You can’t win fishing

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Rapidan River rocks

I caught nine fish on Sunday at the Rapidan River in Virginia. I was proud of my basic food gathering competence (even though the fish have to be released), which was quite nice. It was particularly so because I hadn’t caught anything since the very first time I went fishing with my Tenkara rod.

The second time I went fishing, I was disappointed with my lack of fish but optimistic for the next time. The third time with no fish, I stomped around in a sour mood while my boyfriend did all the fish catching.

The fourth time, I decided I was not catching fish. I was perfecting my casting. Clever, right? The brain misdirection helped to make the day more pleasant (and my casting actually did improve), even though disgruntlement at not catching anything still loomed in the background.

When we went to the Rapidan on Sunday, we hadn’t been fishing in almost 18 months. I figured my skills would be so rusty that I’d be practicing casting again and not catching fish. As we approached the river, I repeated in my mind what a wiser fisherman said to us once when we weren’t catching fish: “That’s why they call it fishing and not catching.”

I didn’t trick the universe with reverse psychology to catch those nine fish. What I did differently was have a nice day in nature instead of launching a referendum on my skills as a fly fisher. My boyfriend didn’t get as many fish as I did and while we were walking back to the Zipcar he said, “I’ve got to remember you can’t win fishing.”

I have to remember that too. Doing well one time doesn’t make the other times I don’t do well failures.

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