Sometimes the smallest things can make the largest impressions
Being a “responsible” adult and a representative of a few different companies (sponsors), I always attempt to be on my best behavior. It’s important to be an ambassador for your sponsors, web forum, bass club or even our sport.
I do not want to sound as if I am standing on a soap box and lecturing the masses about their behavior. I would like, however, to share a few memories past and present regarding personal testimony. Everything you do is judged by your fellow man/woman, how you drive, how you act/react to a situation, how you dress, how you speak, even how you eat. People you don’t know and will never actually meet are watching and judging you all the time. They are making snap decisions about you and our sport based on how you are perceived at a given moment in time. I know this isn’t how it is supposed to be, but the reality is you are “testifying” every second of the day.
I recall a club tournament I was fishing years ago. I was in line for ‘top six’ but had to finish this tournament strong. It had been a tough day; I only had 4 fish in the boat with 15 minutes left to fish. I switched baits and hooked up with a nice 4 to 5 pounder – long story short – Fish at boat, one last jump, spit, gone. Here is where ‘yours truly’ had a very bad moment…Ike has never cussed or thrown as big of a fit as I did that day. My co-angler was quiet; at the weigh in he retrieved his gear, thanked me politely and left. Even though I had apologized profusely for my bad temper, he didn’t want to fish with me again and was looking for a new partner. When club members asked him why, he said he couldn’t fish with anyone that was that intense or hotheaded. We have never fished together again. Some club members never looked at me the same after that.
That can be a tough lesson to learn; just two to three minutes can totally destroy a person’s reputation.
Another time, towing my boat to Toledo Bend for a tournament, I was caught in a “speed trap” – 10 over but was slowing. The officer’s first words were “you guys (bass fishermen) gotta learn you don’t own the roads around here…” I was disgustingly nice, apologetic and still received the citation. Here is the good part of this recollection. As I was even tempered and nice, he penned some comments on his side of the ticket that gets turned in. I called the D.A. and requested a little assistance, then was surprised when they let me off completely because of the comments made by the officer. (all because I was extremely nice)
As you can see, I have begun to mature in my journey as an angler and an adult. I am beginning to take seriously how I act/react.
Recently I was fishing a tournament. Not a good day, my partner couldn’t make it. High winds. Cold front, twenty people in “my honey hole” Things were not going my way. After only boating two fish, I decided to move across the lake, a little out of the wind. I stopped at a point, where another boat was nearby. I asked the Father / son team which way they were fishing as I didn’t want to cut them off.
Here is where I had a GREAT 10 MINUTES!!!
I threw a top water bait to the windblown point, worked it out to 15 feet and BOOM! 3 pounder exploded on the bait – now in the livewell. While I was putting it in the livewell the boat drifted over to a nice lay down. I picked up a Texas rigged Gila Monster (El Grande Lures). 1 cast – tap tap, swing 14 incher in the boat…still drifting through some stickups and I throw a chart/white spinnerbait. It deflects off of a top and ‘Whap’! another weigh fish to finish out my limit. It’s at this point that I hear the son ask his father if “that man” is a professional fisherman. His dad replies; probably not son – see his boat isn’t wrapped. Get ready now…HERE IS THE COOL PART! The boy says, I don’t care, I wanna be like him!
I didn’t set out that day to make an impression on anyone, I just wanted to fish a tournament and possibly win or cash a check. Even though I didn’t have the weight to place in the tournament, I had a pretty wonderful afternoon that day and consider myself blessed. It’s not very often a person is able to influence someone in a positive way.
How we act can and will affect how others perceive us. They judge us based on our appearance and behavior. You have the opportunity each and every time you are going to / coming from or are on the water to make a lasting impression on someone else. You never know sometimes the smallest things make the largest impressions! Be an ambassador to your sport!
Garry A. McCollum