Taking time to share


Chris Irwin

It’s nice to be able to chill. For some, that means climbing into a recliner or spending time doing nothing. For me, it’s going fishing. Fun fishing.

Let me explain. I just came off an intense week of fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series on the Arkansas River and Lake Dardenelle. It was a long week, filled with conditions that changed constantly. We had a lot of high muddy water that fluctuated throughout the week. It was mentally and physically draining.

So, when the event ended, I drove to the Bass Pro Shops Pyramid store in Memphis and met the winner of my Foundation Sweepstakes contest. Part of his prize was a fishing trip with me and man did we have fun.

We caught a ton of bass and I got to spend time fun fishing with Charlie Hennigan and his buddy Josh. They are huge Bassmaster fans from Orange, Tex., and they love to fish and hunt. We shared stories about our experiences and talked a lot about our families – the kind of conversation that adds to an enjoyable day on the water.

I needed that.

I bring this up for a number of reasons. First, it fits nicely with Bass Pro Shops’ “Gone Fishing” promotion that kicks off this weekend. Visit the store’s website (www.basspro.com) and take the pledge to carry someone fishing this summer.

Secondly, it reminded me of the value gained from fishing with different people. You can never stop learning, regardless of the skill level of the person with whom you share a boat.

For example, Charlie and Josh asked a lot of questions about things that a veteran pro takes for granted. Their questions were good ones and got me thinking about my answers and realizing I should put more thought in the routine things I do.

They asked things like, “How do you decide to use a jig vs. Texas-rig plastic?”

“How do you choose the style of plastic to use as a jig trailer?”

“How do you determine what weight to use on your jigs and plastics?”

"When do you use braid over fluorocarbon?”

“Why do you do things you do?”

It made me recognize that I do those things the same way every time and rarely stray from those old habits.

Maybe I should?

That’s where fishing with someone else can be a benefit. That person may do things differently and open your eyes to a different way to catch more bass.

With the Marshal program we fish under in the Elites, we’re not with co-anglers who are fishing and using different tactics that can force us to keep a more open mind. Marshals aren’t allowed to fish, so it’s just the pro and the fish. It’s easy to fall into a rut.

That’s why it’s healthy for me to climb in the boat with different anglers, share ideas and learn from them. It’s the best way I know to improve as an angler.

It can be equally rewarding to take someone who has had very little experience with bass fishing. It’s gratifying for me to teach them the basic principles and share in their excitement of catching a few bass, regardless of the size.

So, if you think you’re getting stale, take a day away from serious fishing and invite a newcomer along for a recreational day of fishing. You will find it satisfying and discover that the questions you are asked may stimulate your own thought process that could lead to a willingness to try new things.

Because, after all, it’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.