Good morning brothers.
Have you ever fished with your wife?
So… how did that go?!
Hold up: before we go down the all-too-common path of “my wife drives me nuts” and “my wife is such a nag” and “I love hiding from my wife while I’m fishing” memes… let me go ahead and stop you right there.
Brother… you should want to fish with your wife.
Otherwise you’re doing this whole marriage thing all wrong.
If you love fishing, and you love your family, you should want to share the things that are important to you. To enrich their lives. It should come naturally. If they reject your hobbies, so be it – but you should always present them with the opportunity to decide for themselves.
It’s an ongoing process, and yes, at times – it can be very frustrating for everyone.
Let me tell you how I screwed up recently so you can avoid my mistakes…
This year I learned a few new tips while fishing with my gal…
We fished Manitowish, Wisconsin for 2 weeks this year. It’s an annual event. A recurring pilgrimage of sorts where we connect with each other, with nature, and with the good Lord on a higher level. The yearly tradition started many moons ago when I was a little tike thanks to my Grandpa Jerry and his house on the channel.
It continues to this day, and my wife and children now share in this tradition with me. (Remember I said that sharing the things we love can enrich the lives of those around us? Prime example.)
We fish hard.
Multiple times every day. Different locations. Different depths. Different lakes. Different presentations.
This year things didn’t go so well for my wife the first week of the trip. 7 days of suck. It was rough. She couldn’t catch a keeper. She couldn’t catch anything, actually. Skunk after skunk, she insisted on using lipless crankbaits, even though they had produced zero bites between multiple outings. Why? Because she had caught some beefcakes on them in the past.
One morning I couldn’t take it anymore – I was catching smallmouth bass left and right on a walking bait, and a trailing bobber rig – and I felt guilty.
“Here, give me that – we’re going to fix this problem. I can’t take it anymore.”
I yanked the pole out of her hands, pulled a Megabass Pop-X out of my backpack, tied a quick palomar knot and handed it back to her – right in the middle of the morning trip.
“What am I supposed to do with this??”
She asked. Clearly aggravated with me.
I stated, matter-of-factly.
“… and when that trailing bobber drops, I want you to pick that pole up and reel in the next bonus fish.”
Boys… if you could have seen the daggers…
But daggers or not, it didn’t matter. I was being belligerent; primarily worried about how I felt watching her fish – which obviously backfired.
Herein lies tip #1…
Do Not FORCE New Fishing Presentations on your Wife
Jen had never used a popper before.
She had zero confidence in it. This, coupled with the fact that she had already had a very frustrating week with hardly a bite, was a disaster. I tried to give her a few tips, but the frustration just kept mounting…
… up and up and up… until she snapped.
“You got this freakin’ thing on here and I don’t even know how to use it!! I HATE bobber fishing, I am NOT doing that either!!”
She just slumped down in the boat. Mad, but also defeated.
It was my fault.
That’s a fail.
I made everything worse, not better.
There are many different ways to introduce new fishing techniques. What work? Depends on the angler. Everyone is different. I find it is usually best to work with new baits “at the dock.” Before you’re mid-trip and frustrated. This allows people to get comfortable with something new (and maybe even catch a fish or two) instead of forcing them into an odd situation on the fly.
Also, trying to force them to use something they hate, like a bobber, is not a great idea. Even though technically – technically – this could result in more fish.
That’s not the only thing we need to take into consideration.
So what should I have done? Well, allow me to present tip #2…
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Accept the Techniques your Wife is Comfortable With and Find Fish Willing to Bite
Easier said than done?
However… if I had turned my attention towards finding areas where the techniques she was comfortable fishing could have been more effective, that would have led to a better end result – even though it might still result in another skunk.
Jen is comfortable fishing swimbaits, wacky rigs and jig worms (in addition to lipless cranks). We were fishing over massive patches of cabbage, trying to cover a lot of water, and big smallies were crashing through, hammering our topwaters… but… when you look at the 3 presentations I just mentioned, does it really seem impossible to find an area on any given lake on any given day where at least 1 of these 3 have a pretty stinkin’ good chance of being effective?
Nah man… honestly… I could have found areas where swimbaits, wacky rigs and jig worms could have done well. That’s what I should have done, instead of forcing her to use something she had never used before in the area I wanted to keep fishing.
So after I apologized for being a jerk, that’s what we did… and here were the results…
Week 2: We Found New Areas to Fish
The search was on… and we found new areas where she could fish what she liked. Areas with sparse weed cover, mixed with wood piles and boulders. Rocky shoreline. Flats. Some in as little as 5 feet. We worked shallow to deep. She had more fun. She was comfortable. She persevered and kept working hard.
Guess what happened next?
Not only did she catch a bunch of fish… she also caught the biggest fish of the trip!
The skunks from week one didn’t bother her – they bothered me. She was ready and willing to work hard and power through – and I had tunnel vision on a quick fix. My approach was wrong.
During that second week, I spent a LOT of time tying (and re-tying) rigs for my wife & kids. Made sure their rods were always ready to go. Made sure everyone always had a bait in the water. Familiar baits. Baits they had confidence in. Made sure I had the camera. Snagged pics. Captured video. Kept looking for new areas where they could be successful.
Yeah, it was hectic, even stressful – but it didn’t matter – because it’s my job as Dad.
It’s my job as Husband.
It’s your job, too.
Your job to make sure your family is set up for comfortable, successful fishing, so they can improve and deepen their love for the sport… and at the same time, for you as well.
When you look at it like that, all the extra work melts away.
If you are lucky enough to fish with your wife, the trip is not about YOU and what YOU would do – it’s about HER, and helping HER be successful.
You might not get to make as many casts.
Might not get to fish the way you want.
Maybe… you won’t even fish at all… GASP!
But it’s worth it.
Fishing is about more than just the fish. I am so blessed by the fact that my wife enjoys this activity. Hopefully you are in a similar situation – but make sure you don’t make the same mistake I did…
I promise you, when you see the victories and soak up the smiles… everything else melts away.
It’s the best catch a guy could ask for.
Tight Lines & Godspeed, Patriots.
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