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Tuesday Tour Update: Searching for the ‘It’ factor
(Approximately once a month, FLWOutdoors.com will be featuring the latest blog installment from Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes team pro Dave Lefebre. Going forward, fans of FLWOutdoors.com will be treated to a wide array of blogs from a host of different FLW Tour pros heading into the 2014 season and beyond.)
A 15-year-old high school angler recently asked me, “If you had to pick one thing as the main reason why you love fishing so much, what would ‘it’ be?” To be sure, that is quite a loaded question. My immediate response to that boy was that there were too many things to list and “it” was a combination of many things. I went on to name a few. “It” would be my love for the outdoors, my competitive drive and that slight “tick” of the line when a bass picks up my Senko. As I gave my response, his mother took a quick photo and I prepared to sign an autograph. Of course, Jimmy Houston left no autograph room on the bill of his hat, so I signed his cap directly above David Dudley’s doodling – and then the boy walked away.
I’ve been asked a zillion questions over the years, but that particular one was a first, and for some reason it really made me begin to reminisce and think about things. Could there possibly be just one single reason why I love this sport? Not likely.
Anyone who knows me knows that I watch and read everything about fishing. I’m always trying to feed my hunger for more. You name it – magazine articles, tournament reports, cable TV shows, YouTube videos, angler statistics, live weigh-ins, anything about fishing – and I’m there. I can’t get enough and I never could. It’s not entirely outrageous or far-fetched really. In fact, it’s an obsession I share with many of you – one that never fades, and only seems to get stronger with age. But what exactly is the main reason for such a passion or appetite? What is “it”?
Okay, so here’s the deal in case you haven’t got the hint … I really like to fish. I like to watch people fish, I like talking about fishing and I like hearing other people talk about fishing. I like to fish for bass, but it doesn’t stop there. I fish for perch. I fish for crappies. I fish for walleye. I fish for musky. I fish for trout, bluegills and anything else that swims. I believe there are times I can actually think like a fish. I have been known to smell like a fish on occasion, and my absolute favorite food is ... you guessed it, fish! It’s all true, and I could go on and on about it.
To show you how much I love fishing, consider this: You may be the one who uploaded that silly fish catching video to YouTube with only 22 views and no comments. You may been the one who posted a tweet about how you finished second in your last club tournament on the Red River, earning only five comments and two shares. But I guarantee you; there is a pretty good chance that one those views and one of those shares is from me. I know it sounds a bit farfetched but I promise you, it is indeed possible. I’m a bass junky, a true unwavering fan of the sport. I’m what some call, “ate up with it”, every aspect of it. Just ask my wife!
Now onto the “why?” Why do I personally love it? What is “it” about fishing, the “reason” so many of us become hopelessly addicted? The answer is … I don’t know. I could try to use the process of elimination to perhaps narrow “it” down I guess, if no one objects.
Using that methodology, the “it” could certainly be the many family fishing vacations I’ve taken to Canada and Florida every year since I was born. Or “it” could be the memories of sitting on the dock by the cabin, absorbing the millions of mosquito bites in an effort just to catch one more rock bass before bedtime. “It” could be literally growing up in a boat with my dad, or being dropped off at the lake every day from the age of 11 until I was 16 and old enough to drive to the boat ramp myself. Maybe “it” is simply those sleepless nights caused by the overwhelming anticipation of what my first spot in the morning could bring. There are so many memories, and frankly, any one of them could have arguably been “it” – the one most responsible reason for my obsession.
“It” could also be those countless freezing hours practicing my casting in the deep snow all winter long (you should have seen the looks on my neighbor’s faces). “It” could be the faults of Fishing Facts, In-Fisherman, Bass Fishing, or Bassmaster magazine, as I was always hiding them in my schoolbooks, reading every issue over and over again. “It” could have been that very first, bust-through-the-lily-pads, in-your-face top-water explosion behind the island at Lake LeBoeuf in the fog that one morning (that would then make it Rapala’s fault as well!). “It” could very well be the fault of Bill Dance, Roland Martin, or Hank Parker, and their hundreds of old fishing shows I recorded on VHS tapes during the course of a decade or more. “It” could be one of my old fishing buddies, mentors, inspirers, family members, coaches, or teachers who I’ve known throughout the years. Oh yes, anyone of them could be responsible for my obsession; after all, I couldn’t have made it without many of them. But then, on the other hand, “it” could also be as simple as the feeling I get seeing a bobber going underwater.
But as I ponder while I write, I don’t think “it” was any of these things.
I’m a busy person, but I do find the time to reflect on my younger days every once in a while. Looking through my wife, Anne’s countless scrap books and photo albums, I’m reminded that I have had several other serious preoccupations and passions throughout my life growing up besides fishing – things such as music, sports (football in particular), arm-wrestling and playing pool … the list goes on. So why is bass fishing the one thing that never fell by the wayside? At some point, I loved all of those other things just as much, maybe more.
I think I’ve clearly established the fact that I have loved fishing for a very long time. It’s obviously not something that just happened recently. So that tells me (and it’s becoming more and more obvious as I continue to type) what “it” is not at least. We are unquestionably eliminating some water here now, so bear with me. “It”, or the reason I love fishing, has nothing to do with trophies, money and achievements. It’s not the time I get to spend fishing with my young kids. It’s not about success, fame or being on TV or on magazine covers. It’s not simply about the fans, or the youngsters who I’ve had the opportunity to meet and who will one day take our places. It’s not the 12 years I’ve spent traveling our amazingly beautiful country with my family. It’s not the feeling I get when I hear the National Anthem on tournament mornings. It’s not the thrill of going 72 miles per hour on glass-like water in my Ranger, powered by Mercury Optimax (sorry) – though all of these things are obviously very meaningful and significant. Nope, “it” isn’t any of these things.
So what then could “it” be?
After all this time and in all my experiences, I have never believed in luck. I don’t believe in fate. I don’t believe in coincidence either. I do however believe that each of us is on this Earth for a reason, and that nothing, or no one, is ever a mistake. I believe that life’s chapters don’t always turn out quite the way we thought, or even hoped they would, but perhaps the way they were supposed to. I believe that we all have gifts and desires and that there is a plan or path for each of us, whether we to choose to follow or not.
I think needless to say after all of this, I have finally come to a conclusion – and hence the answer to that boy’s question.
And “it” was right in front of me all along.
I believe that “it” or “He” in this case, is the reason I love bass fishing. “He” is the reason “it” is not merely one of the previously mentioned people, things, memories, and/or experiences, but in fact all of them combined.
Brings a little more meaning to the phrase, “Thank God for fishing,” eh? …
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