Leave Emotions in the Tackle Bag

Leave Emotions in the Tackle Bag

On a spring kayak fly fishing trip a while ago, the fishing was unusually tough on the home water near my North Texas backyard.


A little cold front had passed through the day before. There was a bit of an east wind and the all-important barometer was moving onward and upward.

Great spring weather conditions existed – for the local chamber of commerce, that is. With a skinny overcast above thinning out the sun's harshest rays, the morning was pleasant with early morning temperatures beginning in the 70s.

But few – if any – of the fish that I was after were willing to eat anything that I threw their way, which led to the full gamut of emotions as I sat on top of a piece of roto-molded plastic.

There was that little wisp of steam occasionally threatening to escape the cerebral vents, along with an occasional flare up of disgust. Coupled with the pathetic whine of “Why me, why today?” rolling around in the noggin. And finally, I was hit with the pure resignation of defeat on the water and was simply going through the motions.


By morning’s end that particular day, I was beat and a little frazzled, defeated by my piscatorial adversaries with a brain half the size of a bean. All because I forgot one of the most important – and basic – lessons in any fishing endeavor.

And that lesson is to keep your emotions in check – no matter what – in order to win the angling day.

It's the same lesson that author and Florida Keys fly fishing guide Jeffrey Cardenas writes of so well in his highly collectible tome Sea Level, a lesson that he details below:


“Saltwater anglers and guides react todifficult fishing conditions in various ways. Some become determined. Otherssulk. There are guides who rant and rave (nobody we know) and anglers whobecome crybabies and start feeling sorry for themselves when things aren’tgoing their way. Those who leave their emotions in the tackle bag and start thinkingabout the fish are the ones who ultimately catch fish.” (excerpted fromCardenas’ essay When Saltwater Fish Eat,emphasis mine)

Which brings this thought to mind, an angling memo from yours truly to me (and maybe you too).

And that idea is this: The next time tough conditions or circumstances threaten to scuttle a day on the water, don’t give in. Leave the whine bag on the dock. Stick, stay and make them pay. Stay focused. Keep thinking. Believe in every cast. Don't quit. Keepa positive attitude in hand. By all means, persevere to the day's end.

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