I’ve been fishing since I was 5 years old. There is a picture of me in Colorado with my first fish…the biggest smile one my face…wearing my green dinosaur pajamas. My dad always tells the story of when I caught my first fish…saying that I was beyond ecstatic when I first set the hook and had it on the line. In fact, I was so excited he says that I was forgetting to reel it in. Have you ever seen a kid run in place because he was so happy? That was me.

After that moment, my heart was set. Fishing would become the most peaceful and heart-warming activities I could do in my life. For years after that, my dad and I would stand on the shore of rivers together, reading the water and getting a feel for where the fish were in a pool. A lot of fishing has to deal with specific knowledge of where to go, how to set up gear etc…but when it all comes down to it and you cast your line out the “perfect” spot…it comes down to faith.

Fishing has taught me all sorts of lessons throughout my life. The first being the importance of putting the work in so that you are able to get to where you want to go. You can spend hours hiking to “the spot.” That perfect spot in your mind where you know that you can catch a fish to big that even when talking about it afterward, you will never have to lie. This isn’t just about fishing. This is about life. You know in your heart and mind that you have a goal that you want to achieve, and then you put in the sweat equity in order to achieve it. I don’t think it is much more complicated than that really. We often stop ourselves short from achieving our goals because we make it much more complicated than it should be. In reality, the goal is to get to that pool of water, and to set your path to get there.

Fishing has taught my patience. There have been days where I have not caught fish for hours. But even then those days are peaceful and worth it. I have performed the tasks that I needed to do in order to make success happen. If you keep faith in what you are doing…and be patient…the fish will strike. The longer you have your line in the water, the better of a chance you have of catching something. If you don’t play the game though, you will never have a chance. Be patient with others and with yourself…it’s worth it.

Fishing has taught me to be gentle. If you fish without form and grace, you will never catch a fish. I don’t know what it is about fishing, but somewhere inside of me believes that if you are mad about not catching fish or you are fishing angry, they just won’t bite. I believe that there is some way they can sense through the line your feelings and emotions. You have to be gentle with the cast, the line, and the approach. If you do it right…you will feel nibbles. You have to be patient and gentle during the nibbles…but when they take the bait…you strike quick and fast.

Fishing has taught me appreciation. I am appreciative for every fish that I land, and when I catch and release, for those that I let go. While I love going fishing in the first place, it’s much better to catch fish than to not. I appreciate the chance to do the thing that I love most in the world and to do it in places that are unbelievably beautiful. When I go alone, my heart and soul relaxes completely. I would have it no other way.

Fishing has taught my focus. The ability to set up my gear properly, to get specifically where I want to go, and to cast exactly where I want to cast. This translates into life perfectly. If you don’t know where you are going in life, then any path will take you there. You can wander and float as much as you want, but the current is responsible for your whereabouts. It is most important to set that path, adjust along the way, and improve upon it as much as possible. The ability to focus is paramount.

Fishing has taught me a lot of things, but most importantly it taught me that if you want something in life, you have to put your line in the water. When you are scared, your line is out of the water, and I promise you, no fish has jumped out of the river and put itself in your net. You have to be willing to go through what it takes to catch fish: focus, determination, form…the list goes on. Of course you will not win all the time, but if you are trying to the best of your abilities, you definitely increase your chances.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project