What makes a great fisherman? The ability to cast accurately? The ability to consistently locate fish? Vast knowledge of their equipment and how to use it? I believe that special trait that makes or a great fisherman is attitude.
Success vs. Failure comes down to who has the ability to stay focused, to stay mentally tough – to thwart frustration, and not dwell on your mistakes under pressure…to not fall into the “quicksand”(from the Replacements). To maintain the highest level of PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) possible is not always an easy task, but is necessary to maintaining the “edge”.
Imagine you’re out fishing with a friend, the competition between you is friendly…or is it? It’s easy to come out on top at the end of the day, but what if you don’t? If you come out on top, be gracious – it’s easy to be the winner, but it’s tough when it’s the other way around. Great fishermen are classy, they know in their heart that they gave their all and feel no shame for being out-fished. Learn from your mistakes, from the experience, and don’t dwell on it.
The proverbial “last cast” is a sign of a great fisherman…it’s the “never give up” attitude. It’s the attitude that every cast you make and even the ones you have yet to make have the possibility to yield success. The continual search for a successful pattern or technique is the difference between success and failure. We all know the adage – “Winners never quit”.
Stay committed to your sport, work at it every day. Be persistent, aggressive, enthusiastic in your quest for knowledge. Practice your sport every day in some capacity, whether it be on the water or in your home. Pour over your maps, your notes, magazine articles, etc. refreshing your brain cells – there is no substitute for knowledge!
Be more critical of yourself, than of your fishing partners…everyone can improve, regardless of the level of fishing – pointing out someone else’s sloppy technique or shortcomings won’t improve your game. Concentrate on overcoming your own mistakes, rather than theirs. There’s nothing wrong with helping out when asked to do so, or offering suggestions that might help them improve their game – you just have to be mindful that you’re not being overly critical of what they’re doing.
Don’t be afraid to be assertive, if you’re in a situation where everything comes together and falls into place…then go for it. I myself have had days on the water when nothing seemed to work, and then all of a sudden my brain kicked in and I was able to put a winning strategy together on the fly, when that happens even if it’s contrary to what everyone else thinks should be working, go for it.
So what makes a great fisherman? The fisherman who plays hard, gives 110% and still finds time to enjoy his natural environment; who wins graciously and accepts defeat with a positive attitude; who takes whatever situation he/she is thrown into and adapts and overcomes to put a successful pattern together; who doesn’t let lost fish, or mistakes overshadow his day; who stays in the game no matter what; and, who learns and benefits from every fishing experience, whether it be a positive or negative one.
My goal in life is to one day become a great fisherman…
Interested in other articles by Mark Toth on fishing? Read The Lure of the Kankakee, Fishing Memories Part I, Finding Hidden Fishing Treasures, Worm Jigging for Bass, Basic DitchFishing, My Approach to Slop Fishing, Packing for Mobility, Milfoil – friend or foe?, Good Fishing Experience Basics, Strategies for Ditch Fishing.
Mark Toth, The Ditch Fishing Chronicles
If you have any questions, or are interested in a specific subject you may contact me