|| |—| || |Going to the gym and losing weight shouldn’t be the only resolutions you make this year. Think fish. Photo: laptewproductions.com| Like millions of Americans, I make New Year’s resolutions every year go to the gym, read more, volunteer and so on.
But unlike millions of Americans, I also make a list of fishing resolutions. I’ve been doing it since I was a teenager.
When I was 13 years old, my list for the coming year included catching a blacktip shark over 50 pounds (check) and going mullet jumping. From what I’d learned, the latter involved taking a jonboat into a small tidal creek and then holding up a lantern. The light supposedly enticed mullet to jump into your boat. Somewhere I read that you needed to wear a pot on your head to protect your noggin from incoming mullet.
So one night my best friend and I anchored under a moonless sky, pots on our heads, and hoisted Coleman lanterns. We did not need our “helmets.” No mullet jumped into the boat, and, as we motored home, I wondered if we had been on the fishing equivalent of a snipe hunt. But I checked it off the list. (Years later, while fishing at night in South Carolina I turned on a Q-Beam to look for a landmark and a school of mullet launched right into the boat.)
All of this to say, complacent fishermen are poor fishermen. So every year I create a list of resolutions that will make me a better angler. On with the list for 2006.
1. Sharpen hooks: I don’t do it enough. Great fishermen do it constantly. It helps to keep a small hone with your pliers so you never have an excuse.
2. Keep a log — all season long: Some of the best guides I know have logbooks that stretch back for decades. My log keeping starts strong in spring but peters out by late summer.
3. Take a kid fishing: I plan to call a local Boys & Girls Club of America to prospect for fishing partners. I can’t imagine life if my father and other fishing mentors hadn’t taken me along.
4. Catch a swordfish: I’ve heard the stories of four-hour fights, muscle cramps and exploding tackle, but lately I want nothing more than to go one-on-one with a big broadbill.
5. Learn to fly cast: Oh, I can toss a Clouser at a pod of breaking fish with the best of them. But ask me to hit a bonefish at 20 yards into the wind, and I’ll deliver a crumpled wad of fly line about ten feet off the bow. This year I’m asking Lou Tabory to give me lessons. Lou, if you’re reading, I suggest you wear a helmet. Or even a pot.