Fishing is a metaphor for the bigger picture, and we don't always recognize it.
Looking for a way to teach your kids about life? Try fishing. In addition to being a challenging sport that may well capture your child's interest and passion for a lifetime, it's also a perfect metaphor for life, providing a wealth of deep and meaningful lessons. The lessons aren't always easy to learn, but the way they can be applied to nearly every facet of life makes them lessons that need to be learned.
View the slideshow to see how connected angling and our daily lives are.
You have to be willing to get your clothes wet and your hands dirty
If you are going to catch a fish - or learn the art of fishing in the first place - you are going to have to be willing to get splashed, soaked, and covered in mud.
Fish can be fierce fighters, and you are never going to be able to land a great one if you are consistently trying to stay completely dry on your boat. Sometimes in fishing, you have to throw caution to the wind, follow the fish around the boat, jump into the shallows, and fight. The same is true with life, where you are never going to be successful or find fulfillment if you aren't willing to take a few risks and get a little roughed up in the process.
You never know what you're going to catch
It was the legendary Tom Hanks - as Forrest Gump, of course (pictured) - that said, "Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get." Life is also like a river full of fish, in that you never know what kind of beast is going to end up on the business end of your line.
Some days, you might hook a record-breaker. Other days, you'll be lucky to score so much as a baitfish. While you might always venture forth hoping for the big fish, you have to be open to catching a few smaller ones along the way, or to enjoying a day of fishing with your buddies even if nothing comes of it. In life, it's okay to hope for the big milestones and accomplishments; just make sure you're enjoying the ride and cherishing the little things as well.
Your failures will teach you as much as your successes
How many of the icons in our world or our history got where they are by consistently succeeding? Very few. Failure is the fire that fuels many great accomplishments, and that fact holds true whether we're talking about life as a whole or the sport of fishing.
When a fish slips your hook and gets away, when your line snaps and you have to go back to square one, when a promising fishing day disintegrates into a series of close calls and missed catches, it's easy to succumb to frustration and want to give up. But every fishing failure can teach you something about your technique, your gear, or yourself as a person, and if you pay attention to those lessons, they can make you better.
No two fishing expeditions are the same
Even if you head to the same fishing spot, take the same gear, and use the same lures, you will never have the same fishing adventure twice. There are so many factors at play in this sport, from the weather to the tides and beyond, that can transform a fishing experience entirely.
Therefore, instead of trying to recreate your old successes, try to forge new ones out of the conditions and factors you have on your side today. You'll still have those old fishing adventures to look back on with fond wistfulness, but living in the moment instead of gazing backwards will ensure that you have more things to be nostalgic about when all is said and done. Live your life every day for what it is now, not for what it used to be.
Fortune favors the patient and resilient
If you are going to find success in fishing - or in life in general - you have to be willing to wait for the great things. You have to be ready to sit around for a while, baiting patiently until the perfect fish comes along.
You also have to be able to search long and hard for the loves, friends, jobs, and other things that are going to define who you are and how you lived your life. It's no surprise that many parents use fishing as a means of teaching their kids the lifelong lessons of being patient and never giving up.
You have to just put your lure or fly out there and see what happens
You can put in all the practice you want, read all of the fishing books out there, and invest in only the best fishing gear, but eventually you're just going to have to cast your line into the water and see what happens.
Every once in a while in life, you just need to throw all caution and preparation to the wind and simply put yourself out there.
The fish won't come automatically; you have to work for them
The best things in life, be they the people we love, the accomplishments we cherish, or the talents we hold, never come easy. A record-breaking marlin won't come easy either.
If you are going to land a big fish - or any fish, for that matter - you are going to have to work for it. You are going to have to bait the fish, learn through trial and error, and master your art through study and practice. Every once in a while, you might get lucky and land a big fish with little effort, but usually, you are only going to get as much out of fishing as you put in.
The fight isn't won with the first bite of the hook
When a fish finally does bite your hook, that doesn't mean your work is over. On the contrary, the bite signals the commencement of the hardest part of the fight, and you have to work harder than ever just to close the deal.
This is the case in life too: when your work starts to pay off and your dreams are finally in sight, you have to double down on your effort to make sure they don't slip right through your grasp.
The fish you catch will be slippery and will try to get away
And slip through your grasp is precisely what both your fish and your dreams will try to do if you're not careful.
They will wriggle around frantically in one last effort to elude you, and only those with the toughest grasp will be able to hold on. You might get scratched up, bitten, and bloodied in the process, but when the fight is over, you will be able to credit your victory to yourself and your resolve alone.
Fishing puts us all out on the river together
They say that time is like a coursing river, always pushing forward with no regard for those who wish they could stop and swim the other way.
Fishing is a perfect metaphor for life because it gets us all out there on that river together and sweeps us along toward the myriad triumphs and tragedies ahead.