As of late, I have been in a funk. I feel as though the fire that once burned in my soul to blog, write, create and make friends has been reduced to a few smoldering coals. It's a haunting and depressing state to be in, especially for one who usually finds happiness in such activities. Many of the past weeks have been spent reflecting on why I've slipped into this mood. This lead to feeling sorry for myself. Shutting out close friends. By and large, I was an unpleasant individual to be around. These thoughts and feelings had to come to a stop.
Just by chance (as if on cue) my cousin Hunter called me up. He said the crappie bite was good on a local lake and assured me that we would be guaranteed limits. How can one pass up the thought of a nice crappie dinner? A location to meet up in the morning was determined and all was well... or so I thought.
I am a man that likes to be prepared well in advance for any sort of hunting or fishing trip, so naturally I gravitated towards the basement. I've never been an avid fisherman, but I do keep small stockpiles of equipment and gear for occasions such as these. Looking through an odd number of boxes and buckets, it began to occur to me that I hadn't seen my ice fishing rods or tackle in quite some time. They were nowhere to be found. I checked the garage even though I already knew what the answer would be.... that's when I remember that I had loaned everything to my father to take up north with him one weekend. All my gear was sitting in the basement of our cottage two hours from home. I was not very delighted with this epiphany.
Trying to make the best of the situation (and the thought of a crappie dinner) I headed to the local Farm and Fleet store to seek out a new rod and reel. One that would allow me to catch a meal without breaking the bank. Looking down the aisle at the selection of ice fishing rods angered me.... why couldn't have my father just remembered to return all my gear? Now I had to show up ill prepared - like a newbie decked out for his first waterfowl hunt in canvas waders and a firearm that has never been shouldered before. As pathetic as it sounds, all I wanted in the world was to be able to teleport my gear back home. In my basement. Where it belonged.
Oh Crappie Days
The next morning came quickly and by 8 am, I was following my cousin out onto the ice. He is a good-natured kid and willingly lent me some of his gear, including a Vexilar and a jig (golden dingle drop). Having not ice fished for crappies in quite a few years, and completely new to fishing with Vexilars, he took some time to show me what to do. Hunter selected two holes about five feet from each other, and instructed me to lower in my dingle drop baited with a fat waxie. Once 10 feet down, I saw the iridescent colors starting to pop-up on the Vexilar's display. In a few minutes, Hunter had explained the purpose of each color, and methods for jigging as the fish prepared to hit the bait. Having caught my first fish within a minute, he walked away to seek refuge in his slightly warmer one-man shelter. I was left to ponder my thoughts on a frosty five gallon bucket.
It just so happens that staring at a stark white canvas of winter ice is the perfect method for hashing out intrapersonal conflict. To begin this process and figure myself out, I decided to focus all my energy on catching fish for a while. Hunters methods were quite simple, and the Vexilar was worth more than it's weight in gold, but my jigging rhythm needed work. Every ounce of brain power was directed to concentrating on the muscles in my forearms and wrists. The little synapses that carried the instructions from my brain to hand began to work their magic, and one by one, I started putting fish on the ice. My mood lighted and I prepared to face my daemons.
Now we all have our own personal struggles that we face every day - finances, career choices, relationships with family, friends, and significant others. Mine most often times have to do with the pressure that I put on myself to be at the top of my game. I am a very goal oriented personal and when it takes me slightly longer to achieve those goals, I become depressed. Lately, I've been working on trying to remodel the second story of our house, blog more frequently, practice my photography, write articles for publication, start a new career and maintain a healthy relationship with my loving girlfriend. Oh yeah, and I want to workout for at least an hour every day.
So there I sat, thinking about how busy my life is, why I do not have time to accomplish all these things and how I could improve my situation to become a happier person. Looking around, I noticed a pair of fathers to the left teaching their children how to fish. Behind us, there was an older gentleman and his middle-aged son discussing a move that was taking place in the family. Across the way, another guy was setting up shop and pulling a shanty out of his rusty Ford ranger. These people all undoubtedly had problems of their own.... problems that were most likely much harder to deal with than the ones I was contemplating. The lone guy across in front of me could have lost a child to disease or an auto accident. Maybe the old man behind me was concerned he would see his grandchildren less frequently. God only knows other people go through. I began to feel thankful to still have all my friends and family (even if my dad forgot my fishing gear!), a warm house that I own to go home to, and the motivation and skills to grow in my new career.
All of a sudden I felt another bite! A big ol' crappie was dancing away on my line!
It's amazing what a day spent ice fishing can teach you.