AS I GET OLDER, I find that my desires and actions change. I have gone from acquiring to divesting. I find myself focusing on QTR (quality time remaining) rather than planning far in advance. Consequently, my philosophy of fishing has morphed dramatically. I’ve made resolutions reflecting my new, more common-sense-based fishing bucket list. Here are 16 you can use to help make 2016 a better fishing year.
1. Create a list of fish you’d like to get your hook into. I’ve been fortunate to have spent most of my life getting paid to travel the world and boat and fish. But I still have species I’d like to catch. For example, I’ve caught six of the seven species of billfish. I look forward to filling that void by catching a Pacific spearfish.
2. Learn a totally new method of fishing. The last time I did that was high-speed kite-fishing for tuna — one of the most dramatic and exciting ways to fish I’ve ever seen.
3. Guys usually know what they want before entering a store. They find the item, take it to checkout and leave, but that mindset goes out the window when an avid fisherman enters a tackle store. Like most anglers, I have accumulated an ungodly amount of tackle and use probably 10 percent of what I own. In the coming year, critically evaluate what you actually need and buy only that.
4. Give some of your stuff away, especially if you haven’t used it in a year. Fish have no idea what kind of rod or reel you have in your hands, nor what kind of boat you fish aboard. My offshore fishing friends all have heavy tackle and don’t really want me to bring mine when we fish together. Ergo, I sold all my offshore gear at a tag sale. That which didn’t sell I donated to Habitat for Humanity.
5. Recreational fishing qualifies as a decidedly first-world pastime. Plan to consciously appreciate the fact that you can fish, alone or with friends, for the pure enjoyment of it rather than a needing to feed a village.
6. Everywhere you go, anglers have different ways of doing things. Vow to quietly learn at least one new way to do something you have always done differently in the past. (A word to the wise: When fishing with people on their home waters, don’t ever tell them they are doing it wrong … that your way is better.)
7. Fish someplace you have never been before.
8. Fishing offers much more than an opportunity to catch fish. It teaches patience. It demands attention to the vagaries of nature. It helps you to learn to cope with failure, since you will not always catch fish. These are all life lessons that can benefit anyone. It’s important to share your passion with others — especially children and people with disabilities. Let them know they can cope with life better if they subscribe to the attitudes fishing requires.
9. Be an activist. Seven-tenths of the world is covered by water. It matters not whether you live atop the highest mountain or on the shoreline; if the water isn’t healthy, neither are people. It takes a concerted effort to protect and preserve our planet’s waters — both salt and fresh — and all the life forms that live in it.
10. It’s annoying when friends fish with you and make no effort to contribute to the cost of fuel and food and drink or to help wash the boat down after a trip. Offer to do all the above every time you get invited to fish with someone else.
11. Fishermen are passionate. They are always willing to share ideas, swap stories (and lies) and help you when you need it. Via fishing, befriend someone you’ve never met before.
12. Fishing success can be increased dramatically by using technology. New electronics, outrigger designs, release tools, trolling equipment, boat and power design, and much more can all make fishing more productive and less tiring. Even if you don’t own it, know about it.
13. The past is gone and the future doesn’t exist. As soon as you reach the future, it becomes the present. So in the interest of QTR, I vow to appreciate the moment I hook up or land a fish, the camaraderie of my fellow anglers, and the beauty of the sea and sky.
14. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in work and family that you don’t take good care of yourself and your own needs. Plan fishing adventures and keep them sacred.
15. Fishing requires attention to tides, winds, barometric pressure, moon phases and more. Plan to check on these items on a daily basis, even when not fishing, just to maintain a close relationship with nature.