Not Your Typical Fisherman's Story - Smart Money Seed


Not Your Typical Fisherman's Story

The Story

This past weekend I went on a fishing trip with one of the best cat-fishing guides on this side of the Mississippi. This guy is a first class fisherman, and he consistently catches BIG catfish on the Ohio River. He has plenty of 5-star reviews online, and he can tell stories of catching many 30+ pound fish with pictures to prove it. I'm a rookie fisherman (trust me, I still have a lot to learn), so this trip was one of my first opportunities to land some really big fish. We were on water at 8:30am and by noon it was 50 degrees and sunny. I couldn't have scripted a better day for fishing in December.

We hit our first fishing spot by about 8:45am and wasted no time dropping the lines in the water. 15 minutes passed and all we had to show was a couple of small nibbles. "Crank 'em up," the guide told us. "Let's try a new spot." A few minutes later we nestled into another well known fishing hole and dropped our baits in the water. Again, the rod tips weren't budging. We tried a 3rd and 4th spot, and after about 2 1/2 hours all we had caught was a Buffalo Carp. This was a pretty big fish but far from what we were looking for.

We really caught this fish by mistake. He just happened to be swimming by when we were reeling in the lines.

We tried a 5th, 6th, and 7th spot. No luck. Somewhere between spots 8 and 10 we caught a catfish that was less than 10 inches. We were happy to bring a fish on the boat, but you can catch fish much bigger than that in a small farm pond. We probably hit 15-20 tried and true fishing holes over the course of 7 1/2 hours, and all we had to show of it was a carp and a baby catfish. This was definitely not the fishing trip I had dreamed of.

What happened? Why didn't we catch any big catfish? It would have been easy to blame the guide and say that he didn't know what he was doing or that he didn't try, but that would be a blatant lie. He was clearly an Ohio River fishing expert, and he did everything he could to put us on the fish. Maybe it was that we were poor fishermen and we were just not setting the hook right. While this may have been true once or twice, we didn't even get enough bites to have a chance to mess up!

I think the answer is pretty simple; sometimes the fish just don't bite. As a fisherman, you can do everything right, but if the fish aren't hungry, you aren't going to have any luck. We could have panicked after we weren't getting a lot of bites and tried some new tactics and strategies, but I'm not sure what good that would have done. We made some minor adjustments, but at the end of the day, our best bet was sticking to the proven cat-fishing methods.

The Message

First and foremost, I think that this story exemplifies the bad luck that I bring to fishing. If anyone has any "good luck" dances, songs, or rituals, please send them my way.

What happened to me on the fishing trip happens to all of us in our personal and professional lives. Sometimes at work you can put together a great presentation, but your manager doesn't like it. You can cook your family an awesome meal, but one picky eater doesn't like the green beans.

In personal finance we run into the same barriers. Occasionally you will loose on an investment, maybe even a considerable amount. Sometimes you will run into months where you can't contribute to your savings, and at some point you may have to taken on some unforeseen debt.

Sometimes life throws us nasty curveballs, but have you even seen what a major league player does after they swing and miss? They step out of the box, go through their pre-pitch routine, and step back up to the plate. They stay committed to their battle tested process that has gotten them this far in their career. What you don't see is them instantly switching their batting stance or changing their grip. Don't let a curveball send you back to the minor leagues. Don't drastically change your investing strategy just because of one failure. Don't change your saving approach just because you have to dip into your savings account. Stick to your guns and stay dedicated to the saving, budgeting, and investing tactics that have gotten you this far.

I may not have caught any memorable catfish this weekend, but that doesn't mean I'm throwing in the towel. I'll be back out there soon in search of a river monster, and when I find it, I'll be sure to make it sound much bigger than it really was.

Far from a trophy fish, but this is proof that I can indeed catch a fish!

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