Fishing can be a high-pressure endeavor. Tournament anglers dont fish just to have fun. They must catch fish---usually the largest of the targeted species---in order to have a chance of winning, or at least finishing in the money. Guides and charter captains have to produce fish to keep the paying clients on their boats happy. Television show hosts know that their viewers dont want to watch 22 minutes of a man talking about the exercise "being called fishing, not catching for a reason." They want to see him catch fish, sometimes big ones. Writers are under pressure to catch fish because we otherwise look pretty silly. Husbands are under pressure to catch fish so they can justify to their wives why they fish. Dads are under pressure because...Female anglers are under pressure because...
Dean Corbisier, a representative of Suzuki Marine, caught this beautiful speck while fishing with the author and Mark Davis of TVs "Big Water Adventures" on the Upper Laguna Madre. Photo: Calixto Gonzales
Well, you get the idea. Whether the reasons are intrinsic or extrinsic, plenty of us put a ton of pressure on ourselves when we go fishing. Its the sort of pressure that made Santiago row out further than the other fishermen (imagine the pressure that Hemmingways protagonist felt after going 84 days without a fish). How many of us have gone a full day of hard, unrewarded fishing, swear, "one more cast," only to finish the retrieve and swear, "okay, THIS is really the last cast!" Many captains will stay on the water a little longer when the action is slow to try and put fish in the boat. I know television personalities who have gone out on the water when conditions were less than ideal to get the shot and the fish. Ive lost sleep worrying about catching fish the next morning. Heaven forbid, but sometimes the pressure takes the fun out of fishing.
The truth is, however, it is called "fishing" and not "catching." We are not going to catch fish every time we go out on the water. As much as we promise our buddies---and, more, ourselves---that were gonna whack em, we dont. Sometimes the weather goes bad, or the boat spins a prop, or we have the wrong bait, or the fish just simply dont bite. Sometimes, there is no joy in Mudville.
I dont need to state the obvious: this is supposed to be fun. It was fun when each of us first dipped a hook baited with bacon, or salami, or bread and caught our first perch. Long before the expensive rods and reels, the footlockers full of lures, the big center console boats with the four stroke engines, and the expensive fishing apparel, we fished and we enjoyed ourselves. Whether we caught trout, bass catfish, or even a hoary carp, we were happy. The catching was important, but not urgent. Hell, we were fishing!
I was reminded of that during recent trip. I was a guest on Mark Davis 24-foot Blue Wave Pure Bay alongside longtime Upper Laguna Madre guide Captain Mike Singletary, Davis himself, and Dean Corbisier and Brandon Cerka who represent Suzuki Marine. We hit the Upper Laguna Madre for the summertime trout bite. So...there I was, a writer who has written literally thousands of words about catching summertime trout, on a boat with the host of the popular fishing show "Big Water Adventures," a respected guide, and two men who were actually new to fishing Laguna Madre, my home base. No pressure, right?
Actually, I didnt feel any. Perhaps it was the company. Mark is an absolute scream to fish with (although I have a feeling if I fish with him again hes going to want me to do the Spanish Announcer intro to BWA for anyone on the boat), Brandon and dean were great guys, and Captain Singletary is not just a true pro but a person who has never met a stranger in his life. Maybe it was the delirium brought on by exhaustion from getting up at 3 a.m. to be on the water by 4:30. Perhaps it was the excitement of fishing a part of the Laguna I hadnt been on in two years. Whatever the reason, there was no pressure. More importantly, we had a blast.
We saw a lot of pretty country, cussed some seagulls, and laughed a lot (including almost losing Mark when he almost fell off the boat during the aforementioned Spanish Announcer bit). We even caught some nice trout, although we were in the classic "you shoulda been here yesterday," scenario. The fish, though, were secondary to the overall experience of spending a day on the water with great friends and new friends.
Vince Lombardi once admitted his regret for coining the phrase "winning isnt everything; its the only thing." Lost in the quote which is considered the epitome of competition was Lombardis belief that there is glory in the effort, that we should also applaud the competitor who walks off the field or the court or out of the ring having given his most earnest effort, even if it was a losing one. Winning is important, but Lombardi believed that the effort to win, to grow, to persevere, was more important.
Catching fish is important, otherwise fishing becomes the embodiment of the definition of insanity (some would say it still is). However, most of the people who fish are past the point where they have to catch fish for sustenance (and then, it is actually more economical to go to HEB and buy some tilapia). The experience is pretty important, too. Especially, if you are sharing it with friends, strangers, or a part of yourself you dont meet except when youre on the water.
More importantly, it is the experience that we want to pass on, not the pressure. Leave the pressure for less entertaining endeavors such as golf.
(If youre ever are on the Coastal Bend and looking for a top notch captain, give Mike a call at 1-361-949-9455 or 1-361-537-4623)
The Occasion at which TF&G Saltwater Editor Cal Gonzales found himself fishing with Davis, Singleterry, and the two Suzuki honchos was the 15th Annual Blue Wave Boats Owners Tournament. The event is held every summer in Port Aransas and is one of the largest---if not the largest---boat owners tournaments in the country.
This years event welcomed more than 600 anglers who took part in a friendly contest that was more about the shared experience than cut-throat competition.
Winners of individual Kids, Mens, and Womens divisions took home trophies and prizes such as rods, reels, tackleboxes, and boating accessories.
The highlight of the awards ceremony was the the annual "Pimp My Wave" drawing. Each registered team captain was included in a series of elimination round drawings for the chance to win a complete makeover of their Blue Wave.
Photo: Parks Manufacturing
"I dont think the contestants would have been this excited if we were giving away a brand new boat," said Roger Parks. Parks, his wife Pam, and sons Richard and Steven are the manufacturers of Blue Wave Boats.
This years winner, Gary Moore, will send his boat back to the factory in Seminole, Oklahoma, where it will be completely overhauled and returned to him with a surprise package of new features. Based on his personal boating needs and with list, the new features will be individualized for Gary and his family.
To see more about Blue Waves owners tournament and the "Pimp My Wave" contest, visit their website, www.bluewaveboats.com