What are you fishing for?
As a kid from Chicago, visiting Gages Lake was always a big deal. But what was even more exciting was our summer vacations at Bohners Lake in Wisconsin.
We would rent a cottage right on the lake and spend weeks there. We swam, fished, sat around the bonfire, and laughed. I recall my dad having to go home to work and come back on the weekends. And when he got back, he went fishing.
Saturday mornings was his day to fish alone but early Sunday mornings he invited us to go along. Dad would wake my brothers and me up before the sun rose and told us to quietly get dressed and meet him outside by the rowboat.
We would come running out, barefoot in bathing suits. And every Sunday morning he would send us back in to dress appropriately. He knew that those Sunday mornings were cold and once we rowed to his secret fishing spot we’d be sitting still in a cool breeze.
As we set out onto the foggy lake into a hint of daylight, he’d ask us what we were going to try to catch today. We all wanted to catch Marlin, but this lake was stocked with Crappie.
He slowly lowered the anchor near a fallen tree and opened his tackle box. He would describe the many lures, sinkers, hooks, and bobbers hidden in this mysterious chest. He explained how many of the things in this box were obvious, necessary, and appropriate for general fishing, but a few things attracted specific fish. Again, he would ask us what we were looking to attract and let us choose our own bait.
My father was a man of few words, but deep thoughts. He explained that sometimes when you are going after Northern Pike, you may attract Panfish and when you are looking for Largemouth Bass you might attract Bullheads. When you are fishing, you can’t get mad at the fish you attract. Every time you cast into the open water you are giving every fish out there an opportunity to take your bait. Success in fishing is a combination of planning, patience, learning, adapting, acceptance, and gratitude.
My father said, “When you boys get older you will go on job interviews, dates, and have random encounters with many different people. How will you present yourself? Who will you attract?”
Look in the mirror before walking out of the house. Know that even though you may not always be dressing to attract, people are looking. Dress appropriately, brush your hair, smile, be kind to people, and leave a positive impression on those that you meet.
You will be defined based on how you respect and present yourself, how you talk, how you react, and how you treat others. Reach into your tackle box, choose the right lure, be patient, and optimistic. Even though you are going after specific fish, you will attract many, and you never really know which one will bite. But when you look like you are trying to attract bottom feeders it’s unlikely, you’ll ever catch trophy fish.
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