PRESENTLY, as I sit and write, I am planning a fishing trip. To clarify, the trip has already been planned. I am preparing for a fishing trip. This is the final step before a few friends and I disembark on an annual adventure to one of our favorite water bodies.
A trip like this has many variables, most of which have already been accomplished. We know where we are going, where we are sleeping, and most importantly what type of fishing we expect.
For this adventure, we will be tent-camping at a remote site on a 7,500-acre lake in New Hampshire. Our target will be smallmouth bass and each of us possess the skills and equipment necessary to catch a lot of fish. The trip will encompass four days and it would not be unreasonable for us to bring 50 bass to the boat on each day.
All of my gear is organized and will take only a few minutes to load in the truck. The same may be said for camping equipment, including tents, tarps, and cook stoves. With all of this inventoried and accounted for, my final efforts will go into preparing the food and putting my enthusiasm into words for interested readers.
I am rotating between marinating some deer steak and typing on my laptop. At this very moment, there is some soy sauce on the keyboard — a true testament to the image and inspiration of an outdoor writer … maybe I’m just a slob.
Of the three nights, I am responsible for cooking one meal and one breakfast. Two other partners have the same role, with each of us bringing random snacks and drinks. There is one participant, my son, with a diminished role. His job is to have fun, catch fish, and enjoy the company of experienced anglers hopefully duplicating the experience with his child someday.
In reality, he will spend most of his time with phone in hand, communicating with a world that the rest of us are happy to be disconnected from. Even the ambiance and camaraderie of the campfire at night will not keep him from his social connections.
Arriving at our campsite is a time of excitement and childish enthusiasm. We first set up or tents and the sleeping equipment within. Next comes the planning and strategizing of the common area. We need to make sure everything is secured from the wildlife and protected from the weather.
The final step is the fire pit, which must be safe, secure, and comfortable enough for several fishermen to sit around until well after dark, re-hashing the day’s events. Once the camp is entire in form and function, we will have a quick lunch and plan our attack. The fish may be in deep water, they may be on south facing shorelines, or they may be nosed in to the cooler water of in-flowing rivers. Everyone has an opinion.
A major advantage of sleeping at the water’s edge is that we can fish until very late at night and likewise very early in the morning. Once the boat is in the water, it won’t be trailered for days, instead remaining in a constant state of readiness. Rods, reels and tackle bags rarely leave the boat, meaning that they are also ready in an instant. We will fish very intently the first day and slow down over time as we each get more tired, dirty, yet completely content.
The worst part of the trip is breaking down camp and preparing to head home. Once there, the memories will be as vivid as the smell of campfire smoke in our clothing and pictures of giant fish on our phones. Of the whole experience, about a third is spent fishing. The remaining percent is laughing, eating and enjoying each other’s company. It is very clear to me that catching a fish is an awesome experience but most often a small part of something greater.