Life is painting a picture…

not doing a sum

 Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Too many of us have been taught that success means having the highest score so we become compulsively competitive – always trying to be right, always working for more, always striving for the next achievement.

Consider this: Success may not be defined as the one who has the most.  It may be when we live our lives as rich and interesting pictures, and we find rewards far deeper and more lasting.



The more I get involved with social media, especially around fishing, fly fishing specifically, the more I see the beauty of the sport slipping behind a cloud of competition, the need to succeed, the need to exceed. Who can cast the furthest, who can tie the most flies, who can fish the most rivers, travel the farthest, and, of course, who can catch the most and biggest fish.

There are stages to most of our fishing careers: First to just catch a fish, then to catch a lot of fish, to catch a big fish, to fish exotic places, and finally, the Nirvana of it all, the serene – to just go fishing.

Be careful you don’t get stuck in any one stage too long as you may miss the best one of all.

(My wife still doesn’t understand how I can come home with a smile on my face after a day on the water that yielded no fish.)

This sport of ours evolved from an elite and specialized pursuit during the turn of the last century to the post WWII expansion of tackle choices and time to pursue recreation. Next, the River Runs Through It boom exploded and now, well now it seems that everybody and his brother is an expert.

Technique, tackle, location and results have become more important than time on the river. 25 best this and 50 best that have eclipsed the beautiful literary tradition of our sport.

Do yourself a favor and don’t screw up YOUR fishing. Avoid turning it into an accounting of time spent by units of widgets, number of rivers bagged, and capital investments made.

Relax and paint a picture in your mind. A picture with your day as the subject, and make it beautiful, memorable, like the one in the picture above by my friend, Boyd Shockley.

Leave the score card at home.

Joe Odierna enjoying the Neversink

And while you are at it, take some time to peruse the stories of the sport rather than just the how to and where to tomes of late – those stories tell more than you can imagine.

Check out the Reading Room for fishing books of all kinds – there are treasures hidden there for you to discover.

If you are interested in Boyd’s art, drop me a line and I will give him your contact info.


Tom's Fishing Stories

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