The best anglers I know have one thing in common: They are positive, progressive thinkers who take information and apply it. They are also eager to learn new things, willing to take risks and beam with optimism. In their world, there’s no space for cynicism or passivity.
Over my 44 years of salmon, steelhead and trout fishing, I’ve seen many fads come and go. I’ve also witnessed the coming of our sport’s most technologically advanced gear. From rods to lines, plugs to hooks, nets to depth finders—and much more—never have we had so much access to such specialized gear.
After trying two techniques with no success in this springer hole, Scott Haugen resorted to a third approach, which paid-off. Keeping the mind open, and positive, is key to consistent success.
All the latest gear is great, and I’m a firm believer in investing in the best you can afford. Take fishing rods for instance. The lightweight, sensitive, sturdy structure of my rods are a far cry from what I used while growing up. The PLine I’ve used for a decade isn’t even in the same ball park as the lines I used in my first 30 years of fishing.
I’m a firm believer that more advanced gear boosts catch rates. But there’s another factor that heavily weighs in on our fish-catching success, and that’s the human mind.
Our mindset is one thing we have continual control over. How we choose to act, react and behave is up to us as individuals and this is true on and off the water.
We can’t control river levels, the number of fish in any given stream and we certainly can’t control when fish bite. We have no influence on the weather and often times are at the mercy of other people. But one thing that is in our control is our mind. How we choose to act or respond to any situation or scenario is up to us.
From my perspective, anglers drive the fishing industry, the industry doesn’t drive itself.
During our recent economic decline it’s been interesting to see how the number of anglers on the water hasn’t dropped; in fact, from what I’ve witnessed, it seems the numbers are growing.
While fishing license sales may have declined in some states, it seems the number of people actually using them (getting on the water) has increased.
I’ve heard and read various reports ranging from 11%-15% as to the number of people who fish in North America. Regardless what the number is, the fact is, we are a minority group and we have to stick together and support one another.
Fishing is not a competition, it’s a recreational hobby people choose to participate in.
Anglers are still holding on to the pastime we love and are so fortunate to have. Even those experiencing temporary job loss are fishing—some doing it more now than when they were employed because they have the time. During these challenging periods people are turning to something they love and have interest in; they are fishing by choice.
Todd Linklater (right) is one of Oregon’s top salmon and steelhead guides. Though Haugen has never fished with Todd, he’s fished along side him for decades and is more than impressed with his ability to think outside the box with confidence.
Another interesting statistic worth noting is that 90% of consumers trust peer recommendation, while only 14% trust ads. What this equates to for anglers is a tight-knit community where we share information and help out one another. Now, if those peer recommendations fall in-line with ads commonly seen featuring products in our industry, then people are more likely to invest in those items.
Each aspect I’ve touched on comes back to the human mind and what we choose to do with the information we have. We can opt to keep it to ourselves, or we can share it. We can elect to be excited about the number of fellow anglers on the river or we can react negatively to it. The choice is ours.
Life is short and the passions we share too special to keep information to ourselves. Then again, what we choose to do with information is our choice. But in a world where people rely on one another and trust information from the people who share common interests, doesn’t it make sense to encourage and help out one another?
I conduct over 50 seminars a year, and people come to these seminars for one thing—information. They attend these seminars by choice. When thousands of people collectively attend these seminars each season, it’s a clear sign that they are there because they want to learn.
I don’t have all the answers and don’t pretend to.
In fact, the best anglers I know continually strive for new information. They’re never content with where they are and are continually searching for ways to grow as anglers. They’re excited about fishing, learning new concepts, applying different techniques and thinking outside the box. They’re eager, smiling and positive...by choice.
Scott Weedman is one of the hardest working salmon and steelhead angler’s Haugen has had the honor of fishing with. His mind is always engaged, he’s constantly evaluating situations and all he while he’s having fun.There’s little doubt that keeping a positive, strong mental attitude has helped me catch more fish over the years. It’s allowed me to more fully concentrate, efficiently decipher information, adapt to changing conditions and hypothesize scenarios with a clear mind.
As anglers we derive much of our power from the coming together of minds, be it on the water, in public gatherings or through social media. When you think about it, much of our conversations center around how to catch more fish and the gear and techniques we apply to accomplish this.
But if you take a closer look you’ll see that the mind is the ultimate player in the decisions we make and how we apply information. Think of it as mind power, something I consider to be every bit as important as any gear when it comes to consistently catching fish.
- written by Scott Haugen
All photos taken by Scott Haugen