Last Sunday my friend Rob invited me out for a day of fishing in Erie, Pennsylvania. We headed out at 8 p.m. Sunday, slept in Cranberry, PA for a few hours (fewer hours than I'd hoped, since the fire alarm went off every half hour for an hour, until we pulled the thing off the wall). At 4 a.m. we met our guide Jim and headed out for the hour and a half drive to Erie, PA. We started fishing around 6 and didn't stop until 5. No eating or drinking, less time for fishing Rob would say.
It was a great trip, and I'd do it again if my wife ever lets me (so far the outlook looks grim on going again until the kids are in college). Here are the couple of insights I had that day.
- I caught 14 fish. They were huge, and it was so much fun. Whoever said the reason they call it fishing instead of catching never had a guide as good as Jim helping them catch. Admittedly, the people around us weren't catching nearly as many fish. Check out the few I got a picture with.
- Fishing has so many weird terms, and I never quite got the "fisherman language" down. When a guy catches a nice fish you don't say "good job" or "way to go". No, it's more like, "she's a beauty" or "that must be at least 8 pounds".
- No eating, drinking and very little sleeping makes me quiet and contemplative by the end of the day.
- If you're freezing, it's better to stay cold than to get warm and freeze again. Which leads me to the next point.
- There's something called Frostnip. It's similar to Frostbite but less severe and goes away after about two weeks of lots of water, raised feet and Ibuprofen. Who knew? The doctor didn't. Which leads to this next point.
- Creek water is freaking cold. My toes literally froze and are still thawing from the Frostnip. Which leads to yet another point.
- Bring along lots of those hot sheets you warm up by moving and regularly stuff them in your waders.
- While green means go everywhere else, it means stop and be cautious in a lake. Green means slippery algae.
- Leaving all of life behind, and even eschewing conference calls scheduled last minute feels great and I recommend it to everyone.
- If you're driving and tired, having the passenger yell "YOU AWAKE" every 20 minutes or so makes you jump into the roof and gets the adrenaline pumping.
- Fishing takes an immense amount of concentration. The only time I appreciated nature was when we were moving or I was (stupidly) warming my feet up. Otherwise I was watching those fish come after, and avoid, my jiggling lure.
- Apparently I can do some semi-advanced fishing tactics. Rob said one thing I did was one of the hardest in fishing, and it seemed to be the only way to catch fish. All I did was jiggle my hand up and down, who knew the shivering shakes could be so beneficial?
- Eating fresh fish, especially some you caught yourself, is amazing.
- Fishing off the back of a boat as lines troll in the water isn't real fishing.
- Fish are stupid.
- Friends who push you to do new stuff are few and far between, and need to be cherished.