So you’ve got a dialed-in boat, a sizeable quiver of rods, a few trophy fish replicas on your wall. You’ve discovered some fundamental truths about the sport—mainly that it’s not really about catching fish, rather, it’s the challenge of figuring out each new puzzle. Each new species, lake or river, weather pattern, technique is a new skill to learn.
Our brain has evolved to tackle these kinds of problems and we love it for deep and hard-to-explain reasons. You also know that fishing connects us to nature in a unique and powerful way, and maybe you venture deep into the backcountry in search of that wilderness experience. Early misty mornings and glass-calm sunsets and even gray rainy days, spent with purpose on the water, are magical, memorable, and addictive.
An expert angler tends to become goal-oriented, hunting for specific fish, like a musky over 50 inches, a dinosaur river sturgeon, or that school of big crappies. Some have fallen in love with a specific place, and have a cabin cruiser in a slip in Duluth set up to troll downriggers for lake trout on Superior, or have bought a cabin on Mille Lacs and keep a fully-rigged musky boat ready to go at all times.
An angler at this level will have her or his own ideas about where to go next. But there is one thing they should all consider: becoming a fishing mentor. Hang out at your local bait shop and offer advice and help; join a local club or online group and offer to take a newbie out in your boat or even just share a hotspot or two. Give away some old rods and reels you’re not using any more. What greater gift could you give to someone than to instill in them the same love and respect for our aquatic resources that you have? And you never know—you might just learn something from them, too.