Monday, February 25, 2019

Times they are a changin'

Bob Dylan penned a fairly perfect analogy for my current life situation: "Come gather 'round people wherever you roam, and admit that the waters around you have grown. And accept it that soon, you'll be drenched to the bone. If your time to you is worth savin', then you better start swimmin', or you'll sink like a stone; for the times they are a changin'." For much of my teens to mid-twenties, I wanted nothing more than to fish professionally. I thought that would be the pinnacle of happiness. Life led me to kayak fishing, which was a natural progression from most of my early fishing. I immediately fell in love, and I thought that fishing tournaments would propel me to my goals. Through many ups and downs, I found that I was wrong. Despite success, it led to burnout. Although I made many great friends, I burnt some good friendships. Now, ten years later, I still feel guilty over some of the poor decisions I made. I ended up wanting a clean start, and I took a step back to re-evaluate things. That is when the BASS Slam came to fruition and in turn led to writing and other endeavors. I started guiding and realized that I really enjoyed teaching. It was the positive change I needed.

A sunrise launch on Shearon Harris Resevoir in central NC

Over time, I have drifted further and further from fishing as a profession. Don't get me wrong, I still love fishing, paddling, and even an occasional competition, but my priorities have shifted. I don't want to constantly spam social media, beg for YouTube followers, pay for Instagram friends, create multiple accounts, or any of the other tricks that your favorite social media stars use. Kudos to them - it is a grind, and it takes a lot of time and effort. It is crazy to me that 'influencer" is an actual job title today. Honestly, I find it is best summed up by a term I heard in a hunting podcast. The owner of a fairly major company said that, to put it bluntly, the term "influencer" should be changed to "exploiter". That is not to say that there aren't a lot of people out there doing truly interesting things and genuinely sharing their experiences. I tend to gravitate to those people because I can see their passion, not their passion hidden in dollar signs. Regardless, to all my friends in the industry, know that I will always support you to the best of my ability, and if you are reading this and we aren't (yet) friends, don't hesitate to reach out if you have a question, comment, etc. about anything on this site.

So now, I look at my beautiful family and our amazing life, and at age 35, I have no desire to be a professional angler. Finally, being a kayak fishing "pro" (or at least pseudo pro) is a thing, and I want nothing to do with it. I am cutting back to make life easier and simply share my experiences doing what I love. Hopefully that means more writing, more photos, and a little blonde swimmer in front of me in the Commander 140 this summer. I also spend a lot of time consulting, so to speak, with friends. We talk about baits and the nuances of different designs, scout for tournaments, discuss and break down new water bodies, debate rod design, plan guide trips and tackle a host of other topics. It is rare that I don't end these conversations smiling. Part of me thinks "if I only knew then what I know now", but I think this was a lesson I needed to learn the hard way. Maybe in another ten years, my priorities will shift again, and if the right project popped up, maybe I couldn't say no.

It's not the size of the frog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the frog...or something like that

My main focus going forward will be with the Wilderness Systems team. I wish there was less turnover at times, but the team has become a great group. Rarely do I have a conversation with another Wildy team member that doesn't start by asking about life and family. Fishing follows. That is the way it should be.

So, if you see this site or my social media patterns shift, that is why. I only have so much time and energy to give, and it needs to be invested wisely. I hope these early morning coffee blogs become a regular thing this year. I certainly have a lot of blog topics to catch up on. Until next time, tight lines!