Basic, Must-Have Life Experiences – Part 2

This is the second in the series of posts on the Basic, Must-Have Life Experiences that it would seem unfortunate, to not have experienced.

The list of activities include:

  • Swimming
  • Riding a Bike
  • Fishing
  • Building a Campfire
  • Shooting a Gun

Some may ask: What is unique and so important about these activities?

They teach important life lessons and skills, such as personal power and self-sufficiency.

The first 2 activities were covered in the prior post.

Let’s now cover the next item on the list…


A few years ago we were staying in a cottage on Moosehead Lake, when I had a con-call scheduled with 2 people (stakeholders) involved in a client project I was leading.

When the first person joined the call we engaged in some small talk. I commented that after the call I was going to do some fishing with my family.

To my surprise, this 40+ year-old gentleman responded with: I have never been fishing.

My head reeled with possible come-backs. The one that came out of my mouth was something like: You should give it a try.

I’m thinking: How can this be?

Fishing is a single activity that teaches SO MANY life skills and lessons, including:

  • Planning – Where are we going? What will the weather be like when we go? And, what do we need to bring?
  • Decision-making – Deciding on the gear and accompanying bait to use, based upon the type of fish expected to be caught, in various bodies of water and times of the day or year.
  • Knot tying and rigging a line to support the intended bait.
  • Hand/eye coordination
    • Placing the bait (with hook, line and sinker) into the water by:
      • Casting it out and reeling it back in (without getting hung up on the bottom).
      • Casting it out (with a bobber) and letting it float around.
      • Simply letting the bait drop straight down from the rock or dock you are standing on, or boat you are sitting in.
    • Setting the hook in the fish’s mouth when you feel a tug or see the bobber take a dive.
  • Overcoming the fear of slimy things, including:
    • Baiting a hook – I recall my first experience at this. I soon realized that the worm really didn’t want to pierce itself with that hook. And, it would NOT get on that barbed piece of metal all by itself. I had to take charge and thread that slimy sucker onto the hook as it wriggled around in my hand in protest. Encouraging (pushing) your kids (and wife) to do this is a necessity. Otherwise, you are the only person baiting hooks and unable to fish yourself 🙂
    • Extracting the hook from the fish
      • The approach to this can depend on a number of factors, including:
        • Is the fish a keeper (to be eaten)?
        • Does it have teeth and/or spiny fins?
        • How deep is the hook embedded (on the lip or in the stomach)?
      • You see, if the fish is a keeper it really doesn’t matter what you do to get the hook out. It is going to die anyway. Have no mercy 🙂
      • However, if the fish isn’t a keeper, you’ll want to take care to not further harm or kill it so that you can release it back to nature. It is simple enough when the fish is hooked by the lip. When the hook is deep in its stomach a stick or, for the more sophisticated, a set of pliers specifically designed for this purpose, can be used to dislodge it.
    • Gutting and possibly scaling the fish
      • When you catch a keeper the next step in preparation for it becoming a meal is gutting it. This involves slicing off the head and running your knife from its bunghole to its newly opened neck-cavity. The final step is disemboweling it. Use your imagination 🙂
      • Certain types of fish have scales, which you’ll want to remove before cooking. This can be accomplished by running your knife in a perpendicular fashion up the sides of the fish against the lay of the scales. You’ll want to do this outside, as scales will be launched in every direction during this process.
    • Bottom-line: There is no way to get around these steps. Just dive-in with both hands. Fortunately, I am married to a great fisherwoman who is willing to do it all 🙂


Cindy, fishing from the shore of Moosehead Lake, in Beaver Cove

  • Patience
    • Patience is the single most important learning experience acquired while fishing. You see, you never know if and/or when a fish will strike. The body of water could be full of fish, but they may not be hungry. Or, you may have stumbled across a body of water that is fished out. All you can do is try. But, you MUST give it time (not seconds or minutes). Be patient…If a fish doesn’t strike, you can try different bait, a different location on the current body of water, or try another body of water altogether.
    • The key principle here is: A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work. Enjoy it, regardless!
  • Self-sufficiency – Knowing you can obtain your own food from the land (or water, in this case). 

Cindy and I just completed 5 days at Moosehead Lake. We’ve fished off the shore and a boat, in many locations. We have tried worms and lures. All, to no avail.

Yesterday afternoon, we decided to search out fishing spots by driving along the Eastern side of the lake and happened upon a cove not far from where we are staying. We both cast our bait (worms) using bobbers. We both received hits on our bait, and Cindy’s stuck. She reeled in a whopping 5-6″ small mouth bass 🙂 Not a keeper…

However, at least someone caught a fish!

After reloading our hooks several times, because of the constant hits we were taking from what were likely other very small fish, we decided to try lures. The goal: put out some bait that only a larger fish could get hold of. And, save the remainder of our worms for another day 🙂

We pulled out a couple of trusty Daredevils. Cindy got the new one: I the used one.

We began casting and reeling in.

To our dismay, Cindy got her’s hung-up on something (likely a fallen tree, based on the look of the shoreline). On attempting to get it free I broke the line. The other alternative was (for me) to jump in and swim for it. I decided against that, considering my fractured toe (which also has a nice cut on it, which occurred in the previously reported incident 🙂 ). Plus, I didn’t have my goggles to better explore where the lure was lodged (likely among tons of others that I might get hung-up on myself).

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that within minutes of the above occurring, I too lost my Daredevil.

We loaded our gear into the truck and headed back to the lake house.

We’ll try fishing again today and/or tomorrow from my parent’s boat. Wish us luck!

In closing, fishing teaches so many lessons and skills. Above-all, never, never, NEVER give-up! Something that every person should learn, at a very young age.

We’ll explore the other Basic, Must-Have Life Experiences in the next post.

In the meantime, get out there and get some!

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