Finding A Keeper by Josiah Darr
As much as young unmarried fishermen may hate to admit it, there will be a point in their lives when the desire to find that special someone will outweigh the need for another tug on the line. Seeing a bobber plunge on a drizzly November morning won’t look as good as that little twinkle in her eye when you do something selfless and the ferociousness of a flame tip plug rod being ripped to water in late February won’t be as exhilarating at the butterflies in your stomach when she grabs your hand while you wait in line outside a movie. Someday something’s going to change. It might happen slowly or it might happen fast, but sooner or later, it’s going to happen.
Our love for fishing and the pursuit of that next tug will never diminish. It doesn’t have to. It’s okay to have an undying passion for salmon, trout, steelhead or what have you. I assure you that passion for something you love so deeply caught her eye and sparked her interest in the first place.
I can also promise you that despite it being an attractive quality early on, if it’s not controlled, her patience for your fishy antics will grow thin. She’ll get tired of the tinge of sand shrimp on all your clothes when you snuggle up on the couch. Being late to Sunday dinners with her family so you can make a few more casts wont be excusable, and blowing off every single well thought out plan you’d made together because the water fell into shape will have it’s consequences. Eventually you have to make a change. You’ll have to stop chasing hundreds silver-sided distractions upriver and be happy sitting with one little tail on a couch watching a movie you care nothing about.
Of course I hear my fishing buddies tell me all the time how they are single by choice and I believe them. They’d rather do what they want, when they want, than to mix some girl’s feelings and emotions into their decision-making equations. They simply don’t want to take into consideration someone else’s feelings when making choices that affect their lives.
“This is fishing and this is my life. I do what I want, when I want and I don’t have to answer to anybody. Especially not a woman.” It’s selfish, but it’s reasonable.
Truth is, it’s not a bad mentality. There’s something to be said for being young and enjoying your life. But, when that special someone comes along and her priorities become your priorities, how do balance the thirst for your first love with the new love of your life? I can tell you from experience this goes one of two ways.
Either she’ll understand your love for the pursuit of all that is finned and scaly, or she just won’t get it and it will frustrate her. I can almost guarantee the latter is a death sentence for either your fishing career or your relationship. You may think I’m being a little over-dramatic, but I’m telling you, it’s one or the other if she doesn’t understand your addiction.
Before I bestow this limited amount of knowledge about what works well when balancing your romantic life and your river life, let me assure you, I’m no expert. I am however teaching the upper division class at your local university at this point on what to do wrong. Therefore by process of elimination and never ending failures, I’m actually getting pretty good at knowing what doesn’t work. Somehow makes me closer to being right than being wrong. I’m not exactly sure what gives that theory merit, but stick with me.
Teach Her to Fish
Give a girl a fish; she’ll eat for a day. Teach a girl to fish and she might fall in love with it as much as you are….or something like that. When you take a girl and aimlessly troll around for four hours waiting for a rod to dump, you’re not taking her fishing. You’re taking her on a 4-hour sitting-there-doing-nothing-sesh. It’s a good way to spend time together and talk about anything other than fishing, but from what I’ve seen, she’s probably not going to fall in love with it. All that’s really going to happen is you will have reinforced her preconceived idea that fishing is nothing more than sitting on a boat waiting for something to happen. Basically you just ranked right up there with her grandpa on the excitement scale only she doesn’t get a crisp $20 from you in a card on her birthday. Not exactly a blistering start and certainly not the kind of response you want her to have when you invite her on fishing trip.
Instead, how about involving her in planning the trip and the preparing for your river date. Don’t make it something you’re taking her to do. Make it something she’s doing with you. Spending an evening before your trip teaching her to tie the yarnies you’ll be using a few days later will make every single one of her future casts a lot more exciting, because she will have been a part of making it happen. Have you ever caught a fish on a lure or jig you made yourself? Ya? Was it twice as exciting because you created your fish-fooling offering with your own hands? I thought so. She’ll feel the same was. I promise.
Maybe through that yarnie-making date you explain to her why you’re using the colors you are and how certain colors work under certain conditions. Now she’s not just doing what you told her to do, she’s involved. Plus she’s a lot better make making yarnies than you are after about three because let's face it, we’re doing crafts and girls have been better than us at this since we were in kindergarten. She’s learning. She’s interested. More importantly, she’s more inclined to agree to spend one of your mutual days off on the river with you because she’s not just being taken fishing. She’s going on an adventure she was part of planning and she’s looking forward to it. I promise if you teach her to fish, you have a lot better chance of getting out more frequently than if you simply make her a passenger.
Your girl is pretty, right? I mean the girl who has struck your fancy is at least attractive to you, isn’t she? You do like looking at her, right? You’d like to continue looking at her? Maybe more of her? If you’ve answered “no” to any of these questions, you might have to reassess what pond you’re casting into or what way your lure is swinging. For those of us who think our girl is the most beautiful thing in the whole world and there’s nothing we’d rather stare at than her perfect little figure, I have a little secret for you. She loves it when you admire her. Maybe not nonstop googly eyes like you’re a 14 year who just got their first kiss under the bleachers, but somewhere inside of her she knows that you think she’s beautiful and it makes her feel awesome. And if she’s like any girl I’ve ever met, she likes to continue looking her best so she feels good about herself. That doesn’t stop when she goes fishing.
You’re going to post any picture of any thing she does on Facebook after the trip, and she knows it, so she certainly doesn’t want to look homely. If that means she’s going to take an extra few minutes to do her make up before you hit the water, gladly wait patiently. If that means she doesn’t want to wear your 4-year-old egg soaked waders that leak, buy her a new set that fits her like she wants. If she’s not happy swimming in some giant goose hunting jacket of your dads every time the weather gets a little nasty, spend the money and buy her a nice new women’s Simms jacket. Get her good gloves. Get her some “Fish Cute” shirts and hoodies off of their website. Get her fishing swag she’s excited to wear. Even get her some stuff that’s nicer than what you’re rocking. Yes it’s expensive and no you can’t do it all at once, but look at it this way. You’re not wasting money on flowers that are going to die in a vase on a kitchen table. You’re investing into not only your girlfriend’s comfort and happiness, but you’re brightening your fishing future. This is a win, twice….three times if fishing was good.
If there’s one way to ruin your fishing relationship with a young lady, it’s to make her feel like she’s not the priority. NEWS FLASH…. If you think you might want to marry this girl someday, you’d better make sure she knows she’s a lot more important than some stupid salmon.
Yes while she’s learning, she’s going to launch a few bobbers into trees 30 yards from the water. She’s going to excitedly stuff her thumbs down on the spool when a big fish takes off and snap off your best hunting Mag Lip and sooner or later she’s going to accidentally slam the top half of your XMG in the car door. And you know what? Who cares? They’re fish, they’re bobbers, they’re rods, they’re reels, they’re whatever piece of fishing junk you probably have a hundred more of in a closet somewhere, but there’s only one of her. Just one. Make sure she’s more important thing you even take fishing.
Make Her Your Hero
If you tell someone over and over that they’re worthless, they’re going to start to believe it. On the contrary, if you tell them over and over again how great they are, they’re going to start to feel great. Your girl will act the same way. If she’s out there doing the same thing wrong 20 times in a row, make it a big deal when she does it perfectly on the 21st time. Act like every single great thing she does is the greatest thing you’ve ever seen. I’m not saying patronize her, because she’ll just get frustrated with you. I’m saying encourage her when she’s not quite getting it and praise her when she gets it right.
There’s aren’t many things anyone, be it man woman or child, hates more than someone who highlights the negative and ignores the positive. Don’t be that guy. Make her feel like she’s getting the hang of it and the more positive reinforcement you give her, the more she’ll try and the better she’ll become. It won’t be long until she’s making fun of your for messing up and when they day comes, you’ll know you did it right.
Hold on Tight
This is the last little tidbit of information my uneducated and inexperienced little brain will through out there, but I will tell you without a shadow of a doubt it’s the most important part so listen carefully. There aren’t that many good ones out there. Yes there’s plenty of fish in the sea, but there are only a few that are truly amazing. These are diamonds in the rough and if you ever find one, hang on with all your might. You might get lucky and find another some day, but the odds are against you. When that magical woman wades into your life one day, drop whatever it was you were doing and chase her down. There’s so many out there that you end up fighting and fighting until you’re both worn out and no one wins, but there are only a few keepers. Don’t be afraid to punch your card for the one you get per lifetime and go home and happy and lucky man.
- Written by Josiah Darr