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Learning reaps rewards

The lake has not changed. It's been the same since I was a little kid; the same as when I was five and would walk down in the morning in pajamas and rubber boots with my mom or dad and fish for "sunnies" off the shore.

I knew very little about fishing in those days, other than throwing the line towards the water and waiting... or impatiently pulling the line in almost the instant it hit the water and casting over and over again. The love of the sport was always there, but the size of the fish were commensurate with the skill...

Thousands of casts have been made since then. My rowboat has covered every square inch of the surface of the modest lake. A lot of knowledge has come to me from those casts and oar pulls.

Some lessons learned: While the time of day can be important, the depth of the lure is more important. The fish don't study a lure and then bite at it; they react reflexively to the sudden appearance of the lure. You'll never catch fish where they aren't, no matter what lure you use, no matter how patient you are.

As I caught my newest personal record bass this weekend, I thought about the satisfaction of catching a bigger fish than I have caught before. I think the satisfaction comes from all the time put in before the catch. The years of learning that bring you to your current skill level. The time older uncles, mothers, fathers and grandfathers put into taking you to the lake or showing you the basics of fishing. The fish you lost on the line because of mistakes you made (and from which you learned).

The latest (and to date, greatest) catch -- as always admired, photographed and returned to the water to fight another day: