Friday, May 24, 2024

The one that got away By Jason Houchins



The one that got away By Jason Houchins
As I loaded up on the rod it felt as if I had set the hook on a log, but then there was the head shake. “Get the net”, I knew this was a game changer. The fish moved out to deep water and took some drag along the way. I held on for the ride holding the rod tip down hoping the fish decided not to jump. Then she surfaced, so fat all she could muster to get the top half of her body and the giant mouth above the water. She flailed her head from side to side trying to throw the jig but she was hooked well. Again she lunges down by the boat just to make another run to the surface, this time the jig comes loose and she swims away only to become a story at weigh in. The silence and disbelief said more than any word could have, the day was lost in that one moment.
If you tournament fish or just fish for fun, this will happen to you at some point. It may not be the biggest fish you’ve ever caught, but it will most like be the one you need. You have to just forget about it and move on, nothing to it. Well we know that’s a bunch of bull, just ask any tournament fisherman, it can derail an Elite angler or the club president at the monthly derby. Nobody is safe and everyone is affected, it’s how you handle it afterwards is what makes you or breaks you. Sometimes I’ve been able to put it aside and somewhat recover and other times I have let the wheels come off and struggled. Most of the time it just happens and no matter what you did, it was still going to happen. This is why mental toughness and preparation are so important in fishing.
Recently this happened to my brother in law while fishing a tournament in Louisiana. My wife’s family is from Shreveport and I have fished a few of the lakes around the north western part of the state as well as the Red River a few times. Those can be challenging fishers especially during the colder months and this winter has been one for the books down there. We talk all the time about the up and coming week and what we are fishing, we also discuss practice and conditions. Seems his extreme roller coaster conditions continue and literally change by the hour. I got a text from him on Sunday that said he had lost a 6 lber. Even though he was 1500 miles away I knew he was done and I felt a sick feeling in my stomach for him.  My brother in law is becoming a pretty good angler, but everything takes time to accomplish. This was another learning block for him, a lesson that he must figure out on his own.
Nobody can prepare you for losing a fish during competition and only you can figure out what’s next. I try to always look at my glass as half full and never half empty. At least I got the fish to bite, what was I doing at the time? Could I have had a better hook set? Were my hooks sharp enough? You can think of a million things of what you did wrong, or what you didn’t do at all. I always try to focus on the positive and this can be a challenging thing to do. But let’s face it, you have to in order to stay in the game and with each challenge comes a lesson, learn from the lesson and move on. We also have to realize that some things just happen no matter what and the quicker we understand that, the better off we will be. All I can say is when it happens don’t beat yourself up, evaluate, learn, and correct. Oh yes, and try to forget about the one that got away. 

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