Redemption is Near...

Hands down one of the best reasons for writing a fishing blog is getting to meet different people who share the same passion. Whether it’s discussing trout characteristics, lure selection or certain techniques, one definite is that the range of topics to discuss vary as much as our quarry does from Virginia to Texas.

So when I got a message titled “Hey” on my Facebook page manager app I didn’t think much of it. Instead I casually glanced at it figuring that someone had a picture or a thought to share. What I didn’t think it would contain is a call for help.

“Hey, my name is Chris and I’m hoping you could help. I read your blogs when you put them on the Speckled Truth, but I wanted to reach out because I’m going through a rough spot in my angling career. As a new fisherman, particularly for trout, I’m getting discouraged. I’m not really catching anything and when I do it’s never with any consistency. Part of my problem is that I’ve never really had anyone teach me how to fish. I’m not asking you to share certain spots, but I’m asking how to figure out what spots are productive. I don’t understand the relation between tide and moon phase and how that relates to areas during a certain time of year. Do you have a blog for this?”

After reading Chris’ note twice, I had to take a step back and truly think about how to respond. My first thought was “man, this would make a great blog post” but in those 3 other questions he asked, volumes of information has been published addressing these very topics. People, fisherman and writers like myself who’ve devoted most of their adult life to fishing for trout have written, internalized and developed strategies to help navigate through the myriad of situations inshore saltwater fishing has presented. “I don’t want to overwhelm him” I thought, but I’ve also walked in his shoes. As a matter of fact, we all have. We’ve all been on a streak chasing trout when we should have made a decision to go to place X when the trout are eating in place Y. We’ve all been on a boat, when the other guy is catching them hand over fist and we’re in the back as inactive as the stern light. In short, it’s not fun. So to avoid future carpal tunnel and cramping in my fingers from my lengthy typed out response I asked Chris to call me. In this particular instance I wanted to get a feel for his efforts and get an idea of his mindset. In other words, does he like to fish for trout, like the casual angler? An angler who loads the boat the morning of and launches the boat an hour after safe light. Or, does he like to FISH for trout, like me and the other trophy trout fanatics that line our waterways. Will he be like me and go any chance he’ll get? Will he wade in a 20 MPH driving wind with pelting rain or slip into the water when the thermometer barely creeps above freezing? Believe it or not, there is crazy and then there are trout fisherman, and I wanted to see if he was a trout fisherman.

So as my phone rang, I recognized the 228 area code and we immediately dive right into discussion. I think we said hello, but thinking back, I’m not so sure. If we did, it was probably more like an encounter most judges have at a BBQ Cooking Competition – “Hello” becomes the formality, but it’s all about the meat! Within minutes, I gather my intuition is spot on. He’s off-kilter like me, and lives more for the “tap” and the “head shake” as much as he lives for breathing and eating. Having said that, I can tell he’s in a rut. He’s second guessing his decisions, unsure of his skills and just flat out lacking confidence. Beyond that, the biggest takeaway I gather is that he doesn’t think he’s qualified.

I know I’ve said it a number of times in previous blog post but these fish have a magic about them. I don’t necessarily mean that in the literal sense, but talking with Chris, I got the impression he thought the qualities most successful trout fisherman possessed was a hybrid of KVD and Russell Crowe from the movie a Beautiful Mind. So in the next 5 minutes I talked him off the angling ledge of life and encouraged him that fishing, particularly speckled trout fishing, is simple.

Although many of you reading this may disagree, especially since the time of year were currently in involves floats, parades and the famous saying “throw me somethin’ mista’.” Which for you non-Carnival trout fisherman means you are in the throes of the toughest months of the year for targeting numbers and consistency. So yes, simple isn’t that simple….yet!

You see the light is approaching at the end of the tough trout fishing tunnel. Our days are getting longer with average daily highs starting to creep into the “comfortable” category, while Mother Earth is starting to de-layer her snow laden jacket. As a result, shrimp and other baitfish will start to make there grand return to the estuaries across the Gulf and Eastern seaboard, and the trout will be right behind them looking boost their protein intake.

So if you’re like Chris and myself and are going through a rut, be comforted to know that it will soon end. Know that the new knots you tie will be strong and never failing. Know that the equipment and talent you possess is qualified enough. And, know that the lures you choose will produce bountifully.

I’ll leave you with this to ponder on. Think about all the great fisherman that have come and gone, both old and new. Some are legends in the public eye and some more local. Given all that, one commonality I’m certain of is that each one of these special set of anglers has encountered a stretch in their angling career, and life, that I’m sure has been less than stellar. Heck, even the apostles on the Sea of Galilee, had to have some Divine inspiration to help fill their nets. But that’s fishing, especially trout fishing. The highs are high and the lows are low. Unfortunately the middle ground is steep and like it or not, it’s a part of the game. So I encourage you to keep plugging away, keep it simple and rejoice when success starts flopping on the deck of the boat. A friend once told me, that “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies those who’ve answered the call.”

Chris, for your sake, if you’re reading this man, I’m glad you called and I’m hoping you’ve answered your call to be a trout fisherman.

Never give up brother….God Bless!

Chris