Fishing success can be measure in many different ways and with most anglers this changes with time. The first thing I would like to suggest on this subject is don’t fall into the trap of letting someone else tell you what fishing success is for you. Trying to please others can very easily suck the fun out of fishing; I know this from experience because at one time I almost gave up on fishing as a career when the fun factor started to wane. With some encouragement from my family they put me back on track and for that I am forever grateful. After several seasons of tournament success there were just other things that I wanted to do in fishing that became more important to me as time went on.
Let’s start by talking about the normal fishing success progression for most anglers. For most of us at first our goal is just to catch a fish and after that of course we all wanted to catch more. How you feel about that first catch is usually an indication of how we will be affected by the fishing bug. Sometimes it is very obvious very early on that this will become an obsession. Whether that first catch is big or small for those of us obsessed with fishing it is a memory we will always carry with us.
After the thrill of the first catch sinks in most anglers want to catch a bucket full or a limit of fish. This can take a lot more time and effort but is very rewarding once reached. Some help from an experienced angler will greatly speed up this goal. I do feel that I need to fill new anglers in on some fishing etiquette as it pertains to keeping fish to eat or throwing them back. This decision should be made by the angler who owns the boat or put you on to those fish. You are not as likely to be invited back out if you try to push the boater into a decision he or she is not comfortable with. If you continue to fish this will be your choice soon enough. At first taking pictures of your catch will take some of the sting out of putting the fish back to catch another day.
Whether panfish or gamefish at some point in time we all want to catch a really big one and this is one of those goals when reached will just increase your desire to fish more. For me it was the 6 pound bass that still sits on my desk 25 years after the catch. Every day when I sit down to write I look at that fish and remember in vivid detail all of the who, what, where and how’s of the experience. The only thing that would have made it better is if there were fiberglass replicas at that time so I could have put the fish back in the lake so I could dream of catching it again after it grew bigger. There are other reasons to get a replica of a fish the best one being that the fiberglass replicas last longer and many are full 3D making the display option almost endless. After learning more about the biology of fish and realizing how long it takes a fish to grow to trophy proportions catch and release seems to make much more sense.
There is nothing wrong with being satisfied with your success at any one of these levels but if you still need more there is always the option of tournament fishing. Putting your skills, knowledge and luck to the test against other anglers is quite a thrill. Nothing will elevate your game faster than fishing with and against others who have a high skill level. This can be very good or very bad for your ego so enter with an open mind. There are many levels of success in tournament fishing so there really is room for everyone to participate. Some people will only think of winning as success and others can find success in the journey it really is up to you to decide. With a partner or by yourself on the weekend or after work there are many tournament clubs out there.
Teaching others to fish is a way of having your fishing success last for many generations to come. I guess that is where I’m at right now for the most part I get the most enjoyment these days from seeing the look on someone’s face as they catch the fish of their lifetime. That and I do spend more time than ever before telling stories about the old times; I suppose that just comes with age. Passing the fishing bug on to the next generation always makes me feel as though I have done something good.
If you fish long enough there will come a time when you are catching fish but want to catch them how you want or in a different way just for the challenge. Learning how to fish different ways is a good way to keep fishing fresh and exciting. Mastering new lures or even new lakes means there is always another challenge right down the road what a great sport. Chasing different types of fish can also keep you from running out of new successes. There are so many species you may never master them all.
There are even ways to find success in the fishing industry without wetting a line such as marketing and sales. Some people find the most enjoyment in research and development of new lures or techniques. I guess by now you realize that success in fishing can be a never ending and evolving process. So there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to let yourself run out of new ways to find success in this great sport that we all love so much.