Thursday, August 1, 2013


It was supposed to be a sunny day of fishing,
this is what we got.

Trying on the bad days

Last weekend was a bad time to wear shorts. I first realized this from the bow of a 14-foot fishing boat being tossed around by whitecaps on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage. The high temperature that Saturday afternoon was around 55 degrees, but the wind was from the northeast and it was FREEZING.

As if that wasn't enough, it started to rain. Cold, slanted drops rocketing out of the dark gray clouds pierced the little protection I'd brought with me - a hoodie and baseball cap. For once, my two friends were better prepared than I was and all I could do was shiver and shake.

Oh, we fished, but it wasn't very comfortable. We tried to get out of the wind where possible, but the incoming storm still found ways to twist the boat around on us, which made it very difficult to cast and more difficult to feel your fingertips. 

Between the three of us, I think we were fishing for muskie, walleye, perch, and everything in between. We had some live bait, but mostly it was dead. When we first got in the boat, we forgot to check if there was any gas for the motor. We spent 20 minutes trolling through a narrow canal of lily pads to fish an adjacent lake, only to turn around and go back when we got there because it was just too darn cold. We were the example of well prepared.

Did we catch any fish? No. Karl hooked a northern for a bit, but lost it at the boat. When we finally gave up and headed back, it took a few swings at the dock before getting the correct approach to land the boat in the blowing rain, and by the time we finally got out, we were fairly soaked and very discouraged.

I've never been so excited to blast the car heater in the middle of July...

Narrating it now makes it seem like more of a disaster than it really was. Honestly, I'm not a mid-summer fisherman, so when it comes to this time of year I put it in my friends' hands to provide suggestions. I hadn't been out fishing since June, so I was itching to go on a hot, sunny, summer day...and this is what I got.

No sun, no relaxing in the rays on calm water, no idle conversation while staring at white pines on the shore. Instead, it was the three of us trying to reason with each other why we even bothered. Why on earth would we put ourselves through this mess?

I can't speak for the other two, but my answer is simple - because it’s worth trying.
Sure, I was a little underprepared this time, but if I'd dressed appropriately I could have cared less about the cold. In case you don't know it yet, I love fishing. I love fishing because it cuts me off from everything else I am supposed to be or should be doing. The only rule to fishing is that there are no rules, and the only other rule is turn off your cell phone.

Sometimes you run into bad weather - a fishing disaster, but that's ok. It's ok because you tried anyway. Listen, it's easy to stay home under a pile of blankets, and sure, sometimes that's what I do too, but if you're willing to go out and try on the bad days, however unprepared you may be, it's still going to give you an edge over the competition.

Trying on the bad days is going to give you an edge, even if the edge is a simple "I'm going to prepare better next time." That still counts as progress, because if you hadn't tried, you wouldn't know how to prepare better. If you're always stalled by the fear of failing, you'll never get the chance to fail, and that's where the learning takes place.

I don't trust anyone who hasn't failed. When you fail, you have two choices: one is to give up, shrink away, and never try again. The other is to evaluate what you did, why you felt unsuccessful, adapt, and then overcome.

The second option, the one where you adapt and overcome, is how people develop grit. Grit is the combination of persistence and resilience. Grit is what people have when they refuse to take 'no' for an answer and learn to choose their battles wisely. Try, fight, learn and move ahead - that's grit.

I will go fishing again this summer, and I am positive I'll be more successful than I was last time. Imagine the obstacles I faced while fishing are parallel to the hard moments a person must face throughout life - those hard moments become the keys to one's own future success. Struggles pass in a shorter amount of time if you're willing to fight them; struggle builds character, and strong characters always find success.

“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success” 
- Napoleon Hill

See you out there,
A woodsman in training.


  1. I've had a very similar experience on the TFF. Fifty degrees in the summer feels like the coldest air, most damp air you've ever felt. Way to get after it!

  2. Cold and windy...I hear it's good muskie fishing, but I've never really gone after muskie that much.