when I was about 12, and I hired a guide for the first time the next year. I started fishing team tournaments at 14 or 15 with my dad and with a family friend, whose name was Gil Hebert. I don’t think we even made a check in any tournament the first couple of years, but that seemed to make the competitive fire burn even hotter.

When I was 16, I started fishing tournaments with another friend of mine, Justin Thompson, who was 19 at the time. We started to do well, and it totally looped us in. Before long, it was all we thought about and all we did.

Without a love of competition, it would be hard to survive a long Elite Series season. You can tell everyone on the Elite Series has that same drive.

Some of the guys that have been doing it forever just amaze me – guys like Gary Klein and John Murray. There are some guys on this circuit who’ve been doing it 40 years, and they still show the same passion as the younger guys.

During practice, they’re out there at first light just like you, and they’re getting off the water at dark just like you. They talk just as passionately about the sport, and I can only hope that’ll be me someday after I’ve been doing it that long.

Competition is what drives me most to keep fishing, but it’s definitely not the only reason to fish.

Some people don’t care for tournament fishing, and that’s completely understandable. If you’re the type of person that wants to use fishing as an escape without feeling the tournament pressure, that’s fine.

Fishing is a great way to spend time with your family and a great outlet for getting away from work and other troubles. A lot of times when you’re out there, it’s all you’re thinking about – and that can make it a valuable tool for lowering blood pressure, making you less irritable and helping you get a better night’s sleep

Fishing is a universal thing. It’s not restricted to any one type of person. It’s not limited to a certain race, gender or financial status. It’s available to everyone, and everyone gets something out of it.

That’s why I feel bad for the people who’ve never experienced it.

There have been so many people that I’ve talked to who love fishing now, but they only experienced it for the first time when they were 45 years old. I’ve heard a lot of older folks talk about how they fell in love with it because it’s so great, and they were so bummed that they didn’t get into it earlier.

That’s why we, as fishermen, need to seize every opportunity to get new people on the water and preserve the future of our sport.

I see it on guide trips a lot. Someone gets dragged out onto the water by a buddy who wanted to fish, and they like it so much that they decided to start doing it more often.

Why shouldn’t they? What’s not to like?

You get to experience nature. You get to experience the peacefulness and serenity of watching the sun come up on a calm lake.

Then you get to experience the thrill and rush of catching a fish  – and getting a hook into that first fish is all it takes a lot of times to get people hooked for life.

Your reason for fishing may be a lot different from mine.

Maybe you have a different reason every time you go.

Whatever your reason, remember you’re doing something special every time you make a cast.