Reel Time: We’ll see

Recently I was intent on fishing an area that has become one of my favorite haunts.  Unfortunately, when I got there, another boat was anchored nearby. As I started working my way towards my intended target, yet another boat pulled up behind me, intent on heading in the same direction. My first reaction? Disappointment crept over me and I was thinking my carefully planned strategy had failed me.

Then I remembered a fable I had read in a book by Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn. In a parable from his book, “The Art of Living,” the poet, global spiritual leader and international peace activist tells the story of a farmer’s son who fell off his horse and broke his leg. His neighbors tell him how unfortunate that is. His response? “We’ll see, we’ll see.”  Two weeks later the military comes to conscript new recruits for a war and his son was not taken because of his broken leg. Once again, the neighbors chime in, this time saying how lucky he and his son are. His response, once again, is, “We’ll see… we’ll see.”

Suddenly my mindset changed and I saw this as an opportunity to maybe actually benefit from what had initially been my frustration. Although there wasn’t any catching involved, I fished a place close by and discovered some promising areas I had never explored. I’ll definitely return there again as I’ve learned over the years one certain fact about fishing (thank you Captain Scott Moore), “Fish move around!” How many times over the years have we as fishermen developed a plan that was altered by factors out of our control? Wind, rain, cold, heat, tides, competition for territory and a hundred other things conspire to alter and sometimes completely destroy a well-thought-out plan.

While it doesn’t always turn out to be advantageous, who hasn’t in hindsight looked and found perceived disruptions to be “blessings in disguise?” Over-optimistic, you say? Maybe, but I’d rather look for the proverbial “pony under there somewhere” than let disruption ruin my day.

Don’t get me wrong, I am totally a fan of having a plan for my fishing. I’ll check tides, wind and myriad other factors to try and develop a strategy to improve my odds of catching fish. Having said that, it’s good to have a backup plan that includes addressing the actual conditions you find on any given day. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m not really good at finding fish. I jokingly ”and fully in earnest” comment on the fact that fish and I don’t see things alike; the places I find that should hold fish don’t seem to appeal to them.

Then there’s the strategy of being persistent, definitely an advantage as fish get more spread out, pressured and spooky. Another seasoned fishing guide has a saying that resonates with me. Captain Steve Huff, arguably one of the best guides the Florida Keys ever produced, likes to tell anglers who seek his advice, “pole far enough and the fish will find you.” My advice? Go out with a plan but be willing to make a change. Will that strategy pay off?

We’ll see, we’ll see.

Rusty Chinnis, The Sun's Outdoors columnist, is a professional photographer, certified Fly Fishers International casting instructor, and chairman of the board of Suncoast Waterkeeper. Email